Your business is growing, your clients are thriving, and your team is fully billable. As you’re planning your growth strategy and considering areas to invest in your business, there’s one item on your project managers’ wishlist that you should consider: time tracking software.

Project managers wear a lot of hats (and wrangle data from a lot of sources). But at some point, the dam will break, and those Excel spreadsheets will not help them perform data analysis on project trends, profitability, and forecasting.

If you hear ‘time tracking software’ and you immediately think ‘automated timesheets’, then you’re only seeing a piece of the picture. Time tracking software has come a long way. Let’s dive into what time tracking software can do for your business and why it is time to invest in it.

What is time tracking software?

Time tracking software is a suite of tools teams use to measure time spent on projects and tasks. Project managers and professional services teams use time tracking to invoice customers accurately, estimate and staff projects, and allocate resources. In short, time tracking software is a business management tool that helps business owners ensure their business succeeds.

Benefits of time tracking

Time tracking software has several benefits. It integrates with the rest of your business administration tools like your HR, payroll, accounting, finance, and CRM. This gives you a unified view of your business.

Time tracking software captures employee hours in real-time, making it easier for project managers to manage tight budgets and timelines. Unlike manual tracking methods like spreadsheets or weekly time cards completed retroactively, real-time data that feeds into project management tools can provide up-to-the-minute details and insight that could make or break your projects’ success.

Is time tracking effective?

Are your employees overwhelmed with repetitive tasks and routine project work? Is it time to hire more employees and focus them on specific areas of the business? If so, where? Tracking time manually or in Excel may have worked when your business was just getting started. But manual methods are error-prone, and do your project managers have time to analyze the data you’re collecting? Probably not.

Time tracking software can give insights to help you ward off issues before they become unmanageable. With time tracking software, you get insights that you can act on promptly. It would take months to perform manual data collection and analysis to get the insight a time tracking solution could provide at your fingertips.

The data from time tracking systems can reveal trends and help you in other areas of your business:

  • Improving project scoping to make client engagements more profitable
  • Prevent burnout by tracking who’s running ‘hot’ and in need of a break
  • Hiring decisions like the profile or background and experience you really need based on past project performance
  • And so much more. 

What are the disadvantages of time tracking?

We’ve discussed the benefits of time management software, so we should consider its disadvantages. From the employee perspective, there’s a perception that time tracking systems are put in place to monitor their behavior and every move. Suppose companies are using time tracking as a micromanagement tactic. In that case, it’s easy to understand why employees think time tracking is bad overall.

Some time tracking software includes features like screen recording and periodic screenshot capture. While there are some training benefits to capturing the full context of an employee’s work, these features can feel like an invasion of privacy.

Geolocation and GPS tracking are other features that pinpoint an employee’s location and travel data, which are great for tracking mileage and travel costs associated with client projects. However, these features can seem invasive and an overreach by employers monitoring their employees’ productivity.

How can I get my teams to buy into time tracking?

The abrupt shift to remote work during 2020 introduced a phenomenon that Microsoft termed ‘productivity paranoia’ - employees saying they are productive at work and leaders having difficulty believing that their employees are productive. 

Time tracking is the best way to get the most insight into employee productivity and the blockers that may keep them from focusing on essential tasks. Emphasizing the importance of time tracking to your project management process instead of a way to monitor employee behavior is the key to helping teams buy into your time tracking system. Ready to get your team started with time tracking? This free guide provides actionable tips for introducing your team to a time tracking tool and encouraging consistency.