The notion of time tracking is not always well-received. For employees, it can create a sense of being watched and not trusted by management. Employers can see it as too rigid and a process that could crush the creativity of their team.
However, approached in the right way, time tracking can provide crucial insights into your business. Are you making the money you think on each project, or are you burning through cash faster than you anticipated? Are your teams hitting deadlines? If not, why not?
Like many sectors, law entails working with multiple clients at the same time, meaning that employees constantly swap from project to project throughout their day. Without time tracking, it’s very hard to know for sure how efficiently your law firm is operating.
Benefits for business
The key benefit of time tracking for a business is efficiency. Only knowing roughly how long tasks take leaves a large margin for inaccuracy, which can result in a loss in profits. If a 40-hour project takes 10% more time, you are losing half a day’s worth of fees. If that continues through the year, it can have a big impact on the profitability of your business. With time tracking, estimating how long a project will take can be more of a science, as you can look back over past projects and have the facts and figures in front of you.
Although all benefits tie back into efficiency, there are many other advantages of time tracking:
- Seeing how and when your team works best. Managers can then plan for this.
- Noticing if an employee is struggling with their workload. By finding out why, the problem could be easily solved.
- Making it clear when it’s time to take on a new hire.
- Providing evidence in case of a dispute over time spent.
- Streamlining process, rearranging tasks, and assigning projects.
By establishing all of this, law firms can make the necessary adjustments and move forward in a more effective way, improving business, morale, and profits.
Benefits for employees
Nobody likes to be micromanaged. That’s sadly the stigma that comes with time tracking. However, if management takes the time to educate their team well about the aims and benefits of tracking time, it should be seen as a tool that can work in their favour. Here’s how:
- Boosts morale – If used correctly and fairly, employees will feel the benefit of being recognised and potentially rewarded if they have put in extra hours.
- Highlights frustrating elements of daily work – Often, it’s the employees who know that too much time is being spent in a certain area of the business. Officially tracking time gives proof and data for management to see and act on.
- Focuses the mind – When dealing with multiple projects, the risk is to swap and change between several throughout the day. In actual fact, getting into deep work on one project at a time can prove more efficient, meaning that employees get through their workload quicker and feel more satisfied.
- Better time allocation – Employees will know how much time they are spending on each task, whether they are running behind, and how they can better allow their time to be more productive.
- Avoids incorrect blame – If a project runs late, time-tracking data can shift the blame away from the person responsible for it. Perhaps the estimates weren’t correct, or perhaps one element has taken longer. Again, when recorded in black and white, there’s less room for taking the blame when you’ve been working flat out trying to keep things on track.
Revelations and improvements
So, what are some of the revelations that time tracking can provide, and what improvements can be put in place?
- Too much time spent on the phone to clients
- Create a knowledge base online to answer key questions
- Too much time spent typing out reports
- Find a technological solution that will do it in a fraction of the time
- All projects are taking longer than expected
- Either adjust practices to speed up the process or increase prices to account for the extra time spent
- One team member not performing as well as expected
- Investigate why this is. Are they demotivated, overworked, or dealing with personal problems? This allows you to show you are willing to help your team and invest in them where appropriate.
The best time-tracking solutions
Traditionally, time was tracked using time-consuming and impractical methods. With employees working from various locations and often on the move, a cloud-based time-tracking solution offers the best solution, enabling employees to quickly enter the time wherever they are.
DPS Software’s time-tracking app iTime offers exactly this, helping great managers to understand their teams and plan for a more efficient workforce. For more information, get in touch with our friendly team today.