The Transformative Power of Automated Employee Time Tracking

29-Aug 2022
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Chelsea Williams SENIOR COPYWRITER

Lifestyle habit tracking has become a norm: Many of us keep track of daily steps with a wearable device, try to drink more water using bottles with measurements or watch where our money goes on a banking app.  

These actions seem reasonable and often result in changed behavior because we pay more attention to the things we record. But we don’t often think about tracking our work habits the same way. If you knew how you really spent every minute of the day at work, you’d probably be more likely to use that time as wisely as possible. 

Despite this logic, most employers don’t engage in time tracking: Just 17% of employees actively track time. In the US, an estimated 50 million work hours a day go unaccounted for as a result of not recording activities.

How would your service business transform if you were to start prioritizing utilization with the help of automated time tracking? 

We’ll talk about four elements you’ll want to consider:

Why You Should Automate Time Tracking 

Time is a funny thing. It’s like air: all around us and moving steadily, yet not all that noticeable. Without clocks, many of us would have difficulty feeling how slowly or quickly time passes. 

Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky’s research on the planning fallacy shows that people are notoriously bad at estimating how much time a task takes. Other studies demonstrate that emotions can alter our perception of time. Thus, asking people to keep track of time is not the best idea.

Manual time tracking, such as the traditional “clocking in” process, may seem simple enough, but even that has a considerable margin of error. QuickBooks reports that employers have to correct 80% of timesheets. 

While it’s better to track time manually than not at all, the most useful and efficient method is automated time tracking.

A clock running in the background does more than take the monotonous task of clicking “start” or “stop” off an employee’s plate. It builds an accurate record of productivity and team availability. Rather than just tracking an entire day and lumping every hour into one generic bucket called “work,” which often happens by default with manual methods, automation opens the door to differentiating between billable and non-billable time. This critical breakdown of employee utilization can help you determine how much to charge clients and when to hire. 

PRO TIP: Your time-tracking software should be built into your client work management platform to help you achieve results like the incredible time savings P4 Group experienced with Accelo.

How Improved Visibility Impacts Client Work

Because of the expanded granularity it offers, automated time tracking makes resource management much easier than it is with manual, less detailed methods. 

A more exact view of the day-to-day simplifies client work because it offers several advantages:

  • You can provide clients with reasonable estimates — and stick to them. With an auto-generated report, you’ll get a thorough picture of how your team’s efforts align with project budgets and timelines, which you can use to communicate realistic expectations.
  • You’ll be able to match employees’ skills with project requirements and client needs more purposefully. If your records show wide variation in the amount of time different team members apply to the same task, you’ll have the data you need to investigate and shift responsibilities.
  • Managers can get an accurate understanding of individual workload. Even if your team doesn’t use standard timesheets, moving to automated time tracking can shine a light on unbalanced work allocation and help you correct inefficiencies.
  DID YOU KNOW? It’s rare to find automated time tracking and project management capabilities in the same platform. Accelo automatically captures your employees’ billable and non-billable time and generates actual vs. estimated time reports, project completion forecasts and more. Here’s what users say about how the platform allows for more efficiency over time.  

Automated Time Tracking Benefits Employees

Despite the common fear of too much employer oversight, the availability of visible, accurate time records ultimately serves employees, too.

First, they get to overcome irrationality around time. They’ll have evidence of how much time passed while they created that work estimate, brainstormed a client’s new logo design or sent an invoice, rather than having to rely on estimates that could be scrutinized by higher-ups.

Awareness often leads to greater efficiency, as we discussed earlier. People want to get more done in less time because they know they’re being tracked — and, sometimes, they’re silently competing with themselves. This element of human nature benefits your bottom line, but it’s also helpful for your team in terms of personal growth. There’s a sense of accomplishment associated with seeing the work we’ve finished.

Of course, the idea is not to use automated time tracking simply to do more work. Ideally, your employees will find ways to stay focused and produce higher quality work, too. As they get more efficient over time, they can achieve better work-life balance.

Operational Advantages of Time-Tracking Insights 

A history of accurate data about time — our most precious resource — can add layers of confidence to every business decision you make:

  • Forecasting becomes easier and more reliable, equipping you and your leadership team with the ability to set goals that may not have been reachable without this knowledge.
  • Hidden costs, the effects of modern professional services industry challenges and departmental inefficiencies could be much more obvious, but knowing about them could help you make changes to project structure and your suite of services. 
  • Which departments or job roles are performing the best? Which are underutilized? You’ll be able to answer those questions in real time.

In turn, automating this important data gathering can help you establish and maintain an enjoyable workplace. You may be able to prevent employee turnover by keeping tabs on workload. Or, you could determine it’s time to cut unnecessary positions or tasks and offer higher pay to your most efficient and productive people. Overall, you’ll likely see positive changes in your company culture as time tracking encourages mutual respect for everyone’s time.

See how dedicating more attention to resource management with automated time tracking could transform your business: Schedule a demo of Accelo today.

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