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To most of those who have worked in a consulting or support service environment, maintaining a daily timesheet is just a normal part of work practice. To many of those who have never worked in a consulting or support service environment, the idea to tracking the daily activities seems totally unacceptable. As we develop more flexible work systems based on remote work, time management becomes even more critical to any industry.

Essentially time management recognises the reality of most work environments – there is a scarcity of resources and allocation of resources depends on a careful prioritisation of projects and the activities and tasks needed for completion. Time management is not about tracking punch clock records. It seeks to track the amount of time dedicated to each activity by the different members of staff related to the different projects. On the basis of this objective data, management can analyse work practices to ensure that right people within the team are spending the appropriate amount for time on the right activities for completion of a particular project.

Such an analysis typically begins with the definition of internal and client or billable  projects. It calls for prioritisation of resources between the internal and client or billable projects, to ensure that completion dates are honoured. Many sectors prioritise client billable projects, with many performance bonuses linked to the amount of billable hours achieved. Such incentives need to take into account the effectiveness of the hours allocated and the time management system provides the framework for the on-going analysis of the effectiveness of staff at all levels of the organisation. It provides particular insights into many of the hidden costs of managing an organisation as it identifies the considerable amount of time often dedicated to internal activities. This time needs to be correlated to the outcomes obtained, providing management with important data to use in improving internal communications processes and systems.

Completion of projects involves effective implementation of activities and tasks and these need to be defined. The level of detail of analysis depends on the nature of the organisation and the level of accuracy of the analysis required. A key objective in setting up a time management system is to avoid unnecessary complications – keep is simple! That is often the major challenge. Time management systems need to be implemented carefully to avoid any unnecessary duplication of effort, or creation of additional bureaucracy. Time management systems need to be employee focused allowing for data entry in the most convenient manner, be it via PC, tablet or smart phone. Balancing the amount of detail of the information to be collected and the ease and convenience of data collection requires a sound understanding of the business operations and a flexible time management solution to meet particular data capture needs.

Once this detailed time records are available, these can be combined with management accounting information such as the hourly cost of resources, not only HR but also any key resources that are used in the completion of a project or assignment. In this way, the time management system provides vital input into the internal costings system which can by inputting key project times get more accurate measures of the real costs of service provision. Linking this up to the billing then allows for yield management analysis to be carried out. This will provide management with more accurate data in terms of the contribution or profitability of the various projects.

The implementation of a time management solution is a means to an end and not an end in itself. It is there to assist management in determining how best to deploy resources within the organisation towards the completion of the various internal and client related projects. This is not a one-off activity, but calls for an on-going analysis of operational data which should be used as the basis for company-wide review and discussion of internal systems and business processes.

For more information on the time management solution, eB-ISP (Integrated Systems Platform) provided by eBusiness Systems, contact info@ebizmalta.com