For professional services organizations (marketing agencies, managed services providers, architecture firms, engineering firms, etc.), time tracking is much more than team members clocking in and out.
Depending on your organization’s particular structure and services, you likely charge either per hour or per project. If you’re paid by the hour, the need for accurate time tracking is pretty obvious. But even if you get paid by the project, you need a way to accurately estimate cost.
When you first agree to take on a project, both your team and the client need to know approximately how long it will take to complete the work and how much it will cost. So you estimate, plan, budget, and come up with a timeline.
However, variables are an inherent part of project-based professional services work, so no matter how carefully you plan your project, it’s only an estimate. If you’re not carefully monitoring your team’s time, it’s easy to lose control of your project and run over budget.
When you know exactly how many hours have been spent on each task by each team member, you can look at how your progress fits into the big picture — are you on track, or do you need to make adjustments? In other words, more visibility means more control and a greater chance for success.
For professional services agencies that are just starting out, spreadsheets are a common time tracking tool. But as an agency grows and takes on more (and bigger) projects, it’s critical to prioritize accuracy and efficiency — both of which are lacking in most spreadsheet systems.
Let’s get this obvious one out of the way: There are a ton of free time tracking tools available online, and many of them are better options compared to purchasing software you don’t necessarily need.
As your agency grows, you’ll get more and more value from streamlined processes. Just because a particular time tracking tool would work for your organization at the moment doesn’t mean it would still be efficient one year from now.
The right time tracking software or app will save time and effort for your team through automation and self-driving features.
With an automated time tracker, team members don’t have to manually input their hours at the end of the day. This frees up time to actually work on client projects — the work that really matters to your organization.
Similarly, when team members can easily and accurately track their time, managers can focus on leading their teams rather than dealing with logistical time tracking concerns.
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Workplace surveillance has been a hot topic for the past few years, and it’s no surprise that poorly executed productivity tracking systems can make employees feel undervalued and micromanaged.
Especially for creatives, rigid time constraints can create stress and negatively impact performance. Experts agree that to prevent low morale, organizations should aim for a balanced approach when it comes to monitoring employees.
Wait, didn’t we just say time tracking tools can be bad for morale?
It all depends on your reasons for time tracking and how you implement your policy — the right kind of time tracking can actually increase morale. To put it simply, the tool you choose should be helpful for the whole team.
Here are a few ways that a high-quality tracking tool can benefit team members:
Between marketing, sales, contracts, project management, and invoicing, you probably already have quite a few platforms and software solutions in your workflow. Depending on the time tracking tool you choose, adding another platform to your tech stack might end up creating more work and cost, especially if there aren’t integrations available.
If your team members have to manually move data from one platform to another or improvise methods for connecting software, that extra labor will likely cancel out any efficiency improvements you’d get from the time tracking tool itself.
Luckily, some time tracking tools come with powerful integrations. When your CRM, project management, time tracking, and invoicing solutions are all seamlessly integrated with one another, that translates to less work for you and your team members — and more ROI from your tech stack.
One of the most useful products of a high-quality time tracking system is data. A platform with solid reporting capabilities is a huge advantage, because it offers more visibility into where your organization’s time goes.
Looking at time tracking stats and trends can help you…
Professional services organizations face unique time tracking challenges that require specialized solutions. And for the vast majority of agencies and firms, time tracking spreadsheets just aren’t powerful enough to justify how much time and effort they require to build and maintain.
There are plenty of free time tracking tools out there that each have their own pros and cons. When you find a high-quality tool, however, that eliminates most — if not all — of the cons.
PSOhub is not your average time tracking tool. It’s a comprehensive professional services automation (PSA) platform, built to integrate with your tech workflows and streamline how you manage projects and collect cash.