Time tracking helps agencies improve their project management, budget, and resource allocation. But no one likes having a beady-eyed manager looking over their shoulder — even if it’s a digital one.
Most of us have had to deal with a nitpicky micromanager at some point creating some management trauma. I know you don’t want to turn into that person and inflict that on your own team’s morale. But you need a way to keep track of your resources and budgets.
Enter time tracking.
UGH, I know.
But I promise – this is a good thing.
It’s a great tool, but only when implemented the right way, which we’ll get into here in a second.
First though, a few important points.
If you implement time tracking protocols and software with a hammy fist, your employees might feel the same way you did once — spied on, controlled, and micromanaged.
But what if I told you that specific brand of paranoia isn’t justified?
That is if you can effectively communicate with your team on the importance of time tracking. And why it’s a good thing — for them.
Let’s dive into how your business and your team benefit from time tracking. We’ll also show you the top time tracking tools to use to get a better grip on your resources and budgets.
Time Tracking, Project Management, and the Pareto Principle
You’ve probably heard of it — the Pareto Principle, one of my favorite principles, AKA the 80/20 rule.
Applied to agencies, the Pareto Principle states that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients. Or a specific type of work.
Do you know who those clients and projects are?
If you do, you can refocus your agency goals to maximize the most profitable clients or projects and improve your budget management.
“But Juliana, what’s time tracking got to do with all that?”
Every hour you track is another hour that can be billed. When running fixed-priced contracts, you can identify the 20% that brings the most profits to the yard.
You can weed out the types of projects and clients stretching your resources without doing much for your profit margins.
Time tracking is a tool that can help scale your agency since you won’t be wasting time frying the small fish.
Client management got you down? Your client onboarding probably needs some adjustments. It’s not too hard to do with our free client onboarding toolkit.
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How does time tracking help your team members?
Scope creep can bury itself into your budgets, timelines, and also stress your employees. But in a lot of cases, workloads increase in such small increments, you might not notice.
That is until you’re up at 3 AM stressing out about a project and not knowing how the heck it got so out of control.
Implementing time tracking can help you identify when a workload is starting to get too big for its britches.
But when employees hear “time tracking,” they often feel like Big Brother’s about to start spying on them.
Tips for getting employee buy-in
PMs, clearly communicate the point of time tracking to your team:
- We’re protecting our bandwidth so you don’t burnout
- We’re using time tracking to see what’s getting accomplished and when
- Time tracking will reduce micromanaging because it increases transparency
On that last point, time tracking gives PMs the ability to supervise more efficiently.
They won’t have the chance to nitpick or directly observe every single detail of the employee’s work process. With time tracking, project managers get a clearer picture of someone’s performance at a cursory glance.
Time tracking can also increase accountability across teams.
If you’ve noticed a pattern of deliverables repeatedly missing deadlines, or certain team members taking on a huge workload, you might have an accountability issue somewhere.
With time tracking, you can see where someone or a certain department might be slacking. Let your team know that time tracking can help with this issue and lighten their loads.
When implementing time tracking, be clear about how you’ll do it, the data you’ll see, and how you’ll use it.
Being upfront will go a long way toward building trust and getting buy-in from your team. So, manage expectations well in advance of implementation.
Top Time Tracking Tools for Agencies
Make your life easier. When choosing a time tracking tool, get one with the following features:
- Budget tracking
- Freelancer tracking
- Project management integration
What about the price? If you capture just two hours a month, most time tracking software will pay for itself. We like these two:
Harvest is $10 per month for each user and is one of the most popular time tracking tools on the market. It’s got all the important stuff you need:
- Budget tracking
- Built-in invoicing features
- Ability to assign roles so that freelancers and part-timers can time track
- Offers integrations with Asana, GitHub, and Jira
Toggl paid plans are a little more expensive than Harvest — ranging from $10 to $59 a user per month. But it’s got a lower barrier to entry and is easier to set up.
No need to set up tags, tasks, or projects. Just hit a timer, and you’re off to the races.
- Budget tracking
- Invoicing abilities
- Freelancers can track their time
- Integrations work through Chrome Extension
- Great for small teams as it offers a free plan for up to five users
Your Next Steps for Time Tracking
Communicating with your team is the most important step in the process. Remember that.
- Figure out how you’re going to time track
- Be transparent about how you’ll use the data
- Openly discuss your plans and goals
- Let your team know how time tracking is going to benefit them
Anytime you add something new to your team member’s workflow, building trust is key to getting buy-in.
Have you wanted to use time tracking software to help scale your agency? What’s causing you to hold back? Let us know in the comments.