While most people think of time tracking as a method used to manage employee payroll and efficiency, time tracking can also apply to physical equipment such as cars, trucks, and plant machinery. The amount of time a piece of equipment is in service and how long it will take to replace it can be even more costly if its real-time service life is ignored. When this concept is applied to people, the need for a time tracking tool really is Productivity 101.
There have been a number of different systems used to track employee time, starting with the honor system. Of course, this was totally dependent on the integrity of the employee and was subject to fraud. But even with the most honorable employees, this system does not allow for any type of paper trail, omitting any possibility of a reliable, detailed analysis of the hours worked during the course of the year. Paper time tracking systems depended on paper, which can be lost, damaged, or even changed if proper security measures are not enacted.
Technology and Time
Advances in technology have made it possible for time tracking to be done through time tracking tool apps such as actiTIME which not only makes it possible to efficiently and accurately report employee time and productivity, but the best ones also include the project management option. This option makes it possible to plan and accurately estimate the cost of future projects. Because modern businesses often use the team-centered approach to complete projects, tracking the productivity of various teams also helps management direct its resources to the most critical areas.
Like a piece of equipment, it is possible for inefficiencies to exist in the operation of groups. Time tracking tools will reveal time “leaks” within groups which eventually translate into cash loss. For example, if your teams are overstaffed, one of the most common problems in project management, it will be difficult to rein in costs and expenses without a time tracking tool. Also, while your focus is on completion of a project the payments due from a client can be overlooked, with the result of late payments which impedes cash flow. These are things that are interconnected while also potentially being invisible in the day-to-day operation of the business.
A recent study by the Project Management Institute shows that 64 percent of projects were successfully completed. This may seem like a high percentage given the reality that many projects are only managed chaos for one reason or another, but it also reveals that 36% of projects fail to be completed. That is 1 of every 3. Now pause to consider if 1 of every 3 employees were to fail to complete their assigned duties during the course of a year. The need for a time tracking tool becomes even more critical.
When we break this concept of leaking down to a more granular level and focus on the productivity of a given employee, the need to include technology and time tracking becomes even more important. As an example, let’s use a computer programmer who is writing code for an app. If you are only focusing on the end result, the completion of the task or project, you will be overlooking a number of other factors that potentially contribute to a number of small leaks that add up over time. That program can be performing a number of different tasks simultaneously with the help of the proper technology. These may include using a testing tool that constantly evaluates the programmer’s efficiency and optimizes application loading time. Without a time tracking tool these small losses of efficiency can cost the company thousands of dollars every year – per person.
Then there is the total number of hours that are simply wasted by employees doing things unrelated to the completion of the task or project. According to a recent survey by Salary.com companies lose more than $15 billion every year by employees doing non-project related tasks. This may include doing an errand or using their smartphone to check personal messages. Time tracking tools are not intended to turn employees into working with machine-like efficiency, but the value of a time tracking tool rests with being able to specifically identify these types of losses and rein in the amount of cash lost every year due to system inefficiencies.
If it seems like a time tracking tool is simply a way to cut costs, you can easily overlook its potential to use it as a motivational tools to reward the best and hardest working of your employees. Employee recognition for their individual efforts is key to motivation and job satisfaction. The employer who sees the reward benefit connected to a time tracker can integrate it into the business in such a way as to increase productivity even before it is introduced into the larger system. While no system or app is perfect, it is one way to increase the project completion percentages while invisibly reducing annual project costs.
The Focus of Time
Most of the focus of the use of a time tracking tool has centered on the corporation. But self-employed people who perform services for clients often have the need to streamline their own processes to increase their own bottom line. They often use the same paper systems, sometimes in conjunction with spreadsheets, to track their time and billable hours. But they feel the losses and leaks every month when they take stock of how much money they have made. A time tracking tool is a simple way of significantly reducing the amount of time spent doing unproductive tasks. A simple but effective solution can mean more money, but also more vacation time!
Whether the business is a large corporation or a sole proprietorship, being able to effectively track the amount of time spent on a project or in the day-to-day operations of a business usually means more cash in hand and less time trying to understand why there are productivity losses. Companies are always looking for ways to incentivize employees and identify the best and the brightest. Using a time tracking tool can be the answer.