An increasingly competitive marketplace has saddled workers and managers alike with seemingly endless demands. Americans work more and take less vacation than anyone else. So when your agency asks you to use time tracking software, you might be reluctant. You’re already overworked, probably in dire need of a vacation, and working as efficiently as you can. Isn’t time tracking software just a way to micromanage you, while making your workday less efficient? Hardly — time tracking software offers real benefits, and may even end the frustrating cycle of micromanagement.
Here’s what you need to know.
Time Tracking Software Improves Project Management
There’s nothing more frustrating than missed project deadlines. For many businesses, missed deadlines are an epidemic that threaten to swallow the organization whole, lose clients, and wreck reputations. So what’s behind the endless missed deadlines? In many cases, it’s poor project management.
If you don’t know how long each task takes, how long each employee takes to perform various tasks, and whether other projects are likely to get in the way, you cannot accurately estimate deadlines for a project. Time tracking software takes care of this problem for you, logging data on exactly how much time your organization spends on every leg of a project.
Want to know how a project is progressing, so that you can address delays before they get out of control? Time tracking software helps with that, too. Neatly tracking every step of a project helps you better predict timelines and intervene when a project gets out of control.
Time Tracking Software Rewards Efficiency, Not Busy Work
You might be concerned that using time tracking software means every member of your agency will be expected to spend every second on work — even if it’s just busy work. Not so. Time tracking software explores time management strategies that actually work.
That means employees who are efficient — even if they take frequent breaks, even if they spend some time on social media, even if they take vacation time — are rewarded. Those who participate in endless time-wasting busy work are unmasked, allowing managers a full picture of what’s happening behind the computer screens of their organization.
Time Tracking Software Encourages Efficiency-Increasing Measures
Spending all day behind a computer isn’t necessarily the path to optimal efficiency. Research consistently shows that frequent breaks, vacation time, and socializing throughout the day can actually improve efficiency. Time tracking software helps your organization find the sweet spot between frequent breaks and excessive procrastination. That may actually help you and the rest of your team get the down time you need to think creatively and enjoy the work you do — two strategies that increase productivity.
Time Tracking Software Can Reduce Micromanagement
One of an employee’s biggest fears about time management software is that it will cause them to be ceaselessly micromanaged. That’s a valid fear, particularly given how demoralizing micromanagement can be.
Time tracking software actually helps to reduce micromanagement. How? By giving workers autonomy and managers the data they need for reassurance that their staff is actually productive. When a manager sees that a worker is getting things done, it’s hard to justify intruding to stand over their shoulder. After all, doing so will only subvert a productive process.
Time Tracking Software Reduces Burnout
Employees who have no autonomy quickly burnout. Overworked staff quickly grow overwhelmed, triggering feelings of frustration and under-appreciation. Time tracking software ensures staff only get the work they can complete, not an endless pile of unrealistic tasks. In so doing, it also rewards the employees who work the most efficiently. Both strategies are recipes for happier employees with a more balanced, less frustrated approach to work.
Time Tracking Software Supports Autonomy
Workers thrive when they control how they spend their time. Some staff prefer to come in late and work late. Others need to work from home to tend to sick children. Your agency can accommodate these requests if you use time tracking software. Time trackers support autonomy by encouraging efficiency.
Rather than demanding busywork or requiring employees to be physically present, you can begin focusing on completion of specific tasks. And completion of work — rather than just being physically present — is, after all, what effective employees do.
Time Tracking Software Can Promote Greater Collaboration
Good time tracking programs shouldn’t be tools for spying on employees. Instead, they promote more collaboration by offering data you can use to keep your team informed. Subtle patterns about how your staff manages their time may begin to emerge. Sharing this information with your team helps them focus on the big picture, empowering them to collaborate rather than just complete to-do lists.
Time Tracking Software Supports Effective Management
Managers sometimes feel like drill sergeants, standing over employees and forcing them to do their work. This management style doesn’t work, but it can be hard to let go of the desire to control your staff. Time tracking software offers a push in the right direction. By clearly noting which approaches get the best results, time management software helps managers sharpen their focus and hone in on more effective management strategies.
Time Tracking Software Offers Objective Performance Feedback
It’s easy to be blinded by your affection for various employees, to be taken in by a gregarious staff member’s self-promotion, or to buy into an underlying hype about their endless busyness. Time tracking software provides objective measures of efficiency. You might be surprised to learn that the quiet employee who never brags is actually the most effective member of your staff. All staff members should be invested in objective measures, since these measures remove bias and allow people’s work to speak for itself.
Time Tracking Software Helps Organizations Plan Their Obligations
Do you find that your agency always either has more work than it can possibly do, or too little work to turn a profit? You’re not alone. While getting new clients is of course key, knowing your precise bandwidth is even more important. Over-schedule yourself and you’ll end up with disappointed clients and missed deadlines. Overestimate the time necessary to complete a project and you’ll miss out on money you could have made.
Time tracking software provides key analytics about the time you’ll need to complete every project. Over time, as patterns emerge and you adapt to vital information, you’ll be able to plan your projects down to the minute. Time is money. Budget it well.