Project Time Tracking Software: Should You Invest In Tracking Apps For Your Remote Team?

Project Time Tracking Software: Should You Invest In Tracking Apps For Your Remote Team?
eLearningIndustry.com
Summary: Is project time tracking software a wise investment for your business? Let’s look at the basics and benefits to help you make the best buying decision.

Project Time Tracking Software Buying Guide For Beginners

The right project time tracking software can address a variety of business pain points. But is it the best choice for your remote work team? This epic article is aimed at helping you determine whether project time management software is worth YOUR investment. What are the essential functions and features? Can it help you address some of your most crucial pain points? What are some of the perks it can bring to your profit margin? I’ll answer all these questions and more so that you can avoid buyer’s regret and create a strong business case for project time management tools. First off, let’s review some of the essential functions every software buyer should consider.

Here's What You'll Find In This Ultimate Guide...

  1. What Is Project Time Management Software?: 6 Essential Functions
  2. Popular Project Hours Tracker Business Use Cases
  3. Should You Invest In Hour Keeping Software For Your Team?
  4. 8 Key Features Every Time Management App Should Deliver
  5. 6 Reasons To Use Hour Tracking Solutions For Project Management
  6. Which Business Pain Points Can Project Tracking Apps Help You Address?
eBook Release: Project Time Tracking Software: Should You Invest In Tracking Apps For Your Remote Team?
eBook Release
Project Time Tracking Software: Should You Invest In Tracking Apps For Your Remote Team?
How can time tracking software help you address your business pain points? We help you decide if hour keeping solutions are a sound investment for your organization!

1. What Is Project Time Management Software?: 6 Essential Functions

The most important decision-making factor is whether time tracking apps fill a need within your organization. Ultimately, it must be able to streamline work practices and boost team performance to warrant the investment. What are the primary functions and how does it fit into your business strategy? How does it differ from other software that you already own? So, let’s quickly recap the main roles that time tracking software play for telecommuting teams.

Monitor Project Tasks

One of the most crucial functions of project time tracking software is to track tasks and evaluate team workflow. For instance, you can see how long it took to perform each task and/or milestone, as well as upcoming assignments and which team members are involved in the project. This allows you to identify areas for improvement, such as tasks that take longer than expected. Then you can follow up to pinpoint the cause and offer your employees additional support/resources.

Track Employee Work Hours

Every time tracking system should include some form of attendance tracking. That way, you can see how often employees clock in, break frequency, and weekly work hours. For example, why did this staffer work overtime this week? Was it approved? Did it directly contribute to the project and your profit margin? A tie-in function is to monitor weekly or daily capacity for every employee.

Simplify Client Billing

Clients expect accurate invoices that they can pay promptly, without having to dispute charges or sign up for yet another payment site. Thus, another core function of project time tracking software is client billing. Some tools even feature payment integrations that allow you to pair it with trusted gateways, like PayPal. At the least, your new system should automatically generate invoices based on billable hours.

Manage Internal Resources

One of the main reasons why organizations invest in time tracking apps is to stretch available resources. They know who is working on what and for how long, as well as how much of that time is productive versus ideal. Thus, you’re able to manage human resources more effectively and improve ROI. You also avoid employee burnout because everybody knows their weekly capacity and has better oversight of the project tasks.

Evaluate Project Expenses

Many time tracking tools include expense trackers to help you stick to your budget, and your clients’, for that matter. You can see how much you allocate to each project and the amount clients have approved for every milestone. Not to mention, all of the additional expenses and overtime involved. For instance, maybe you need to adjust your fees to increase your profit margin.

Prioritize Project Profitability

Focus on projects that contribute to your bottom line versus those that only have a small impact on your profits. While every client is important, some contribute to your long-term success more than others. Project time tracking apps help you identify large-scale projects that bring in more revenue so that you can manage resources wisely. As an example, assign more team members to hit the deadline.

2. Popular Project Hours Tracker Business Use Cases

How do other organizations implement project time tracker software to achieve long-term success? While every business can benefit from these systems, there are a few popular use cases. For example, it doesn’t just help with in-house project organization. You can also use it to plan client projects and stick to their budgets. If your organization deals with any of the following, then time tracking apps should be on your radar.

Client Project Planning

You need to juggle multiple projects and keep track of billable hours. Or, maybe you’re working on large-scale projects that involve several milestones and team members. Time tracking apps with PM features let you plan ahead and improve client relations. Let’s say that you have 10 projects scheduled for this month. Time tracking apps allow you to see which employees are working on each project, in addition to the total budget, weekly hour capacity, and upcoming payment milestones.

Product Launches

Time tracking software is also ideal for product launches that don’t necessarily involve clients or billable hours. You can assign employees to handle different aspects of the task, from research and development to focus groups. This app gives you the chance to map everything out in advance so that you can budget accordingly as well. For instance, allocate this much to R&D and testing, then another chunk of your budget to the promotion and the launch event.

Marketing Campaigns

Another behind-the-scenes task that’s custom-tailored for time tracking tools is marketing. You can outline all the steps in your marketing campaign, associated tasks, and spending caps. The system helps you stick to your schedule so that you can deploy your strategy when the time is right. For example, host your webinar or publish another content marketing article a week before your site goes live.

Employee Performance Reviews

While project time tracking software typically doesn’t have personnel tracking features, you can use the data for performance evaluations since the app tracks work hours, breaks, time off, and so on. As an example, the employee has five absences this quarter and they’ve used up all their vacation time. During the performance review, you can discuss the issue with them and determine if there are any hidden challenges. Maybe they feel stressed because of their heavy workload or they’re dealing with a health problem that you need to account for when setting their weekly work capacity.

Team Workflows

Many time management systems feature a team workflow panel where employees can see all the steps involved. For instance, their current task is due by this day so that their co-worker can wrap up the next stage of the project. This also allows you to identify overlap, like tasks that three of your team members work on every day even though it’s really a one-person job.

Pricing And Estimates

You need to provide accurate estimates so that clients know how much funding is required. Just as you need to be able to price your product competitively while still making a good profit. Time tracking systems centralize information from past projects, which makes it easier to price your services and generate client estimates. For example, you know how much time it took to complete similar tasks and all the additional expenses involved.

Remote Sales Teams

Your remote sales team can use the tool to track client meetings, create invoices, and record billable hours. Many systems even feature attendance tools so they can request days off and set their own weekly capacity. For instance, this sales staffer can only work five hours on Wednesday because they have personal obligations. Or, they’ve already set aside three hours for paperwork and product knowledge training.

Software Development

Who’s in charge of backend programming and testing? How long does it take to modify the existing UI? Many software development companies use time tracking software to outline the process and avoid launch delays. You can also track related expenses and see if employees have room in their schedule to complete last-minute debugging tasks.

3. Should You Invest In Hour Keeping Software For Your Team?

That’s the million-dollar question, right? So, how do you determine if now’s the right time to purchase time tracking systems for your remote teams? After all, there’s only so much funding available, and every software purchase requires a thorough needs analysis. Here are some insider secrets to help you decide if project time trackers earn a spot in your current budget. You can also download our exclusive project time tracking software eBook for more top tips to invest wisely. 

Clarify Business Needs

The first step is to determine if you really need time tracking systems to achieve business objectives. Does it fill an existing gap? Is there room in the budget? The best approach is to identify your pain points and whether they can be addressed by project tracking software. For example, you frequently miss deadlines, which has a direct impact on client relations. The right app can keep your team on track and help them plan ahead so that they avoid potential delays. Later in this article, I’ll explore some of the most common challenges that these systems can help you overcome.

Evaluate Task Performance

Business operations can be chaotic especially if you have remote employees working on a variety of tasks and there’s no way to monitor their performance, like completion times and the makeup of their workday, in general. Time tracking software lets you break everything down into stats and figures. As an example, this team spends 25% of their day on this type of task. Then you can determine if it’s a productive use of their time or if you need to restructure roles and job duties. In short, you should consider project tracking management systems if you need more organization and oversight.

Assess Your Current Software Setup

Another factor to consider is your existing business toolbox. Which software do you already own and is there something missing? Namely, something that time tracking systems can provide. This also helps you find a tracking tool that’s compatible with your current software setup. As a result, you don’t have to worry about IT obstacles or replacement costs.

Get Employee Feedback

Ultimately, employees must use the tool every day to clock in and make the most of work timers. Therefore, you should get their feedback before making your final decision. Will a time tracking tool benefit them? If so, which features are they looking for? How will they use the software to improve productivity and boost efficiency? Conduct surveys, polls, and focus groups to gather their input.

Analyze Past Projects

Take a closer look at projects you’ve completed in the past. Were there any issues that a time tracking tool could help you avoid in the future? Again, you may have to ask employees for their insights. For instance, do they encounter similar challenges for every project? Why do they think the issue keeps occurring and will time tracking systems make a difference? Try to match their personal pain points with project time tracking software functions. Maybe, the hour timers can help with their lack of organization or procrastination.

4. 8 Key Features Every Time Management App Should Deliver

Once you’ve established that time tracking systems are a good fit for your telecommuting teams, it’s time to move on to the shopping list. What sets a top-notch tool apart from the rest? Which features should you look for to get the best value for money? While every system has its own selling points, your time tracking success hinges on these 8 essential features.

Project Overviews

Project dashboards give you a detailed breakdown of team members assigned, individual tasks, and completion times. For example, this milestone will be wrapped up next week. Many tools even feature progress bars so that you get a visual sense of the timeframe. Another tie-in feature to look for is billable hour trackers. You can quickly see how much time has been allocated to each project as well as the max capacity.

Employee Time Tracking

Project time tracking apps generally have a two-tiered system. The first is individual time tracking. You can monitor how much time an employee worked during the week and how they spent it. For instance, they worked 8.25 hours on Monday and 5.5 hours on Tuesday, and this is their overall capacity versus time used. The second level is project-based tracking. As an example, they worked for 21.5 hours on Project A and another 5 hours on Project B, the rest of their time was dedicated to paperwork, meetings, and financial forecasting.

Work Calendars

Many project time tracking software solutions feature work calendars at the individual and team level. Employees are able to see what’s coming up so that they can plan accordingly. This also gives them the chance to determine how their tasks and deadlines related to the overall project. For instance, they can’t push back their individual due date because there’s no wiggle room in the delivery schedule. All the tasks happen in quick succession, so they should move their schedule around to give this project top priority.

Invoicing

You need to invoice clients rapidly and efficiently. More importantly, everything must be accurate to improve customer relations. Thus, you should look for time tracking tools with client billing features. The system automatically tabulates billable hours for the project within a given period then compiles all the data into an invoice that features your branding. You should also be able to customize the invoice, such as add fields and different headers.

Expense Management

Organizations need to know what’s coming in and going out to improve profit margins. For this reason, many project time tracking apps have expense management tools built in. As an example, you’re able to monitor how much you spent on each project, including billable hours, additional resources, and outsourced tasks, then weigh all those internal costs against project revenue. This is also a handy feature for external partners who want to monitor their out-of-pocket expenses for reimbursement.

Customizable Reports

Analytics is another crucial selling point to consider. Preferably, customizable reports that help you track relevant KPIs and improve ROI. Most tools include data visualizations as well. For instance, charts and graphs help you track team or individual work hours and project expenses. Some tools even have pie charts to determine how much of the workday is spent on productive versus idle time.

Integrations

Integrations vary based on the project management tool. However, many apps offer accounting and payment gateway add-ons. This allows you to pair the system with your go-to platforms and streamline processes. For example, you can automatically update your books when a client pays so that you don’t accidentally send them a late notice. Ask the vendor about integrations and software compatibility up front.

Vendor Support

Support is another feature that depends on the tool. While some vendors offer phone and email assistance, others are limited to online FAQs and tutorials. Every vendor should provide a knowledge base that helps you troubleshoot common issues. For instance, demo videos that show you how to set up a new account and add users. These are also valuable when it’s time to train your team on how to use the new system, as you don’t have to develop additional support resources internally.

5. 6 Reasons To Use Hour Tracking Solutions For Project Management

To make a winning business case, you need to know WHY you’re implementing project time trackers in the first place. How does the software help you maximize internal resources and boost employee accountability? Like any business operations tool, the benefits greatly depend on your needs and expectations. However, there are a few rewards that every organization can reap from time tracking apps.

Improve Client Relations

Clients expect certain things from your organization beyond great customer service of course. One of these "bare minimum" obligations is to simplify the payment process. They shouldn’t have to run through a virtual obstacle course to take care of invoices. Nor should they have to dispute every invoice because it includes miscalculations or unexpected fees. Time tracking software helps you improve client relations and build brand loyalty. For instance, invoices are always spot-on because the software tracks and reports billable hours. However, your team can also review automatically generated invoices to make sure everything is included, like additional expenses and other fee-based services.

Centralize Project Management

One of the most challenging aspects of managing projects is organization especially if there are multiple people, tasks, and resources involved. On top of that, you may be working on several projects at once. Time tracking systems let you centralize all that info in one convenient location. You can use a single tool to monitor billable hours, team performance, and project budgets. This includes evaluation data that allows you to increase your profit margins and reduce spending.

Stretch Available Resources

Another prime reason to invest in project management tracking software is to make the most of what you’ve got. These tools help you stretch available resources because you have detailed oversight of EVERY aspect of the project, from team member’s roles and work hours to upcoming tasks. As such, you’re able to prioritize assignments and identify areas for improvement. For example, you notice that employees spend a large portion of their day on paperwork. Is there a way to digitize their process and make it more efficient so they can focus on other work responsibilities? Thus, in many ways, time tracking software is a diagnostic tool that highlights business pain points.

Fine-Tune Product Pricing

You may have had roughly the same service fees or product pricing for years without even realizing that your profit margin was shrinking. Or, maybe you’ve just launched your business and aren’t sure how to set the right price point. A hidden benefit of project time tracking software is that it helps you fine-tune your pricing. You’re able to look back at past projects and evaluate the actual cost versus client fees. You can also estimate how much time each project takes or what goes into the product development process, then use the data to change your pricing based on your investment and the going market rates.

Avoid Employee Burnout

While some employees prefer to do the bare minimum, many tend to go the other direction. They go above and beyond to get the job done, which means long work hours, overtime, and plenty of stress. Time tracking tools help prevent burnout because staffers can evaluate their schedules and identify potential issues. For instance, they didn’t even realize they were working 12 hours a day, even if a few of those hours were officially off the clock. This software lets them analyze their work habits and strike a more effective balance. Thereby, helping you retain top performers and improve productivity. In fact, they’ll probably work fewer hours and accomplish more.

Ensure Prompt Payments

Prompt payments ensure that you have enough funding for your own business operations. Project time management software helps you streamline the entire billing process to avoid late payments from clients. This also ensures that you can move forward with projects instead of waiting for them to pay the next milestone. For example, you’re able to continue to the next phase because they’ve already provided the funding for additional resources.

6. Which Business Pain Points Can Project Tracking Apps Help You Address?

Another item on the “should I buy?” checklist is whether the tool bridges existing gaps. Can it really help you deal with some of the business challenges you currently face? More importantly, can it do it without going over budget or involving a steep learning curve for your staffers? Below are 5 common pain points that project time tracking systems can address head-on. Granted, you need to find the best tool for your remote work teams to focus on these areas for improvement. Fortunately, there’s a link for our downloadable eBook at the end of this article, which includes free resources to springboard your search.

Budget Overages

Do projects frequently go over budget? If so, poor planning might be the culprit. Project time management systems allow you to monitor expenses and prioritize spending. As an example, you can see how much you’ve already spent on this project and how much was funded by the client. You’re also able to identify cost-cutting areas. Maybe you don’t need to outsource this task. Or your current software is causing IT roadblocks that push you over the payroll budget. The software helps you crunch the numbers and stretch resources because your financial data is well organized.

Missed Deadlines

Missed deadlines lead to a whole host of problems. First and foremost, it has a direct impact on your bottom line. You can’t charge clients for incomplete milestones and they may not want to pay if the project is excessively late. It also has an impact on your business image. Clients don’t want to hire a company that’s known for missed deadlines. Project time tracking apps give you a clear overview of project assignments and due dates. You can also manage your human resources more effectively to ensure everything’s on time. For instance, you need to delegate more tasks to this employee to meet the deadline because they’re the only one with the necessary skills instead of having them work on another project that can wait since it’s due next month.

High Absenteeism

Employees don’t show up for work and the problem is only getting worse. High absenteeism is another issue that impacts every aspect of business operations. Employees who do clock in have to pick up the slack to cover for their absent co-workers, even if they don’t have the right skillset or experience, which leads to low quality work or in-depth revisions later on. Project time tracking systems help reduce absenteeism rates because employees are held accountable. They have to request days off and the software tracks their attendance remotely. For example, they can see how many days they missed this pay period and how much time was allocated for breaks. They may have worked an 8-hour shift, but three hours of that was an unapproved extended lunch. In short, time tracking systems empower them to take charge of their own workday and improve performance behaviors and habits.

Payroll Processing Roadblocks

Payroll seems to take forever because your HR team has to manually input all the data. Another problem might be miscalculations. For instance, an employee accidentally adds a zero to someone’s paycheck or they forget to include paid time off. Time tracking systems help prevent these roadblocks because it automates most of the process. That said, your team can still make changes and double-check the figures to make sure everything is accurate.

High Employee Turnover

As the saying goes, "they’re dropping like flies." You seem to lose employees faster than you can hire them or maybe it’s just a gradual trickle rather than a mass exodus. Time tracking tools help you reduce employee turnover and retain top talent. This is due to the fact that it makes life easier for everyone involved. HR staffers don’t have to handle as much backend paperwork, especially in terms of payroll and attendance. While frontend employees, like sales and customer service, can quickly invoice customers. As a result, staffers are more satisfied with their jobs and more likely to stay put. Accurate paychecks and personal time tracking dashboards are a big help as well.

Conclusion

Many organizations have moved their operations online in response to the COVID crisis. Project time tracker tools give you the opportunity to manage your remote work teams and maximize productivity. But, they can also help you build better relationships with clients and adjust pricing to improve profit margins, as you can prioritize projects that are more financially sound. Our exclusive online directory features the leading time tracking software vendors for every industry and price range. You can even read user reviews to see how they perform in the real world.

Are you ready to take the leap? If so, where do you even begin your time tracking software search and how do you qualify app providers to avoid buyer's regret? Download our eBook Project Time Tracking Software: Should You Invest In Tracking Apps For Your Remote Team? to discover free resources that can help you vet vendors and find the best system for your team.

eBook Release: Homebase
Homebase
Make work easier. Running a small business has never been harder. Homebase helps with free tools to track time and manage your team.