Time tracking is critical to the success of your business: Not only do you need it to track billable hours and build invoices, but it’s also essential for capturing valuable insights into how your team works. As a professional services agency, you likely already know this — and you’ve also likely experienced the problems that can arise as you track employee time, especially if you have remote team members.
The truth is that no matter how motivated you are to track time properly, human error can always get in the way. But with the right practices in place, you can easily ensure your time tracking runs smoothly and you get the most out of your data. Take a look at the six do’s and don’ts of time tracking below to get started.
1. DO make it easy
The easier your time tracking system is, the better chance you have of your entire team using it consistently and correctly. Whether you’re using a manual spreadsheet system with formulas or an intuitive software, make sure your team can quickly pick it up and get the ball rolling without experiencing any unnecessary hurdles.
2. DON’T make it time-consuming
There are so many other distractions taking up precious work time — and time tracking shouldn’t be one of them. Your team shouldn’t have to spend more than 10 minutes logging daily work hours — and you shouldn’t have to spend hours analyzing the data.
The best way to avoid this is to set up a system that takes the work out of time tracking — like Harvest. With our intuitive tool, your team can quickly start tracking their hours with the click of a button, and you’ll get reports without having to burden your team with jumping through hoops to submit their timesheets.
3. DO keep it organized
As you implement your time tracking system, establish clear expectations so your team doesn’t wind up confused, and so you can improve the insights you gain from the timesheets. Create project labels and consistent task categories across all projects. Set an agreed-upon time unit, like 5,10, or 15 minutes.
Also be sure that everyone agrees to log their overtime, PTO, and sick days, so your entire team is on the same page and your time tracking results are as accurate as possible.
4. DON’T lose the data
Imagine this: You’re clearing out emails and get a little too happy with the “delete” button — then suddenly, you realize you accidentally erased your entire team’s timesheets.
If you’re not using a cloud-based system to keep track of your timesheets, be sure to back up your data regularly. Use a tool like Dropbox to host duplicates of employee timesheets and work reports so the “delete” button won’t loom over your head.
Tip: With Harvest, you won’t have to worry about storing your timesheets securely — we’ll do that for you. Plus, your stored timesheets are automatically turned into visual reports so you can capture critical project data, learn from the past, and keep current projects on track.
5. DO gain your team’s trust
Sometimes a team can feel like they’re being micromanaged when you ask them to submit timesheets and reports — resulting in a decreased level of trust in your practices, and potentially inaccurate reporting if they feel pressured to log more time than it actually takes to complete a task.
However, all it takes is a little explanation into the “why” to clear up any confusion. Be honest with your team and highlight how time tracking benefits the company as a whole and their individual goals equally. Express to your team that time tracking isn’t a tool for monitoring employees but instead a way to:
- Keep client hours under control
- Achieve better resource utilization
- Forecast new hires
- Develop better workflows
- Better serve clients
- Plan more efficiently for future projects
6. DON’T forget to learn from your reports
If you’re not analyzing and optimizing your work based on your data, is there really a point to tracking time in the first place? By looking back at your reports you can discover insights that help you make changes you might not have expected.
Here’s an example: let’s say your time tracking data revealed your team is spending much more time in client meetings than you thought — in fact, it’s a large chunk of their day. You may not have considered billing for the meetings in the past, but after realizing how many work hours are going into the effort, you have the opportunity to set up a new pricing strategy and earn an even higher income than before.
Using a tool like Harvest makes it easy (and even a little exciting) to view your data through a wide variety of visual reports. With these reports you can improve your team’s workflows, better inform future pricing and scoping, and even understand when it’s time to grow your team.
By following the above do’s and don’ts, your time tracking process should be easy, streamlined, and incredibly valuable for your team and business alike. The best way to ensure you’re adhering to all these golden rules is to use a tool like Harvest and experience how simple it is to help your team thrive. Get started with a free trial today.