Time Tracking Best Practices

Employee timesheets are essential to the project planning process, employee utilization, client satisfaction, and profitability. The following is a list of time tracking best practices.

Time Tracking Needs a New Purpose.

Agency owners consistently bemoan how difficult it is to motivate their employees to fill out their timesheets. This is because, when framed around invoicing clients, employees don’t really care whether they do it correctly or not. It’s for their bosses’ gain, not theirs. They want to feel independent.

Time tracking needs a new purpose. A data-centered model for time tracking re-frames the old payroll-centered method. It creates a more important purpose for time tracking: learning about work.

A data-centered model provides employees useful information for future project planning. Invoicing clients falls second in this model, and employees feel more motivated.

Create a Culture of Time Tracking.

Timesheets are the foundation of creative agencies: they serve as affirmation for the success of the business. Without enforced time tracking, work wouldn’t get done.

It’s easy to be caught up in projects and push timesheets to the wayside. However, as part of time tracking best practices, timesheets should not be an afterthought.

Time tracking is not a top-down system. For best practice, everyone must track time. From the agency owner to the administrative team to the creative professionals, timesheets have equal value and necessity across the board.

Employee utilization is part of employee assessments.  One cannot happen without the other. Without timesheets to keep track of employees’ hours, an employee has a lower chance of learning new skills and a higher chance of feeling burned out. The same goes for agency owners. Without a record of how many hours she puts in a week, there is not system to justify her decision to hire an assistant.

Separate Invoicing and Time Tracking. 

For time tracking best practices, everyone in the agency must take time tracking seriously. Once the frame of timesheet purpose has shifted from payroll to data, it’s on each individual to have precision, care, and trust when logging their hours.

Precision means recording their timing exactly, not rounding up or faking hours out of embarrassment. If a project goes over the estimated length, it must be recorded! That way, in the future, the estimate is more accurate. 

Care means employees understand that timesheet analysis is crucial to the success of their company. If an employee works two unrecorded hours every day, the project planning is based on false data. He also uses more of the budget than his boss anticipated, which decreases the sustainability rate of the agency.

Individuals might not understand the math involved behind their timesheets. They trust, however, that timesheets are crucial in the project planning process. No longer feeling like they are tracking time strictly for invoicing and profit, employees see time tracking as a responsibility instead of a chore. 

When there is transparency about how many hours everyone works a week, there is less employee burnout and more employee optimization.

Collect Budget Estimates from Timesheets.

Committed to the data-centered model and with accurate timesheets in hand, agencies use the statistics to estimate future project budgets.

Let’s say a month ago an agency finished a website for a small bakery. The website lists menu items, has a page about the local history, and even has some video tutorials. The project takes four employees and lasts two weeks. The budget for the project was $6,000 and the company profited about $1,500 from it.

This week, a pizza place contacts the agency with a similar project, but without the video tutorials. The administrative team can look back on employee timesheets and see how many hours each employee spent on the project. From there, administrators calculate cost per hour.

Using time tracking best practices, budget estimates are more accurate.

Compare Project Plans and Timesheets.

Not only does the data-centered time tracking model increase the accuracy of budget estimates, it also provides a fool-proof formula for project planning.

Consider the pizza place project from above. The data from the previous baking project shows that the new project will take less employees and less time. Perhaps three employees can finish the project in one week by working three hours a day.

Using previous data, agency owners map out future project assignments.

Avoid Double Entry, Paper, and Excel Spreadsheets.

In 2016, paper should not be a regular component of a work day. Neither should manual time entry of any sort. A cloud based time tracking system is all of the time tracking best practices wrapped into one system.

As a business grows, holding weekly, bi-monthly, and even monthly meetings seems more and more tedious. With more projects and more employees, the task of managing a creative team is too large for whiteboard updates and even Excel workbooks. With both there is a risk of double entry. Workbooks can’t process regular updates over a long period of time, and users don’t always understand the logic behind them. Whiteboards and workbooks cause more confusion than what they provide in organizational aide.

For time tracking best practices, creative agencies need a cloud based system designed for remote work. With this, users have flexibility and reliability. They work on projects from anywhere with confidence that there time is tracked accurately. 

Employee optimization, client satisfaction, and maximized profit are the essential trio that bring a company together for success. The binding agent in this fruitful concoction is employee time tracking. Using time tracking best practices sets creative agencies above their competitors.