Time Is Money: Why Your Agency Needs to Track Performance

By Kirsten McNeice
Talent and Employer Brand Manager
Jan 12 2021 read

Time is a digital agency’s most important resource. As a professional services firm, your value proposition lies in the time and expertise of your staff. You pay people for their time, and in exchange, they use that time to benefit your clients.

On average, digital agencies allocate about two-thirds of their monthly budget to payroll and benefits. That’s a significant investment in people’s time, and you need to know how that time gets used. 

Employee time usage determines productivity, defined as how much time it takes to produce a particular result. The less time it takes to produce work of comparable scope and quality, the more productive your company is. 

To gauge productivity, you need real-time performance management. Without accurate data about who's working on what and for how long, it's almost impossible to plan project workflows, estimate completion dates and communicate with clients. You can’t know if you’re over or under budget, nor if you’re on track to meet your deadlines.

Historical performance data isn't useful. It may be interesting, but it doesn’t help you to understand what your teams are doing right now. You need to know how long it’s taking people to do the work, when they expect to be done and whether you need to make adjustments to workflows to deliver results on time.

This doesn't have to be a time-consuming process, either. In fact, you can get more performance data with fewer hours invested, both on your end and on your team’s. 


Step 1: Ditch Manual Systems

Tracking performance manually is a productivity killer. Manual performance tracking requires your team members to record by hand what they're doing and when. These hours don't contribute to the completion of a project, so they're effectively productivity losses.

Manual record-keeping is also extremely unreliable. Your teams stay busy enough doing what you hired them to do. If you ask them to also manually track their performance, you can almost guarantee that it won’t be completely accurate.

Your employees aren’t unreliable, but they are human. They can’t truly collect real-time data because, at any given moment, they’re working on something else. It's time to take routine performance monitoring off your employees' place and assign it where it belongs — to automated systems.


Step 2: Implement Real-Time Dashboards

Real-time performance dashboards are more effective than manual processes in both accuracy and efficiency. They perform real-time performance monitoring while work is happening so people don't have to. The option still exists for team members to add or edit project hours manually, but routine performance tracking doesn’t need to take up work hours.

Also, because these performance dashboards rely heavily on automation, they’re inherently more accurate. An automated system won’t click the wrong project ID or insert the wrong number of hours. 

Automated performance tracking gives you more accurate predictions as well. A system will look at hard data to determine whether a project is tracked for on-time completion, while a professional might overestimate their own ability to get things done.

Your best bet is to find a dashboard with value-added functionality. A few features your system should have to truly bring value to your company include:

  • Creating customizable task boards 
  • Adding tasks in-platform and assign them to a team member
  • Tracking performance against budgets in real-time

That’s the beauty of an automated system. The more you tell it to track, the more information it can give you about where your people's energy is going.


Step 3: Put Automation to Work

One of the most valuable features of the real-time performance dashboard is automated notifications. These notifications serve your business in the same way as a GPS serves you when you’re driving, giving you alerts about roadblocks or faster routes ahead. 

By opting in for triggered notifications, you can stay tuned-in to issues like unexpected delays and schedule conflicts. You get updates when a project falls behind schedule or when it gets completed, so you can step in and re-allocate resources well in advance of a problem.


The Takeaway

Accurate performance data is critical to your business. You need it to evaluate the progress of your projects, communicate with clients, and set goals for the future.

Manual systems don’t provide accurate up-to-date information, and they're difficult for teams to maintain. It's time to replace those kinds of antiquated systems with dashboards that collect and report performance data in real-time. This is the data you need to make informed decisions about your company's operations and human resource use, both now and in the future.

Ready to start measuring productivity the right way? Sign up for a free Accelo trial today and get ready to take control of your most precious resource — time. You can also learn actionable steps business leaders can take to improve their productivity, efficiency and bottom line by downloading our new eBook here

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