You are here: Home Blogs Time Track Your Way To Improve Your Projects
Tuesday, 24 April 2012 22:38

Time Track Your Way To Improve Your Projects

Written by 
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Everyone in business today is constantly seeking ways to improve.  No one can afford to remain stagnant or complacent, unless they want to be overtaken by their competitors in an ever-growing market.  Here are some surefire ways to improve your business and get ahead of your competitors with very little effort or investment.

  • Use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to gauge success.

KPIs are used to measure the performance of an organization, frequently through measuring activities such as performance improvement derived from training, labor utilization rates, or customer satisfaction.  KPIs are often tied to strategy through techniques such as the Balanced Scorecard, but they don’t have to be as complicated as that to be useful and effective.

As with most things, simplicity increases efficacy.

KPIs can differ depending on strategy. They help an organization to measure progress towards their organizational goals, such as increased penetration of existing customers or markets, on time delivery or reduced scope creep.

A KPI is a key part of a specific measurable achievable relevant time-based goal (a SMART goal) which is made up of a direction, KPI, target and time frame, e.g. "Increase Average Revenue per Sale to $10,000 by December."  In this case, 'Average Revenue per Sale’ is the KPI.  The above mentioned goal wouldn’t be SMART if it wasn’t an achievable goal.  Nor would it be SMART if the word ‘December’ was left out or if it was not relevant, e.g. if this was a portion of the organization that had nothing to do with sales or marketing, like HR.

  • Track time in order to manage project risk.

Time data can make a fundamental difference to your company if collected and used correctly.  One of the ways in which time tracking can lead to success is by using it to plan for projects and then follow their progress along the way.  Knowing a project is behind schedule or over budget towards the end of the project’s life span does no one any good.  Knowing this information sooner, however, will help you act accordingly and stop wasting time and money.

How can you do this?  It is quite simple.  The early phases of a project are usually referred to as ‘requirements,’ ‘design,’ or ‘specification.’  Let’s say that after carefully tracking time on a batch of similar projects you find that the first two phases take approximately 10% of the project time.  You can then use that data to predict the length of future projects.  I’ve found this project estimation technique, an example, to be extremely accurate, regardless of whether your company’s magic number is 3% or 30%.

Not only should you track time within your company, but you should find the appropriate time accounting platform to automate it for you.  According to a major research advisory firm, fully automating the timesheet process reduces errors and staff time by 75 percent or more. Automation technologies and practices reduce improper time tracking activities and associated costs by validating project/cost code lists and monitoring approval processes electronically. Additional savings are realized by eliminating paper costs, and policy and regulatory compliance is improved.

  • Ensure that your company complies with SOX, DCAA and/or other relevant standards.

When payroll executives implement time and attendance systems to automate payroll, they often miss the chance to facilitate greater profitability throughout the entire company. These payroll executives are, of course, payroll experts. They are usually not, however, experts at project accounting or billing automation.

However, the time data, if collected appropriately, can also be used to automate project management, project accounting, project tracking and project estimation improvement, as well as for internal, external and reverse billing automation -- and any of these can become SOX concerns. Most payroll and HR executives know little about these subjects, but increasingly, they are being asked to rise to new challenges with federal regulation requirements being just one of them.

  • Effectively manage PTO.

Controlling and understanding PTO expense allows you to recruit better talent.  You can promise people more vacation than your competitors if you know that it's controllable.  This tips the balance in your favor, allowing you to build a better team.  It’s another way to win.

The first issue businesses need to address when creating their PTO plan is what to do about employees who quit or are terminated.  Many states require that the balance of vacation pay be paid when an employee leaves the firm unless the company has a policy that states otherwise.  If you choose to disallow vacation time to resigning employees and you run a company of high turnover—a fact of life in certain industries, like retail or food service—this allows you to reallocate the PTO that those who leave might have used in favor of those who stick around.  In essence, you can offer more generous PTO packages when recruiting than your more lenient competitors can offer, at no additional cost.  Considering the fact that employees deserve benefits commensurate with their loyalty, it is also arguably more ethical.

According to a recent Expedia.com study on U.S. vacation habits, in 2002, a typical American was granted 16 vacation days, but only took 14 days off.  Consequently, American workers handed back over $21 billion in unused vacation days to employers that year.  So be generous when you hire.  They probably won’t use it all anyway.

  • Consider SaaS (Software-as-a-Service).

We’ve already covered the need for an automated time tracking system.  A Software-as-a-Service or SaaS solution may be just what you need to increase profitability through time tracking.  Consider the following:

It removes much of your IT cost.

It reduces the risk involved in acquiring new software.

It allows you to influence product and service quality via an ongoing relationship with the vendor.

It gives you the flexibility to change usage commitments as business circumstances change.

It allows you to predict more accurately your ongoing expenses as your IT budget is tightened and scrutinized.

The prevalence of hosted project- and time-tracking solutions is on the rise, and many companies will be willing to try the model out -- especially if they understand the clear benefits. After all, all they have to lose is one month's rent.

  • Improve employee buy-in by clarifying rewards.

Choosing the appropriate time management SaaS solution will only benefit your company if you can get your employees to actually use it.  Hourly workers are easiest to convince because they want to be paid, so they already have an incentive.  And yet, everyone regardless of status should want the company to be a success, so once they understand that using time tracking to automate billing—thereby making it more accurate—leads to more revenue, they should become more open to it.  (If your employees do not care about the success of your company, timesheets won't help you.  In that case, you’d better go back to the basics of creating a moral, compelling vision of how your company makes the world a better place.)

Project accounting is more abstract than payroll or billing, and you don’t want to wind up with unnecessary overtime, stressful blown schedules, bad estimates or cancelled projects. Try relating specific examples where good time collection could have prevented problems in order to make that connection in the minds of your employees.

Time tracking and SaaS solutions are the tools that will see your business through to the next level of profitability, and in today’s competitive environment, thoroughly understanding your costs is no longer an option.

About Curt Finch 

Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx. Founded in 1996, Journyx automates payroll, billing and cost accounting while easing management of employee time and expenses, and provides confidence that all resources are utilized correctly and completely. Curt earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Virginia Tech.  As a software programmer fixing bugs for IBM in the early ‘90’s, Curt found that tracking the time it took to fix each bug revealed the per-bug profitability. Curt knew that this concept of using time-tracking data to determine project profitability was a winning idea and something that companies were not doing – yet… Curt created the world's first web-based timesheet application and the foundation for the current Journyx product offerings in 1997. Learn more about Curt at http://journyx.com/company/curtfinch.

Read 6020 times

Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx. Founded in 1996, Journyx automates payroll, billing and cost accounting while easing management of employee time and expenses, and provides confidence that all resources are utilized correctly and completely. Curt can be found on Twitter at @CurtFinch and on Google+ at +CurtFinch.

Website: journyx.com/company/curtfinch
Login to post comments

News and Promotions

Keep up to date with the latest happenings by signing up for our newsletter. Subscribe below.

Twitter Update


Parse error: syntax error, unexpected end of file in /home/spektmedia/public_html/wp-content/plugins/ccode.php on line 82

Who's Online

We have 377 guests and no members online

Got something to say?