Seemingly Small Time Tracking Problems Can Lead to Massive Talent Problems
A lot of business owners we meet are using typical time tracking practices, like paper or spreadsheet-based timesheets for recording hours. After all, that’s what they’ve always used.
When they talk to us, these business owners have usually already identified that they’re wasting time tracking down missing timesheets and rekeying entries, but they rarely identify another, more insidious issue.
Chances are, your company also suffers from this issue. To find out, see if this sounds familiar.
The Mysterious People Problem
Do you have trouble hanging on to some of your most go-getter staff members? You know the ones we’re talking about, they’re the people who come on board with incredible enthusiasm and great ideas, who are excited to help drive the company forward. They’re great at what they do and clients love their work… but, over time, something happens.
These previously highly engaged consultants gradually seem to lose interest in the company, are always exhausted and increasingly quiet, and they can no longer find the time to help and motivate their fellow coworkers.
Of course, you ask them what’s wrong and try to find a way to help them, but the no-longer-rock-star consultant simply states that they’re fine (or “slightly stressed” at the most).
Since they’re still completing their work on time, you leave them alone, but certain tasks have started to fall through the cracks with them and some clients have started to question your company’s quality. Eventually, the consultant quits, offering no real reason why, and you’re stuck trying to find a new consultant and wondering what went wrong.
Worst of all, this isn’t the first time this has happened at your firm – and you certainly don’t want it to happen ever again.
Perhaps your time tracking practices may be at fault.
The Issue with Rock-Star Consultants and Traditional Time Tracking Practices
If your company is tracking time using traditional, manual methods like 38% of companies are, that leaves the time tracking power in the consultants’ hands. You know you’ve hired good people, so you’re not worried about time theft… but what if the opposite is occurring?
Many rock-star employees / consultants are conscientious professionals who stick to their estimates and push themselves to meet deadlines, no matter what. These people are great to have working for you because you can trust that when they say something will be complete, it will be.
Unfortunately, these are also the folks with such extreme feelings of responsibility toward their work that they willingly sacrifice their own time in order to complete a project on budget and on deadline. This means they’re staying up late, waking up early, and spending untold additional hours troubleshooting project issues – but they don’t count any of that extra time on their timesheet because they feel beholden to the schedule and the project estimate.
In the short term, this can seem like a reasonable behavior (it’s not), but over the long term, as the consultant continues to silently work long, unpaid hours, they inevitably start to feel resentful of the work, the project, the company, the client, and even you.
When the same problem begins to show up in a new project, the consultant gets fed up and quits, feeling like a failure.
The whole problem could have been avoided with better time tracking practices.
Evolving Your Time Tracking Practices and Billing Options to Lower Turnover
As they’re going through this depressing downward spiral, your rock-star consultants don’t realize that “sticking to the estimate” isn’t solely their responsibility. It’s also the Project Manager’s responsibility (that may be you).
Project management is a complex task that requires taking a good, hard look at the project’s budgets to actuals, progress and backlog, and resource utilization to keep everything on track or to present revised estimates to clients if the projects are running over budget. Even if estimate revisions aren’t possible, PMs can use historical data to quote more realistic estimates and timelines going forward.
However, none of that project management work can happen if employees are fudging their timesheets to make it look like they’re meeting estimates when they aren’t.
Over time, the problem only gets worse because consultants increasingly feel overwhelmed, which makes them fall further behind and lose more hours, yet their Project Managers keep quoting the same timelines and estimates for new projects because the numbers they’re referencing are inaccurate.
In the end, this becomes a lose-lose proposition: your company misses out on a great employee and must spend time and resources hiring someone new, and the great employee feels frustrated and upset. They may even run into the same problems again in their next job and leave the industry entirely.
So, let’s talk about a solution.
Fast, Accurate Time Capture May Be the Solution
According to a PollFish survey from 2017, 58% of companies that use manual time tracking practices collect timesheets only 2-4 times per month. This infrequent time capture leads to a few problems:
- Employees / consultants often don’t track their hours in real time, they simply “guesstimate” at the end of the period
- Time tracking hours can be adjusted over time to compensate for unforeseen setbacks
- Employees / consultants are tempted to perform their own project management oversight to “neaten” the numbers
Again, all of this could easily lead to time fraud, but since you hire stellar workers, it may be leading to the opposite in your case, in which employees round their time down. We’ll call that “time shorting.”
By making a simple change in your time tracking practices and requiring that employees submit time daily, your numbers will be more accurate and employees won’t be tempted to “time short” themselves to meet their own expectations. (In fact, this practice can also increase profits by up to $52,000 annually per employee, according to a 2014 study by AffinityLive.)
Let’s be honest here though. For most business leaders or payroll personnel, daily time tracking sounds like a nightmare. That’s a lot of timesheets to collect, monitor, and key in!
Fortunately, the process doesn’t have to be a nightmare. In fact, changing your time tracking practices can be quite easy and can save you time.
How to Change Your Time Tracking in Sage 100 / Sage 100cloud
If you’re running a Sage 100 / Sage 100cloud system at your professional services firm, updating your time tracking practices can be quick and easy.
Using Timekeeper, a part of the Time and Billing Solutions suite from SWK Technologies, companies can quickly install a new time tracking tool that works on desktop or on the go, online or offline, and even works as a standalone option that your employees can use to enter time into Sage 100 without directly accessing your Sage system.
Timekeeper’s paperless solution makes it a breeze for your employees to enter their time as it’s completed, and also gives you instant access to the numbers on their hourly productivity and work.
When combined with other tools in the Time and Billing Solutions suite (Time and Billing Professional and Time and Billing Intelligence), Timekeeper serves as the anchor to your overall practice of faster and more flexible project billing; easier project reporting; and better project management using in-depth, customized dashboards, drilldowns, and reports that keep you on top of your KPIs and resource utilization metrics at all times.
Don’t Let the Problems Continue – Get the Time and Billing Solutions
With Timekeeper’s up-to-date and more accurate time tracking tool for Sage 100 / Sage 100cloud, combined with the rest of the Time and Billing Solution suite, you’ll have the power to identify and address productivity issues quickly and decisively for all your consultants, including your rock stars.
With accurate billing, your rock-star employees won’t feel like they’re forced to cheat themselves out of well-earned cash, and you’ll be able to craft more reliable, reasonable estimates that keep your clients satisfied and your employees happy. This can save you time on hiring and can even help you hang on to those high-achieving consultants for years to come, making your business one of the strongest in your industry.
Of course, all that is years in the future – but it’s a pretty good future that may someday become reality. You’ll never know until you take the first step: updating your time tracking practices.
Learn more about Timekeeper and the rest of the Time and Billing Solutions suite when you contact us.