What If Companies Managed Time as Carefully as They Manage Money?
Every company measures money in detail, but how much do we track and value time? Untracked work hours are costing businesses billions of dollars per day. In this 5-minute read, you’ll find out why time is an even more valuable asset than money – and how to make every minute count.
Financial capital is relatively abundant and cheap. The after-tax cost of borrowing money is at or near inflation for many companies, making the cost of borrowing close to zero. At the same time, money is the most carefully managed asset of every company. Executives spend a lot of time and effort in managing the balance sheet, despite the fact that it doesn’t represent their company’s scarcest resource – time. Why? In part, it’s because we value and reward proper management of financial capital. And we measure it. But today’s great CEOs need to be equally great at measuring, managing and allocating time.
Whether you are the president of a country, a customer service representative, a CEO of a company, or a freelancer, you must make daily choices on how to spend the hours afforded you. You can’t buy or borrow more, so time is a limited resource that expires every day. As a business owner, you have to be very careful with this precious resource.
In fact, time is much more valuable than money because you can use your time to make money, but you can’t use the money to purchase more time.
Time is a resource
Untracked work hours are costing the US economy 7.4 billion dollars per day. When every minute has real value, tracking employee hours can have a significant impact on your business.
Unlike other resources, such as talent, education, or money, we all have the same amount of time. It’s the only aspect of our lives where we are all truly equal.
“Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent more hours.” – Dr. Denis Waitley, psychologist
Show me the money
As the saying goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Time tracking offers real-time visibility into projects and surfaces key operational metrics that otherwise would remain hidden. It’s essential for budgeting, estimating, and compliance. It makes teams more productive and businesses more profitable.
When your team participates in tracking their time, you’ll be able to:
- surface key operational metrics that might otherwise remain hidden
- measure the actual costs of any project
- see data for future project costing/estimation
- stick to timeline or project budgets
- value work in process
- save money (time tracking is critical for preventing over-servicing)
- understand employee utilization and capacity – and allocate accordingly
- see insight into costs (now that they’re visible, perhaps you can go about lowering them)
Time tracking can mean the difference between an overworked, stressed-out team and a well-oiled project machine.
Getting everyone on board
For organizations that track time, there’s always going to be some resistance – or at least questions about it. Time tracking isn’t about keeping an eye on teams’ productivity as much as it is a smart business move.
Think about it: Time tracking yields data that is critical for monitoring business and employee performance. Timesheet data provides businesses with the ability to not only benchmark but even more importantly, to forecast. It surfaces project cost and profitability, employee availability, employee cost, and much more.
For employees, time tracking is important because it:
- gives insight into how much time is going into different tasks and projects
- yields data that can be used to ask for more resources, a raise, even a promotion
- fosters autonomy
- helps keep track of remote or freelance workers
- helps to stay in a productivity flow and limit interruptions
- empowers employees to use their own data for goal setting and decision-making
- provides data that can be used to reward employees who meet or exceed project deadlines, budgets, and goals
- keeps employees from being overscheduled and overworked – which improves engagement, boosts morale and increases productivity
So how do you get the commitment to a shared vision? Start by actually sharing your vision. Don’t just tell your team what they need to start doing, explain the reasons.
If you’ve invested some effort into sharing your vision with the team, make sure the solution you choose has the power to deliver on what you’ve promised. Ideally, it should work intuitively with the processes you already have in place, rather than taking too many additional steps.
If your team uses a project management software solution, choose a time-tracking tool that integrates well with what you have. If you’re not yet using a project management solution, choose one that has time tracking embedded in the system.
Selecting a solution
In the past, the only way that companies had to track time with any degree of efficiency was with a handwritten timesheet, or perhaps a punch card. These were par for the course for decades, but new technology has made it far easier to track time.
- Are you planning to bill for time?
When you’re billing for your time, it’s essential to capture each minute you work. When you’re billing per project rather than per minute worked, you just need to measure the time input.
- Is the software cloud-based and mobile?
Having the solution in the cloud and available on mobile makes it usable on the go and in any circumstance.
- Is it easy to learn and use?
Time tracking should be made as easy and hassle-free for the users as possible so that they don’t end up wasting extra time using the system.
- Does it integrate with other tools?
In order to get the most value out of your time tracking tool, it should definitely integrate with your project management or business solution. The perfect combination of tools offers a tracking solution with project management, billing, and reporting features. If you don’t want to spend time on integrating different tools, pick a more powerful solution which offers tracking, project management, billing, and reporting – all in one.
“Whether or not a team member is billing by the hour, it is important to understand that time is one of the most valuable (and scarce) resources at any organization. Operating under the assumption that your time is worth money – whether to you or to your client – helps you to prioritize the finite number of hours in your day.” – Brad Hoover, Grammarly CEO
It might seem like a topic that you can postpone and deal with later when you have more time. Wrong. There’s never enough time. See my point? Don’t waste any valuable minutes and get to it!