Five minutes. That’s how long I spend on my email inbox at the start of my day, every day.
I used to get easily distracted, sometimes spending upwards of half an hour just going through my email.
And by “going through” I do mean just reading them. No replying, no creating tasks.
It was a very unproductive time, really, until I actually hunkered down and started tracking my time to figure out how much time I wasted every day on my inbox.
Once I looked at my time tracking data I got a wake up call. For a small business owner (and a self-confessed workaholic), 30 very unproductive minutes–every day!–means 30 minutes being spent not growing my company.
Not only was it a waste of time, it was a waste of resources. And what’s worse? I was the the one doing it.
Nowadays, it’s like clockwork: everything important gets marked down as such or turned into tasks using WORKetc’s Gmail gadget within those five minutes.
Now, time tracking almost always gets a bad rap. “It’s a waste of time”. “It’s too much micro-management”. “It’s (ironically) too time-consuming”.
What it actually is, however, is the one way to accurately track what you and your employees are spending your precious time on at any given point.
You may not be able to make up for lost time, but by tracking time you can definitely work to make up for it in the future.
By keeping accurate records and timesheets, you can, for example, pinpoint which tasks are taking up too much of the company’s time and, like me, streamline those tasks to increase productivity.
That’s just one benefit of tracking your time in WORKetc, whether you’re using the web app, the desktop timer, or the WORKetc mobile apps. Here are three more.
Accurately Bill Every Single Billable Hour
Do something enough times and you’ll be able to give a rough estimate of how long it’ll take you to do that thing.
When it comes to business, though, rough estimates can only go so far. Bill a client based on a rough estimate and you’ll end up sending them an incorrect invoice.
Let’s say you run a small digital design business. Your rough estimates put a simple logo design job at 40 hours, so that’s what you bill for. You take on four of these design jobs every month.
If in reality every design job takes 50 hours instead, you’re already losing out on 480 billable hours every year.
For a small business, that’s a lot of time and money going down the drain.
By accurately tracking time, you’ll be able to bill your clients for the exact amount of hours you’ve spent on that project.
No billable hour—or even minute—goes unbilled.
Create More Accurate Quotes
Being able to accurately track time spent on a project also means that you can turn your rough estimates into near-exact projections.
Not only will your business be able to bill every hour accurately, such as in the previous example, your clients will appreciate receiving accurate quotes.
WORKetc has multiple timesheet-specific reports that you can use to adjust and improve your quotes.
One of the most useful for this task will be Timesheets: Data, which gives you a complete overview of every single timesheet you’ve recorded in WORKetc, whether they’re billable or non-billable, invoiced, or attached to specific projects.
You can also sort the report results according to activity type, which is literally what you’re doing when you record a timesheet. In a digital design scenario, for example, if you’re working on a logo design, you would create and select the activity “Logo Design”.
If you’re doing basic administrative work, on the other hand, you’d use an “Admin” activity instead.
You can also use smartlists to really drill down into your project and task timesheet data and get an accurate view of how long specific project and task types are taking you to complete.
Let’s say your digital design company has been using WORKetc for exactly a year today. You want to know if time spent on your logo design tasks have actually improved over the past year.
You can simply create a WORKetc smartlist that filters for timesheets that use the “Logo Design” activity logged within the past year.
Need to go even deeper into the data? You can easily create a smartlist that filters for timesheets attached to specific project and task types, tags, or even specific clients.
Using the data from these smartlists, you can spot bottlenecks and areas that need improvement. You can also use the data to decide whether or not it’s time to update your rates.
Get Ahead of Sudden Scope Changes
Scope creep is the bane of every project manager.
Sometimes clients think they want one thing and then suddenly decide to add or remove deliverables. Sometimes your team don’t quite understand the project requirements. Sometimes both—and more—happen.
Whatever the case, these changes can have very massive effects on your project schedule and budget.
Your original quote? That gets blown out the door. The project schedule becomes a mess. More and more hours are tacked on just to handle the bloated scope, which in turn eats up your project budget like a school of hungry piranha
By letting you accurately track exactly how much time and money you’ve sunk into a project, WORKetc’s timesheets, used alongside the projects module’s Budget tab, can help you manage scope creep before you end up going into the red.
Let’s say your digital design company’s logo design project has an allocated budget of $1,500 for five days’ work. You’ve already sent your client the third of three revisions, but he requests one last revision.
Since you’ve been tracking your time religiously in WORKetc, the Budget tab in your projects module shows that you’re actually well ahead of schedule, having spent only 32 of the 40 hours you mentioned in your original quote.
The Budget tab also informs you that you’re still well within the allocated $1,500 budget.
Since you have time available and you’re still making money on the project, you can choose to accept the additional revision without any extra charges.
That’s extra value you can provide your client without sacrificing too much of your time and resources or losing out on profits. A win-win.
Time tracking is our best/most used feature. It’s useful so we know how long we’re actually spending on projects but also, and more importantly, so the customer knows how long we’re spending on projects. No point having an hourly rate if you don’t actually know how many hours you’re spending!
We’re not using WorkEtc but I agree with the takeaways. Despite a good UI for the timetracker to ease the job, it still remains a chore. And an important one because correct data is key for our internall planning process and guarantee we can invoice correctly.
We’ve recently partnered with a healthcare system for purely consulting purposes. But we’ve only been focused on time tracking for billing requirements – not necessarily for the data time tracking can give us for future projects. It’s one of the reasons we chose WORK[etc] because we knew we were entering healthcare consulting and needed a way to track time. I’ll have to go back to the drawing board on this one and incorporate tags, etc. to think through this component a little more strategically.
One of the reasons we were excited about switching to WorkETC is that all of our employees can track their time in one central place (instead of tertiary software or spreadsheets). Better still, we were overjoyed that we would be able to EASILY pull timekeeping reports based on type, project or client. I have had to try to pull together timekeeping for various projects before and it is extremely time-consuming when you basically have to manually enter everyone’s hours based on whatever criteria you are trying to see. We having been slowly moving all of our processes over into WorkETC, and timekeeping is the next big step for us. We are aiming to have a full switch as of January 1, so for the remaining 3 weeks of December we are preparing SOPs and figuring out what nifty reports we will want to run. Very excited for this new adventure!
One of the things that irritates me about my company is we seem to have a separate program for everything. It can get very confusing! The program we use for payrole/timekeeping is tedious. I am going to present using WORKetc as an alternative, as we are already using it for other tracking needs.
I think also it would be beneficial to see how much time our employees are spending on certain projects- to plan accordingly for future projects. The incorporation of tags will be very helpful.
Overall this post really got the wheels in my head spinning!
We use time-tracking for several reasons, the #1 reason being to get paid for what we do. We like to quote jobs, but offer clients the option of a “time and materials” approach. Much more often than not, simply doing the job by time saves the client money (sometimes significant amounts), simply because we don’t have to build-in for “what-ifs” in a quote.
I like that time-tracking helps developers give better estimates of the time that a job will take. In my experience, developers often pride themselves on how quickly they can do a task…which leads to overly optimistic estimates. By tracking time, they can get a feel for what the job actually takes, including proofing, testing, delivery and documentation and training the client…components of the job that often take as much or more time than the job itself.
Another reason to use time-tracking is for routine jobs, especially those assigned to new associates. We realize that they’ll take a bit longer than a veteran to get the job done for the first client. A bit less time for the second time through, etc. We want them to realize their progress in time-saving as they repeat a job. And if they don’t realize time-savings as they repeat tasks, it is a signal to us that they may require a bit more coaching.
This one is pretty intense. For us, we really use the project management, sales leads, and a few other items. We break ours down into a administrative task that need to get done on each day. I am not sure if I would use these features in my business. We only have one part time person and a consultant on occasion. Eventually we want to have multiple locations and then when we bring on more people, it may make sense.
We’ve been using a different application for time tracking our production projects (as it provides a greater level of sophisticated reporting and milestone management than WorkEtc) but recently I have been trialling the WorkEtc desktop timer. While I’ve found it OK for project work, using the timer against Support Cases is a new for us – it lets us track the time we spend providing information to customers and report this time back to other clients whom we have management relationships with. This is an improvement for us and our clients.