Time Tracking Benefits
All businesses where employees spend most of their working hours away from office or working on a computer can benefit from time tracking.
Part I: Who Tracks Time & Why
All businesses where employees spend a lot of time working on a computer or who spend most of their working hours away from office can benefit from time tracking.
Time tracking is useful for all businesses that:
- Work with clients and bill by the hour
- Have a mix of office and remote workers, and flexible working time
- Want to improve productivity and profitability
Freelancers and independent consultants
Freelancers use time tracking to:
- Show their clients proof, in the form of reports, that they did the assigned work
- Record all idly spent time so they can minimize distractions and procrastination while working from home
- Boost productivity by setting deadlines for micro-tasks within a project
- Create better estimates for future projects by analyzing the time it normally takes to finish projects
- Keep track of their billable hours so they can invoice clients and analyze whether they’re profitable
Virtual and remote teams
Businesses where all team members are working in different locations can use time tracking to:
- Provide proof they worked on their assignments
- Motivate team members to be productive, as joint reports show everyone’s contribution
- Make straightforward schedules, available to all team members
- Monitor all team members by using time tracking software with the option to capture random screenshots of their computers, to show whether they are working or not
Businesses with office, remote, and on-field workers
In a business that relies on a mix of office and remote, on-field workers, time tracking can help:
- Track work from afar, considering that the project manager can’t supervise everyone personally
- Enable remote and on-field workers to send detailed reports on their progress in a project
- make sure the workers’ progress in a project is well documented, so they can rest assured the emplOyer will pay them appropriately
- Improve the overall communication between project manager and the workers
Businesses that work with clients
No matter if they work by the hour or for a flat fee, businesses that work with clients can use time tracking to:
- Create a trustworthy relationship with the client, who receives accurate information about the project progress and cost estimates
- Bill clients more accurately, based on the actual cost of the project and the time and resources necessary to finish it
- Assess the profitability of their projects by looking at the time reports and asking themselves: Are they charging according to their actual work, or should they raise their rates? Are they focusing on profitable projects or are they spending too much time on unprofitable activities?
Businesses that bill by the hour
Freelancers and companies who work with clients and bill by the hour use time tracking to:
- Generate invoices based on the time they spent working on a project and their hourly rates
- Bill more accurately, as every second that went into a project is carefully documented
- Maximize revenue
Businesses that want to improve productivity
Even businesses who don’t work with clients, but are interested in the overall efficacy, track time to help asses their productivity levels:
- Are employees achieving the desired results within deadlines?
- Or are they spending too much time being idle?
Time tracking will help employees evaluate how they spend their working hours, and help motivate them to be more productive and better organize their time.
Businesses that have a flexible working pattern
Businesses where employees have flexible working hours track time to:
- Provide reports on when employees arrive to work, when they leave, and how much time they spend at the office
- Create accurate payroll
- Record overtime, PTO, and vacation
Part II: How Much Money Does Time Tracking Save
The actual amount of money time tracking can save you depends on the:
- Size of your company
- Number of members in the team
- Complexity of client billing
However, there is a significant difference between the revenue of companies who track time and those that don’t. Unlike the companies who don’t track time, the companies who track time:
- Are aware of the amount of workload they can take on within a certain time period
- Are aware of their team’s productivity levels
- Can better estimate deadlines and expenses
All of this leads to more quality projects, to better relationships with clients, who become returning clients and spread the word about your company, which leads to more clients and better revenue.
Time tracking also saves money when you use features in time tracking software that automate a lot of administrative work and help you analyze where you spend your time.
Better productivity = more money
Time tracking helps you gain a better insight in how you spend your time, so you can prioritize better.
For example, if you’re trying to improve productivity, you can time track your typical work day, and analyze how you’ve spent your time. After viewing a time tracking report of your day, you can prioritize better, create better schedules, and gain motivation to be more productive.
- 09:00-09:20 - Checking your inbox and replying to emails (20min)
- 09:20-10:00 - Delegating work to team members (40min)
- 10:00-10:30 - Researching for a project (30min)
- 10:30-10:50 - Checking your inbox and replying to emails (20min)
- 10:50-11:50 - Administrative tasks (1h)
- 11:50-12:15 - Browsing your Instagram feed (25min)
- 12:15-12:45 - Lunch and coffee break (30min)
- 12:45-13:45 - Helping a team member with a task (1h)
- 13:45-14:00 - Browsing today’s trending news on Twitter (15min)
- 14:00-14:20 - Administrative tasks (20min)
- 14:20-14:50 - Checking your inbox and replying to emails (20min)
- 14:50-15:40 - Discussing a project issue with your team (50min)
- 15:40-16:40 - Reviewing project documents (1h)
- 16:40-17:00 - Re-working the project schedule (20min)
This time report can help you identify time that you:
- Could delegate to more important tasks, or minimize (like the 1 hour you spend checking your inbox and replying to emails)
- Spend idle (like those the 40min you spend on social media)
Once you know how you spend your time at work, you can aim at being more productive and more efficient. More productive work hours lead to more work done, and more work done leads to more money earned and saved.
Better project cost estimates = more money
Time tracking helps you bill your clients more accurately, as you’ll have a better understanding of the actual project costs.
Maybe you don’t actually charge your clients the rates you should be charging. If finishing a project takes longer than you expected, and you encounter additional issues, the project costs may rise beyond your first estimates, and you’ll have to be able to present that to the client.
With the help of a time tracking solution, namely, time tracking software, you’ll be able to generate accurate reports to present to clients, and point out all the additional issues that lead to the increased project costs.
Also, you’ll be able to create better estimates for future projects, and save money in the long run.
Less time on paperwork = more money
Time tracking software helps you save time by automatically generating reports, invoices, and handling payrolls.
If you operate your business without this software, you have to do a lot of important paperwork manually. This robes you of the time you can otherwise spend on more profitable activities.
For example, if you don’t use time tracking software, you manually have to:
- Go through reports - 20min
- Calculate how much each employee needs to be paid - 30min
- Fill out invoices - 30min
This is 1 hour and 20 minutes everyday, or 6 hours every week you spend on paperwork. If you bill your work by the hour, that’s 24 hours worth of lost profit per month.
If your hourly rate is $50, that means you could save $1,200 per month by simply using a time tracking app.
If you use time tracking software, you can automatically handle payrolls, generate reports and invoices in a matter of minutes.
Part III: The Benefits Of Time Tracking For Teams
When working in a team, especially in a larger team, you may not know:
- Whether everyone is doing their share of the work
- How long it takes your team members to complete their assignments
- Whether your team members are working on their assignments at all
When team members don’t have this information, it can become difficult to synchronize all work, complete projects within deadline, and even within budget.
Time tracking helps team members gain insight in the mentioned points and gives teams the opportunity to work on resolving them, for better results on future projects.
There are several specific benefits of time tracking for teams:
- It helps maintain motivation and high productivity levels
- It helps in resolving potential issues and conflict
- It helps teams organize and prioritize better, to reach personal and shared goals
Time tracking helps maintain motivation and high productivity levels
With time tracking, it becomes possible to know what your team members do during work hours, and how much time they spend on each activity.
When team members record their time and make it public, it becomes inevitable that they start comparing results:
- Why are Brian’s time results better than mine?
- Why do I spend so much time on unprofitable activities and being idle?
- What can I do to improve my results?
These questions can be quite motivational and inspire team members to aim at being more productive and responsible with their time.
Time tracking helps in resolving potential issues and conflict
Sometimes, there may be a problem with a project segment, causing delay in the project delivery. But, once everyone discloses their time tracking results, teams may be able to identify the members facing issues so they can work on resolving them together.
Also, conflicts may arise on the amount of time it will take to finish a project. Different team members may have different opinions on this matter, so it is vital to track the time it usually takes to finish each segment. This way, the team members will have a better understanding of the time it takes them to finish their segments and they’ll be able to set more accurate project deadlines.
Time tracking helps teams organize and prioritize better
Tracking time can help teams work towards their shared and personal goals, and contribute to the team’s overall results
For example, if you want your time results to be as good as your colleague's, you can analyze your tracked time in order to identify where you waste your time and what areas you can work on.
Afterwards, you can work on organizing better and prioritize to achieve the personal goal of having the same, or better, time results than your colleague’s.
When you organize work on your project assignments better, the team may be more likely to finish within deadline.
When you prioritize your tasks, in such a way that you focus more time and attention on profitable activities, you help lessen project costs.
In conclusion, when team members use their time results to motivate themselves to work harder on reaching personal goals, they are also working on reaching the team’s shared goal - a project completed within budget, within deadline, and in the best possible way.
Part IV: The Benefits Of Time Tracking For Small Businesses
Just like other businesses, small businesses have to finish projects within deadline, gain returning clients, gain a profit, reach their goals and all of this with limited budget and fewer employees
Because of these limitations in resources, time is a valuable asset to small businesses.You have to to carefully allocate available time, so that all aspects of a project are finished in the most efficient way possible.
In order to make use of available time and ensure people stay competitive, small businesses have to pay special attention to:
- Prioritizing tasks
- Tracking all expenses
- Keeping productivity at the highest level
- Avoiding bad habits, such as multitasking or procrastination
If you own or work at a small business, time tracking can help you with all of these points.
Time tracking helps in prioritizing tasks
In smaller businesses, a small number of employees often has to take on multiple roles within a project, juggle a lot of work, all at a strict deadline. The owners of small businesses are also pressed for time, as they have to supervise all employees and assignments.
When employees track the time they spend on each activity, it becomes clear how much time they spend on assignments within a project, and how much time they can save.
By tracking their time results, small businesses can prioritize better, as:
- Employees can understand what tasks bring enough money in relation to the time spent on them. They can then start focusing more time on these profitable tasks in future projects.
- Owners can decide whether a task should be scrapped, because it isn’t useful in relation to the profit it brings and time it consumes
- Owners can decide whether they need to hire more staff, to help with the work
- Owners can see whether they are micromanaging, when instead they should delegate some of their tasks to employees
Time tracking helps in tracking expenses
Small businesses have a limited budget, so they have to manage tasks in such a way that they keep their revenue at a healthy level. It is vital that owners track all expenses and take into account:
- The profitability of projects
Are certain projects actually profitable in relation to the time and effort that goes into them? Or should you increase client fees? Time tracking can provide answers, so you can provide clients the reasons for the raise in your rates.
- Contribution of employees
Are all employees contributing equally in terms of time and effort they put in projects? Or are they costing the small business money by focusing too much time on unprofitable tasks, and missing deadlines as a result? Maybe they’re even wasting their time on idle activities?
Time tracking can help you tell the valuable employees and the bottleneckers apart.
Once you start giving profitable projects and assignments priority, and making sure everyone is doing their share of the work, you can expect your expenses to decrease.
Time tracking helps in keeping productivity at the highest level
Productivity leads to greater effort, and greater effort leads to more work done, so it is important to maintain high productivity levels during working hours.
Helps organize schedules so that employees work on tasks only 90 minutes at a time
Working on one task for the entire day you spend at work, with only one or two breaks, will only make you feel drained and eager to finish no matter the quality.
But, when employees work at a task for no more than 90 minutes and then take a break, they concentrate better and achieve more quality results.
Helps distribute strictly planned time to less important tasks
Answering emails and constant meetings bring no actual value to your work, but you still may have to address them sometime.
For example, if you measure the time it usually takes you to answer emails you can:
- Start working on answering emails faster
- Leave this task for a certain part of the day (early morning or at the end of the day)
- Plan your time in advance, in such a way that you save your most productive hours of the day for more important tasks
Helps by making everyone’s time results visible to everyone in the company
This practice makes employees compare results, and will encourage them to work on achieving equal or better time results than their colleagues, and being more productive and efficient.
When you know others are aware of how you spend time at work, you’ll aim to be more responsible with your time. This means you’ll be motivated to avoid spending hours answering emails, checking your phone, watching videos on YouTube, and procrastinating.
Time tracking helps to avoid bad habits
Multitasking may sound like a great way to save your time, and finish 5 tasks for the time it usually takes you to finish 1 task, but this is not something our brains are actually capable of.
When we multitask, we only make sure we perform subpar on 5 tasks, instead of finishing 1 task properly.
Small businesses usually survive on returning clients so it is vital that they satisfy clients by finishing each project in the best possible way. This isn’t possible if a project is rushed and underdeveloped due to multitasking.
When employees track time, it becomes impossible to multitask, because they have to record the start time of each task, the end time, and the duration. So, when tracking time, employees have to work on each task separately, one at a time, for accurate results.
Once multitasking becomes impossible, small businesses can be sure employees dedicate appropriate amount of time and attention to each segment of a project, so clients are more satisfied with the end result.
Part V: The Benefits Of Time Tracking For Managers
Managers are the most important link in any business, as they:
- Coordinate all team members and supervise all project aspects
- Supervise project costs and deadline estimates, as well as employees
- Handle vital paperwork
- Work on creating a good relationship with the clients
- Carry information between team members and departments
But, if managers don’t have the data on the time spent on a project, this can be hard to do.
Time tracking can help managers get all data they need, in order to control the listed points. Time tracking data provides different benefits to different types of managers:
- Project managers
Time tracking data helps make paperwork and supervising easier
- Corporate managers
Time tracking data helps make it easier to oversee project costs, deadlines and employees
- Account managers
Time tracking data helps improve the company's relationship with clients
Benefits of time tracking for project managers
When all team members track their time during work hours, the project manager can use this data to:
- Handle vital paperwork with ease
Time tracking results make it easier to process everyone's payroll. You can easily calculate how much money should go to each team member, based on their total hours worked and hourly rates. By tracking the team’s time, you can make sure you don’t underpay or overpay team members for the time they’ve spent working on a project.
- Make supervising team members and their work easier
If your team is tracking their time, you can have everyone’s time results and activity reports, whenever you want. By tracking the team’s time, you’ll know how each of the team members spent their time at work: on profitable activities or being idle.
Benefits of time tracking for corporate managers
When all employees track their time, the corporate manager has an insight in the workings within his or hercompany:
- Is the client fee adequate for the effort and resources it takes to finish a project?
- Are projects always finished within deadlines?
- Are company resources divided the way they should be?
- How long it takes employees to finish certain types of projects?
- Are all employees at work?
- Are they all working on their assignments?
Time tracking results enable the you to gain insight in current project progress and project costs and deadlines.These insights help create better plans and estimates for future projects.
Benefits of time tracking for account managers
Account managers present a vital link between a company and the clients; they can use time tracking results to maintain a good relationship between the company and clients.
When all team members working on client projects track their time, you can use time tracking data to presentclients with accurate reports on progress and answers to all questions about expenses.
By doing this, you build a trustworthy relationship between your clients and your company, as clients are alwaysaware of the status of their projects.
Part VI: The Benefits Of Time Tracking For Freelancers
If you’re a freelancer, you alone have to make sure you manage your time well. This makes organizing time all the more valuable.
By tracking time, freelancers can:
- Bill clients accurately
- Better evaluate project costs
- Improve productivity
- Understand work limitations
Bill clients accurately
Freelancers and clients often must communicate remotely. Because of this, it’s important that the freelancers document their work progress and time they spend on all projects.
Freelancers can track time to document their work, and then use these time results to send clients accurate reports and determine how much the client should pay them (total hours worked x hourly rate)
By tracking time, freelancers can make sure they are never underpaid for their time and efforts. They can also never be overpaid, so time tracking actually helps maintain a trustworthy relationship with the client.
Better evaluate project costs
Freelancers can calculate the cost of their projects, by calculating the time that went into each project segment.
Some freelancers may find that they spend either too little time on profitable segments of a project or too much time on unprofitable activities.
For example, they may find that it takes them 1 hour to answer emails during peak hours of the day. This insight can help them minimize time they spend answering emails and allocate it to a more profitable activity.
Some freelancers may find that their hourly rates are too low for the time it takes them to finish projects. To make sure they don’t undercharge their work, freelancers can either raise rates to make their hard work pay off or better estimate future projects.
Freelancers often work at home, so they are more vulnerable to distractions and procrastination. If they track their time during work hours, they’ll understand whether they spend time productively or not.
For example, you may want to asses your productivity, so you track every activity during the day and, at the end of the day, you find that you spend:
- 20min on YouTube
- 15min aimlessly browsing the web
- 20min on Facebook
- 15min on Instagram
- Total: 1h and 10min you spend idle
Once you understand this, you’ll feel motivated to be more productive and more responsible with your work hours.
Understand work limitations
As a freelancer, you may feel that the more projects you take on, the more you’ll earn. But, understanding you work limits is more important than aiming at high profit.
Tracking the time it takes you to finish one type of project will reveal whether you are taking on more work than you can finish. For example, you may take on 5 different projects to complete within a month and find that you are struggling to do so because either:
- You complete all projects within deadline, but you perform subpar on all of them, because you did not give yourself time to focus,
- Or you try to focus on each project, and you miss deadlines
Once you determine what amount of work is too much for you to finish within a certain time period, you’ll be able to create better estimates for deadlines and the workload you should accept.
Part VII: The Benefits Of Time Tracking For Clients
Although mostly freelancers, large companies, and small businesses benefit from time tracking, the other side of the contract can benefit from it as well.
Clients often need to know whether they can trust their contractors, and they can rely on your time tracking data for:
- Accurate estimates and quotes
- Accurate billing
- Proof the project is progressing
Accurate estimates and quotes
When looking for a contractor, clients have to take into account their planned budget for the project, and the ideal time when they’ll want everything done.
By turning to a contractor who tracks time during work hours, they’ll know that the estimates for the deadlines and quotes are as accurate as possible: the chances for a sudden rise in expected fees will be minimal and they’ll know you are aware of the time needed to finish such a project, so they’ll have more faith in your deadline estimates
Contractors who track the time they spend on a project can accurately calculate their total hours worked. This means you can also bill your clients accurately, because you’ll have all the data necessary to bill clients according to your hourly rates.
Clients will never have to worry whether they are overpaying or underpaying you - they’ll have access to reports that show all the completed assignments and their expenses.
Proof the project is progressing
Sometimes, clients can feel uneasy if they don’t know whether you are making progress with the project.
- Is everything going according to plan?
- Will the project be finished on time?
- Are there any potential issues that may push the deadline back?
And if this project is a part of a larger business plan, your clients will want to know whether they can start planning further steps or not.
Clients can ask you to send them time tracking reports on your progress, to get answers to all their questions.
These reports can be daily, weekly or monthly, depending on the size of the project and your client’s interest in its progress. Once you send your clients a report, they can view:
- What amount of time went into each segment of the project
- Whether certain segments of the project are taking longer than you estimated
- Whether you are delegating time to all the important segments
- Whether they can expect further expenses before the project is completed
Once clients know all the facts regarding project progress, they can start working on:
- The further steps in their business plan
- Allocating the rest of their budget
- Contacting other types of contractors whose services they need
In order to create a trustworthy, long lasting relationship with your client, you should track the time you spend working. When clients hire contractors who tracks time, they’ll know they have found professionals who value their time, and who will, by extension, value the client’s time.