When is it Appropriate to Use a Time Tracking Tool?

Yura Bryant Yura Bryant December 1, 2016

time tracking

As business owners, we understand that in order to be successful, we need to run our businesses efficiently.

Time management is a major efficiency issue that both individuals and organizations have to deal with. When time is wasted, money is wasted. You cannot waste either when you are working towards growing your business. You have your employees, vendors, customers, and outside factors that draw time and money away from your business. As a manager, you are responsible for figuring out how to gain control over each of these factors.

Though you can’t control outside factors or agents, you can control how your employees use their time within your organization.

Managing Your Employees with a Time Tracking Tool

You should implement a time tracking tool in your organization if you want your employees to produce the best results within the time allocated to them. You may have found that a lot of times your employees tend to produce below average returns when they are left to themselves.

This doesn’t help your business grow, and you are losing both time and money as a result. You don’t have time to micromanage your employees because it wastes your time and disrupts your own productivity. Therefore, you need the benefit of a tool that does this key management for you.

What are the Benefits of Implementing a Time Tracking Tool?

Billing and Financial Benefits

A time tracking tool gives you the ability to improve your pricing and estimated quotes. When you know how much time it typical takes to complete a project, you can produce a quote that doesn’t undercut the actual cost. It is better to slightly overcharge a client, and then have them pay less once the work has been completed under budget. When you have to go back and increase your quoted prices, this will annoy your clients, and they will believe you are trying to pull one over on them.

Monitoring Employees

You want to identify which employees are working hard and which ones are slacking off. You can then reward your hardworking employees and either improve the output of your underperforming employees or fire them. This will help to ensure you have a workforce of people who are dedicated to being productive while on your clock.

Monitoring Workflow

With a time tracking device, you can learn how well your team is doing when working on projects. You can see each person’s individual strengths and their weaknesses. This will help you put the right people in the right positions to ensure your projects are completed on time and with great quality.

Improve Customer Service

You are able to let your clients know the progression of their projects, which helps to maintain a good relationship. The time tracker also lets you provide your client with a complete breakdown of work that was done and the time it took. This shows them exactly what they are paying for, so no objections about billing will occur.

As you can see, the benefits that are produced from implementing a time tracking tool prove to be worth the effort. When your business performs better, you attract more clients and keep existing clients long-term.

What you will need to do is identify which employees would benefit most from working with a time tracking tool. As all employee positions are measured by results, it is important that certain employee’s time is tracked so you can pay them exactly for the results they produce within a designated timeframe.

Which Employee’s Time Should be Tracked?

Any employee that works outside of your office should definitely track their paid time. You don’t see what these employees do when they are outside of your organization’s walls, so you need to be able to know if work is actually being done.

  1. Salespeople

Your salespeople make calls and send emails to schedule appointments with leads and prospects. A lot of their time is spent talking for hours and traveling outside of your offices. You need to measure their productivity to see where they can improve their performance. By having them monitor the time spent on a call, you can determine if the time spent is reasonable for the type of call. If it isn’t, you’ll have the opportunity to coach them.

This helps to increase their output by leaving them more time to make more contacts. Instead of your salespeople spending 45 minutes on one phone call, have them spend 15 minutes max on each phone call. Instead of your salespeople spending two hours meeting with prospects, they need to cut their meeting timeline in half so they can have more meetings in a day.

Sales is a volume job, so you need for your salespeople to operate with a volume mindset. They cannot waste their time producing minimal sales results. This hurts both your business’s growth and their ability to make money. Therefore, if they have a time tracking tool to manage their output, they will be compelled to improve their performance.

  1. Virtual Assistants

Virtual assistants don’t work in your office, so it is hard to know if they’re billing you correctly. You could be billed for hours that aren’t actually being worked, which is a waste of money and a violation of your trust.

When you believe that your virtual assistant is taking advantage of you, you begin to display contempt when interacting with them. You can’t have a healthy working relationship when you don’t trust the people you are paying. To eliminate any mistrust, have your virtual assistants agree to having their time tracked.

Since a virtual assistant’s work is done on the computer, you will need an effective time tracking tool that completely monitors their work in progress. Knowing the tasks you have your virtual assistant doing, you have a thought in mind of how much your invoice will cost. Calendar management is fairly simple, while database building and research can take more time. You are then surprised when you get an invoice that is more than you expected. Therefore, it is important that you know exactly how much time is being dedicated to these more time consuming tasks.

For instance, Upwork has a time tracking option where clients can have their freelancer’s workflow tracked. The tool takes screenshots and tracks keystrokes of the work in progress, so that you can know how much work has been done and the amount of time it took to complete. This system allows for a better working relationship because no one is getting over the other.

Which Employees don’t Benefit from Time Tracking?

Employees in any creative position or leadership positions may not benefit from a time tracking tool. Their work revolves around understanding the thoughts and actions of people, which can take time to figure out and act upon.

  1. Marketing Team

Your marketing team is made up of people whose job is to understand how people think. This helps them communicate effectively with your business’s target market. Understanding people is a tricky process. They will have to experiment with different messages in order to determine which works best to gain the attention of your target market. Rushing this process can be disastrous because it can lead your entire business in the wrong direction.

While you cannot give your marketing team just a few hours to develop an effective marketing strategy, you will still need to set a timeframe for when their work should be completed. You don’t want their slow productivity to harm the productivity of the money making division of your organization — your sales team. They both work together to produce growth for your business.

Therefore, effective communication requires that you track their progress in order to ensure they don’t frustrate the efforts of other parts of your business.

  1. Management Team

Management also has to deal with understanding human behaviour –– that of your employees. When your responsibilities include managing people, your time cannot be tracked because you never know what new issues will come up during the day. You could be in meetings for half of your day and working out team issues for the remainder of the day.

If your management team is working under a time tracker, their belief is that the quality of their work doesn’t matter. They believe that as long as their tasks are being completed within the designated timeframe they’re doing what is right. So you will be sacrificing quality in favor of tasks being completed at a faster pace.

Therefore, it does more harm than good to have your management team operate under a time tracking tool. Management tends to make bad decisions when they’re rushed to make important decisions. This rushed decision making can set your business back all because you thought time tracking was supposed to be used for your entire organization. You don’t want to add more pressure on your management team that will hinder their performance.

Getting Your Employees to Agree to Time Tracking

Although time tracking is being used to improve the performance of your entire organization, your employees may see it as an invasion of privacy. They will believe that you don’t trust them and are micromanaging their work. This leads to dissent in your organization which will disrupt the productivity you hoped to improve.

It is best to demonstrate how the time tracking tool will not only benefit the company but also your employees on an individual level. Discuss how a growing and strong performing company leads to more money being generated, which helps to give your employees bonuses and raises.

For example, salespeople are all about making more money. The more money they can make, the harder they will work. Show how a time tracking tool will allow them to make more money and they will be receptive to working under its management.

You will want to take the focus off of the time tracking tool itself and place it on improvement. Point out how your company is working towards gaining control of a specific market share, and it will take an improved team effort to gain that position. Communicate that you are implementing this tool with the purpose of improving business operations, and not to be a dictator over people’s jobs.

Communicate individually with each employee who will be working with the time tracking tool. Show where you believe their performance will be greatly improved from using the time tracking tool. When you point out where you notice their deficiencies are occurring and how it hurts the entire organization, they will be more receptive to using the time tracking tool to improve their results.

What are Some Time Tracking Tools You can Use?

  • Time Doctor – Time Doctor has pretty much everything you need for managing your contractors or employee’s time. We actually use Time Doctor here at Empire Flippers, and it has worked great for us.
  • HoursTracker:  HoursTracker tracks time, earnings, expenses, payment periods, and breaks. It comes with a user-friendly interface, which allows employees to instantly clock in and clock out. The app has the capability to do it automatically based on whether your employees are arriving at or leaving their job location.
  • Toggl:  Toggl is easy to use and can be connected with various tools for increased productivity. Toggl is a time tracking app that provides users with amazingly detailed reports.
  • Timely:  Timely can be used as both a time tracker and a calendar for your employees due to one of the main features being unique calendar integration. Employees can plan their projects in advance and start logging accordingly. This allows you to see how productive they really are by comparing the time spent working with the time that was planned for that work.
  • ATracker:  ATracker shows your employees everything they have done throughout the day. The reports the app creates can help you check what your employees spend the most time on. The app has recently allowed implemented network sync via Dropbox so that you can have daily automatic backups to Dropbox.
  • Upwork: Upwork allows employers to monitor the work progress of contract workers. It takes screenshots, records keystrokes, mouse clicks, etc. The tool is great for knowing exactly the amount of work that has been done, and the amount of time it took.

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Using a Time Tracking Tool to Grow Your Business

The benefits of a time tracking tool far outweigh the negative perceptions that come initially come with its use. When you are able to accurately analyze where your employees are underperforming, this insight helps to strengthen your business.

When you are communicating that you are focused on improving productivity for all (employees and customers), you will increase the strength of these relationships. You are helping your employees improve their work performance to make more money, and you are improving quality of work for your customers. This is a win-win for both parties.

As a business owner, you need to create a competitive advantage in any area of your business where you can improve. The slightest improvement can lead to huge gains. Implement a time tracking tool where appropriate and experience how your business profits as a result.

Photo credit: photoshkolnik

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