Back in the early 1990’s when I was just starting out as a Software Engineer for IBM, I was actually coming up with a lot more than just finished codes and completed projects for a global corporation; I was coming up with what was to be the foundation for my future company.
The biggest problem I noticed during my time at IBM was a lack of insight into project costs from the higher-ups, and how that affected our time spent on each major project.
That initial wince at what was (at that point in time, anyway) a business processes hurdle has since then been shaped into a simple snag with an easy fix.
Since then, time tracking software has become an important part of modern business today, streamlining costs, improving efficiency and reducing paperwork.
To truly reap the maximum benefit from time tracking software, it’s absolutely imperative to choose carefully when deciding what system to go with.
What factors should play into your decision?
What key elements should you look for?
One of the most basic things to look for when evaluating a time tracking package is how well it integrates with your existing software and services.
Do you use Microsoft Dynamics?
Do you rely on Intuit QuickBooks, Oracle Financials or Peachtree accounting software?
Whatever software your company depends on, it’s important to make sure a time tracking package integrates with it. Otherwise, you may find yourself doing double-entry and wasting more time than you save.
Another important factor is automation.
When evaluating a given package, how much does it actually automate the process of tracking time?
Dawn Berry, a time management consultant, makes the case that it can cost a business with 100 employees up to $5,200 a year to manually process payroll on a biweekly basis.
Go to weekly payroll and that figure jumps to $10,400–and that’s if everything goes smoothly.
Add in the occasional human error, time spent tracking down employees over incorrect timecards or any of the other normal issues that occurs with manual payroll and the cost increases accordingly.
This well illustrates the need to choose a package that automates as much of the process as possible.
It’s no wonder that the American Payroll Association estimates there is as much as an 80 percent reduction in payroll processing costs associated with an automated system.
What works brilliantly for your company today may not work at all tomorrow.
Particularly as we start planning ahead for 2015, it’s important to note that needs change, advances come along and businesses absolutely must adapt to survive.
It’s critical to choose a time tracking solution that has the flexibility to adapt with you, not the other way around.
Thinking of integrating cloud-based software and services in your business in the near future?
If so, then why restrict yourself to a setup that is designed solely for a local installation?
Thinking of switching from Oracle to SAP?
If so, it’s important to choose a package that can make the transition with you.
Choosing a time tracking setup can be a significant investment, in both time and money.
It’s important to choose one that won’t become obsolete the minute you change some other aspect of your business operation.
If the solutions you’re looking into don’t integrate well with your current systems or require a third party to do so, it would be wise to look elsewhere.
Data collection and reporting is one of the single most important advantages that time tracking software brings to the table.
The ability to collect data on where your employees are spending their time, what projects really cost and what customers are generating the most revenue are just a few of the critical data points that proper software can help you track.
“By implementing the right time tracking software, your business should be in a position to thrive,” writes Nick Mann for BusinessBee.
“Scheduling and tracking daily tasks can be done with minimal frustration.
Information can be shared across different departments to prevent mishaps.
Also, inefficient tendencies can be caught and adjusted before they become major problems.
In time, your company should become more productive and profitable.”
Even so, sometimes it’s nearly impossible to get your employees to track their time in the first place, making data reporting a minefield of problems.
Employees may see it as unnecessary or just simply can’t seem to adapt it to their daily routines.
Consider what JWT Brazil did to encourage their employees to submit their timesheets on time: they implemented a beer fridge that only opened on the Friday after a timesheet submission deadline and only when every single employee had submitted their sheet with zero errors.
When it worked, it was an automatic party for the whole office. Data reporting for them was suddenly no longer an issue – so long as everyone pitched in.
Integration, automation, flexibility and proper reporting are just a few of the factors to consider when evaluating possible time tracking software, but they are four of the most critical ones.
Take the necessary time to evaluate what your business needs not just today, but one, three and five years down the road.
Choose a solution that meets those needs and helps your business as it adapts to changing conditions.
Time tracking software is an important part of modern business, but not all software is created equal.
By taking the time to choose carefully, you can save your business both time and money.
Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx. Journyx is not your average software company. We strive to be relentlessly creative and to build tools that help you spend your time on things that matter. After all, time is all we have.