How to Make Time Tracking More Accurate and Effortless

How to Make Time Tracking More Accurate and Effortless

What would you do if you found out that each person in your company lost $50,000 in annual revenue due to inaccurate time tracking of emails, or if 40% of your team were not even tracking time spent on emails to begin with?

Perhaps it wouldn’t make you feel so bad if you knew that the entire professional services sector as a whole loses $7.4 billion a day because of scenarios just like the above.

Time is Money
Accelo

Time tracking itself, the process of documenting how one is using one’s time, doesn’t seem that difficult. However, the loss of billions of dollars a day proves otherwise.

Let’s take a closer look at why current approaches to time tracking just aren’t working, what professional service agencies and organizations can do about it, and how to make the time tracking process more effortless with software and strategic planning.

The Problem with Most Time Tracking Reporting

According to data from American Management Association Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey, almost half of employers monitor the time employees spend on computers while at work.

Many employers monitor this behavior to ensure employees are not wasting work time on personal pursuits and are doing so for billing purposes. This monitoring can be a good practice for ensuring accurate time tracking records.

However, this still leaves the other half of American companies who are not actively recording the activities of their employees online. Furthermore, it means that employees would be the ones responsible for tracking their own time.

This important aspect already costs companies $50,000 per employee in the inaccurate tracking of billable hours for emails alone, so understanding where the issue stems is important to tracking billable and non-billable hours more accurately.

Perhaps Harvard Business Review said it best in the title of their article, Workers Are Bad at Filling Out Timesheets, and It Costs Billions a Day. Knowing that it is likely your business has its employees tracking their own time, let’s look at some reasons this is problematic.

Employees don’t understand the benefits and importance of time tracking

Communicating to employees the importance of time tracking might encourage them to be more active. Let them know that time tracking isn’t put in place to monitor their every activity and invade their privacy, rather, it is integral to the accurate billing of clients and to ensure your company has a clear understanding of human productivity.

Employees don’t set up tracking software correctly

New software is often an obstacle for employees who don’t get the correct, or appropriate amount of, training. Ensure this is not the problem at your office by providing training lessons for time tracking software so that everyone is up to speed and adoption is company-wide.

Employees don’t understand the perils of poor time management

It can be easy for employees to look at time tracking as a hinderance into productivity, regarding it as a task in and of itself and leading them to the conclusion that ‘time tracking is a waste of time.’ To avoid this type of negative mentality on time tracking, help your employees understand how to create organized, triage-driven task lists so that time tracking itself does not also zap time.

It can be easy for employees to look at time tracking as a 'waste of time'.

For example, when an employee is persuaded to plan out their day into blocks, it is much easier to move from task-to-task while staying within a preferred schedule. This also makes remembering what projects you worked on easier.

Companies don’t advise on the best format to reporting time

According to data from AffinityLive, people who more frequently fill out their timesheets are more accurate than those that do it less frequently. However, no employee wants to have to open up their time tracking software between each task to provide accurate reporting.

So, what is the best practice for reporting time then?

People who log their time once per day provide the most accurate timekeeping results.

when should you track time

Companies need to advise proper tracking of emails and meetings

Above, I mentioned that companies can lose as much as $50,000 in annual revenue due to inaccurate time tracking of emails and that as much as 40% of employees don’t track time spent on emails to begin with. According to data by McKinsey, 28% of the average workweek is spent reading and answering emails.

While not quite as bad as with email, meetings can also cause a gap for time gone untracked and thus, unbilled. Companies are two times more likely to track time spent in meetings but 20.6% of employees say they never track meeting time and another 6.5% said they rarely do. A study by Verizon went on to report that, on average, employees spend 15.5 hours a week in meetings.

If we look at the data behind these two items alone, it appears that our employees are missing out on tracking as much as 40% of their work week. Reminding employees to track their hours at the end of the day and to remind them to track emails as well as meetings is important to increasing the accuracy of this reporting.

Companies are often unaware that time tracking software can integrate with existing project and task management software for automation and ease-of-use

Time tracking can be clunky in and of itself. Logging in and out of programs, typing in submissions, saving data, and restarting the clock leave a lot of room for error.

Today’s more robust time tracking software systems are designed to add automation into the lives of our employees, connecting the pieces of software you already use to make time tracking more efficient.

How to Make Time Tracking More Accurate

Are you ready to get back that lost $50,000 per year, per employee, wasted because of poor time tracking? Here are a few tips that will help you capitalize on this integral part of your business.

Empower employees and project managers to have power over timesheets

More often than not, time tracking involves more than just the employee herself. Others involved in this top down process may also include project managers, accounting departments, human resource managers and executives.

To ensure satisfactory completion of weekly timesheets, make sure your time tracking software automatically routes timesheets to all parties involved in the approval process. Allocable’s approval workflow shows up in the approvers time and expense view where they can review the timesheets and expenses, and send reminders and notifications when needed.

Built-in approval workflow saves you and your team both time and streamlines and standardizes your approval process.

Make time tracking easier

Still stuck in the days of manual time tracking or dated time tracking applications? The problem with these data methods is that they don’t work well with the way we work.

Allocable, for example, has designed a time tracking component that connects directly to Microsoft Outlook and Office 365, meaning employees can sync their calendars directly to time tracking software without having to input anything at all.

time tracking

Many employees still use a watch or timer to help them keep track of when they started or stopped a project. However, accuracy with this type of recording only works for the most disciplined of us.

When employees can quickly launch a timer within their browser, let it count in the background, and have it send unobtrusive reminders to ensure accuracy, more people will find time tracking less burdensome.

Another way to benefit from technology is to include a time tracker that is easily editable. It’s human to forget, but it’s also human to remember a task later on, and you’ll want your software to allow this type of functionality.

Hold time tracking software workshops regularly to review best-practices

A misunderstanding of time tracking software is a poor excuse for erroneous or untracked time. To avoid this pitfall, hold time tracking workshops for new and existing employees to ensure that they understand the ins and outs of your software and how time tracking plays into the company as a whole.

Additionally, this is the perfect time to remind employees where they can be missing up to 40% of their billable hours -- in meetings or in emails. Let them know your recommended best-practices for tracking emails and meetings so they don’t miss out on this very important step.

Finally, make it a company-wide policy to track time daily as this has been proven to be the most accurate and efficient way to track time.

Automate and connect project management software with time tracking software

Understanding that meetings are a major culprit for lost time also presents an opportunity for efficient time tracking. Connect your calendar to your time tracking so that you don’t have to track time twice.

Modern time tracking software can integrate nicely with your existing task management systems so that the time you will spend, or have spent in meetings, is automatically pre filled into your timesheet.

Take Back Time

Time tracking is a big challenge in many professional service organizations resulting in the loss of an estimated 50 million hours, or $7.4 billion a day, in productivity. Take back lost time by implementing the above tips and by doing simple things like helping employees understand the importance of tracking emails and meetings, why time tracking is important and how to use your software, and how to get into good habits like filling out timesheets daily.

Try Allocable Time Tracking with Business Intelligence

​To learn more about time tracking software with added forecasting and auto-scheduling benefits, that provides a multidimensional view of workforce and project productivity analytics, Request an Invitation to try Allocable today. 

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Allocable is a cloud-based automated time tracking and business intelligence (BI) software platform that provides  a complete visualization of your workforce and project productivity data empowering you to turn information into actionable insight to optimize and forecast performance with more certainty.

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