“We don’t track time.” This is the stance some organisations still take towards managing their business. Particularly creative communication professionals who can’t stand the idea of having to structure their day or review their work. I can empathise with how legacy time-tracking tools, accompanied by fleeting guidance and complicated procedures, became the plaguing task that no one wants on their to-do list. But that’s a thing of the past. With dynamic billing rates, employee resource planning, and hundreds of integrations, time tracking has become the most powerful tool to improve agency operations.
With the new year kicking off, it’s an ideal time to begin tracking employee hours. Because time tracking is not simply a record of your day, it’s a lens into how effectively you run your business. It’s about understanding employee and team performance, and leveraging this data to ensure your billing rates, retainers, proposals, and budgets are the best they can be.
Surely, your agency measures the ROI of its campaigns. Clients demand to know how many hits, impressions, placements, etc. you create on their behalf. Time tracking allows you to see what it cost your business to do so. And it offers deep insights into how to continually reduce costs and increase revenue.
Here are three additional reasons why, as a communications professional, you need to place time-tracking higher on your list of priorities.
1. Time tracking will help you break bad multitasking habits
As your day progresses, priorities will change and your schedule will shift, making it more challenging to keep a record of what you’re doing. It’s in these situations that the wise words of Stephen Covey, Author of ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ come to mind, “The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
A particular fear that previous clients have shared is the sinking feeling of reviewing your timesheet at the end of the day to not see the productivity they had hoped for, and nine times out of ten this will be because few tasks were given the attention they needed to see progress.
Dedicate your attention to one task at a time and it will be easier to track your activities, in addition to getting more done.
2. Time tracking helps you improve how you work
Bureaucracy is a no man’s land for most creative professionals. So, the idea of having your activities reviewed by your manager may feel somewhat hostile, but time-tracking doesn’t have to be seen as a bureaucratic task.
Think of time-tracking tools as your guide to assessing the obstacles posed by your creative challenges. Keeping a log of your activities gives the opportunity to review which processes are working, and how you can optimise your time to achieve more successful results — in addition to facts you can use to justify your efforts to your manager.
3. Time tracking unlocks powerful data about agency performance.
What is your team’s utilisation rate? Do you have the capacity to take on additional clients? If not, should you hire a temporary or full-time employee? How long should a project take? Which industries are the most profitable for your firm?
By tracking time, the answers to these key operational questions become apparent.
Beyond the data itself, the act of recording your time offers much-needed visibility to your clients. A recent study conducted by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) overwhelmingly suggests that the data developed through activities such as time-tracking helps to build trust with clients and encourages both parties to focus on outcomes. Over 90 per cent of interviewees also agreed that generating data improved agency efficiencies.
No matter what your 2017 goals are for your business — better processes, reduced costs, improved forecasting and budgeting, or knowing who and when — to hire, there’s no better place to start than with tracking time.
David Klein is the Director of Marketing at ClickTime, the award-winning time and expense management application empowering thousands of agencies to improve operations, increase profitability, and improve project visibility.