Why bother tracking time?

One of the tried and tested truisms in management is that, “if you cannot measure it, then you cannot improve it”. In other words, the fundamental process to improved organisational performance must be based on measurement. Management decisions need to be based on facts, not opinions or guesswork. In addition, the level of detail in the measurement process must be related to the value involved. In other words, one does not spend Eur10 to track a Eur1 event. The cost of control needs to be managed to ensure that there is sufficient detail in the measurement process, without going to the added cost and hassle of getting additional detail that does not add value.

Time tracking is an essential part of time management and, if well planned and implemented, this adds tangible value to any organisation, whatever sector it may be involved in as it ensures that In any service industry, management needs to understand the service delivery process, specifically, who needs to dedicate what time in what sequence to deliver as planned.

Time management more than the installation of punch clocks to track every minute of overtime or time not worked.   Indeed, time management is far more than just attention to proper record keeping. The basis of a modern time management system is first and foremost an IT infrastructure that allows staff to keep track of how they spend their time at work. They should be able to update the system via their smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC wherever they are. The whole purpose of this tracking should be to enable management to easily track what activities take up who’s time within the organisation.

EB-TMS, the time management system offered by E-Business Systems is based on the company’s years of experience in the use of time management systems and the customised development of such systems for a diverse clientele. EB-TMS is ideal for SMEs, or even SME clusters, as it allows members of staff to have one main employer and allocate time spent on activities of different associated or affiliated companies. EB-TMS thus starts off with a definition of the main employer organisation and its associated or affiliated companies. It then allows for a listing of projects or product lines within these organisations, these may be Project Alpha, or Widget Product line, Beta service etc.

EB-TMS then allows for the definition of client firms, and for projects within such firms. It then allows for the definition of tasks within each of the companies and projects. These could be Client meetings, Product Development, Market Research, Credit Control etc. The challenge at this stage is to define tasks that reflect the actual work being carried out. The system typically calls for allocation of time in 15 minute or 30 minute bundles. Its not about catching the exact time of the service or task implementation. The key objective is to track the relative allocation of time to the different companies, projects and tasks by the different members of staff. In this way, staff need to account for their work in 15 or 30 minute slots and charge these slots to the particular company or client, confirming whether this was billable or not, with the option to annotate any time that is charged to clients but is deemed to be non-billable time.

To further enhance the reporting capabilities of the system, EB-IMS allows for the uploading of personal hourly cost and charge-out rates. This allows for the generation of proforma invoices or fee notes tracking time, client, project, task and relevant notes to the required billing period.

EB-TMS provides a user friendly charting and reporting engine which allows authorised users to produce on-the-fly charts to illustrate the results of queries. These could show the percentage time that is chargeable to a client but is not billable for whatever the reason. Reports can be produced to summarise all time allocated by all members of staff to a particular company, client, project or task, or the reports can focus on such an analysis on an individual basis.

EB-TMS is provided on a software-as-service basis, hosted on EBS servers with full back-up and business continuity measures in place. As a web-based system it is available to authorised users 24 x 7 from any location with internet connectivity and external access can further be protected with a two-factor authentication. This will require authorised users to register their cell phone number and this number will be automatically contacted with a security code whenever that user seeks access to the system from outside the company’s Local Area Network.

There is a cost to time management. There is the cost of staff uploading the details of their time allocations. There is the cost of management analysing and using the data. All this is set off with the benefit of knowing how time is being spent and being able to monitor and improve its allocation. It serves as a powerful tool to ensure that each task is being carried out by the appropriate person. This helps to reduce the chance of having senior personnel spend time on activities which their subordinates could do or which is not billable.

EB-IMS is a time management that helps clients improve their billing process, ensuring that all time is tracked and billable time is charged for appropriately. Inevitably is forces management to question the time being spent by staff on unproductive activities or time that is allocated needlessly to overhead administration. This increases the time for billable activities and this increases profitability.