Time Tracking Needs a New Purpose

For creative agencies, the importance of time tracking should not be framed around payroll and invoicing. Too often, agency owners expect their employees to track hours on timesheets for the sole purpose of invoicing clients and handing out paychecks. This is a payroll-centered model for managing employees: track your hours so your boss can make money invoice clients and then cut payroll. Who wants to do this?

Consider our software system Bric as an alternative to this old method.  Bric is a data-centered model for managing a creative agency.

A New Purpose for Time Tracking.

Using Bric employees still track time. We make it easy. Employees log in to Bric, start the stopwatch, and then assign it to their current project. the project they were working on. 

Then the magic starts. Using this timesheet data, Bric calculates their hours and analyzes budget, employee availability, and project deadlines.  In this data-centered model, creatives focus on their creativity.

Data-centered models are framed around employee optimization and client satisfaction, which lead to success for the agency owner. For instance, by opening up Bric, an agency owner can see that a new employee has spent enough hours on a certain type of project and is ready to learn a new skill. Or, if a client calls in the morning and needs a project finished by the end of the week, an agency owner can quickly glance at Bric and to see who has free hours. No all-staff meetings required.

The ultimate purpose of running a business is for profit. The payroll-centered model jumps ahead of it’s goals, assuming the profit comes naturally. The data-centered model understands that there will be no consistent profit without a strategic planning process that engages each employee as an individual, intellectual, and creative person.

Technology Has Missed the Point.

Over the span of about seven years, I have worked in six different restaurants. Technology for time tracking in the food-service industry has changed in that time.

At sixteen when I started bussing tables, we used punch cards.  

At the next place, every employee had a code that they plugged into a prehistoric computer on the wall.

Then it was fingerprints.

Now everything is streamlined into one system that is a clock, register, and ordering form all in one. The efficiency gained is slight, however.  

Technologists missed the point. People hate tracking time, so technologists tried to make tracking time easier. They missed the point. Time tracking has never been hard; people hate it because of its purpose.

At Bric we think that time tracking needs a new purpose. Tracking time should be about planning work, not just invoicing clients and cutting payroll. No one cares about making their boss rich. But they do care about having meaningful work, and not being over/under worked.

Your timesheets contain valuable data that you can use to run your creativity agency. h

A Better Way.

Using data-centered time tracking your people will be excited to track time, timesheets will be more accurate, and you will have the data you need to optimize employee utilization and profits. 

1. Your people will be motivated.  Creative people were hired for their unique minds and artistic visions.  Their products are highly personal and intellectual.  When asked to keep track of their hours just so the owner can bill the client, the crafter will feel cheap.  There will be resistance. 

However, with data-centered time tracking employees are providing feedback to management. They are making sure that management knows how much they are working, and how long projects are taking. Employees will be excited to provide this data, because it helps management maximize their creativity.

2. Timesheets will be more accurate. With a payroll-centered time tracking model there are incentives for employees to distort time. This may be from resistance, lack of care, or embarrassment over how long a project took. Also, managers often scrub hours so that invoices are closer to estimates. There are times that invoices need to be adjusted, but timesheet data should not be lost in the process.

With a data-centered model employees are incentivized to be truthful. If something took longer than expected employees will want managers to know about this so that more time can be budgeted next time.

3. You will plan with confidence. Your timesheets contain valuable data. Data that can teach you about your agency: keep track of the work being done, learn how long projects take, and identify potential issues quickly. Learning this allows you to plan with confidence. You will be able to maximize capacity without overworking your people. Creative people love being busy, but overworking them will kill motivation.

Bric makes it easy adopt data-center time tracking. Unlike a lot of time tracking applications, we weren’t started to invoice clients. There are a lot great systems to send invoices, Bric helps you people a great creative agency. Are you ready to GetBric