Benefits of Time Tracking Beyond Billing

Sheena McGinley, June 5, 2024

Benefits of time tracking beyond billing

Admittedly, on the surface, the practice of time tracking has a mixed reputation (at best). For some, it instills images of mountainous spreadsheets and another layer of micromanagement. For others, it involves an Orwellian level of monitoring.

We're here to debunk any lingering myths surrounding time tracking which – when used correctly – is a tool to achieve that elusive work-life balance and steady profitability.

Join us as we delve into the benefits beyond simply keeping tabs on billable hours. In this blog post, we will outline:

  • How to encourage team buy-in
  • Some myths still circulating around time tracking
  • The benefits of time tracking beyond billing

Get a feel for the blog with our table of contents below. As you can see, we'll be kicking off proceedings by defining the glaring difference between time tracking and "employee monitoring".

Key difference between time tracking & employee monitoring

In short, time tracking at work is not evil in and of itself. It does, however, get exceptionally problematic when it breaches ethics and wanders into the dubious territory of employee surveillance.

If you’re humming “Tomato, tomahto” from Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off right about now, there is one glaring difference between the two practices.

Time tracking:
This involves understanding how work gets done and what is deemed a “time suck.” It’s gleaning pivotal data from those insights to better your processes and increase profitability. In the long term, this will benefit everyone.

Employee monitoring:
This leans (heavily) into observing what employees are doing. It’s used as a cudgel to berate, not a tool to encourage best practices. Methods of employee monitoring include recording your screen or tracking your keystrokes and/or the websites you visit, raising privacy concerns. It also sows seeds of distrust, is a morale killer, and doesn’t make for a happy or productive workplace.

As for why such employee monitoring software exists and gets conflated with time tracking practices? It’s largely a byproduct of COVID, which saw a large swathe of the global workforce having to operate from home.

This resulted in the uptick of the employee monitoring software market – particularly across sectors that weren’t keen on remote working in the first place. To put things into context; employee monitoring is expected to reach USD 2.10 billion by 2030.

While time tracking is still perceived to be a chore (despite our valiant efforts to revolutionize the practice :) it is necessary for lots of reasons.

Some benefits of time tracking at work

Time tracking at work

The ethos and benefits of time tracking might seem self-evident for a lot of you reading, but the importance of it is always worth repeating.

Simply put, time tracking for businesses is an effective log of how you and/or your employees spend your working hours. So far so standard, right? However, simple time tracking software will provide you with crucial data that can revolutionize how you do things and make your business more efficient and profitable in the process.

For instance, time tracking helps you to define:

  • Which tasks are most likely to siphon your time (once identified, they can be optimized or eliminated).
  • How you can improve and optimize efficiency cross-functionally.
  • Most importantly, where your revenue-building efforts should be focussed.

Think of time tracking like a “big picture” overview. You'll see where every hour is spent – from impending deadlines to those unexpected detours. This lets you identify areas to save time and boost your bottom line. Plus, you'll have solid reports to show clients exactly what goes into their projects, building trust, while justifying your fees.

Of course, any new system can take some getting used to. But the rewards of time tracking are indisputable.

Cultivating team buy-in when introducing time tracking

Team time tracking buy-in

Bringing in any new process can be a minefield. It can (and often will) be met with rampant skepticism, resentment, and a severe case of the “mehs.” How you frame things is imperative.

So, let's highlight some ways to make the introduction of time tracking a smooth transition for a team.

  • Keep it simple and start small: Choose user-friendly time tracking software and focus on capturing essential data initially.
  • Transparency is key: Explain the benefits of time tracking for both the company and individual productivity. Your team shouldn’t feel like this is being forced on them, so make the adoption of it a more collaborative process. Ask them, what they would like to see implemented.
  • Focus on efficiency: Integrate time tracking with existing workflows to minimize disruption. Memtime works in the background while you carry on with your workday as normal.
  • Training makes perfect: So the onboarding of this new process doesn't create the illusion of yet another time suck on their day, offer quick tutorials and guides to get your team comfortable with the new system.
  • Provide positive reinforcement: One word – incentivize! Recognize and reward early advocates of the system to create a productive work culture around time tracking.
  • Block it off: Start by blocking 10-minute daily increments across your organization to log time. Why? Well, it demonstrates that A) you see time tracking as an important task and B) that – most importantly – you care for the business plus the people who make it happen.

Time tracking myths debunked

Outdated yet all too prevalent misconceptions often cloud the true value of time tracking. Here are just a few of them…

Myth 1: “It only adds to your workload”
That might have been the case when folks were manually logging their time, but now that things are automated that is no longer an issue. For instance, once you create an account, Memtime just runs by itself in the background.

Myth 2: “It’s pointless because people forget to do it”
Please see the answer for Myth 1 😉

Myth 3: “It’s about control”
It depends on the context. In terms of taking control of your workload, your time, and your processes – then “yes”. If, however, by “control” you mean it’s about micromanagement, then “no”. Like we said from the outset of this article; ‘employee monitoring” is about micromanagement and control, whereas time tracking is about collating that golden data with which to base pivotal decisions.

Myth 4: “It’s only for managers”
Again, this leans into the micromanagement myth. In fact, time tracking is for everyone – not just the purview of those in positions of power. Show me someone who doesn’t need to know how to spend their time more efficiently and I’ll show you someone isn lolling in a deep pool of denial.

Myth 5: “It’s just for billing”
Nope. Behold our ten reasons why as outlined below!

10 benefits of time tracking beyond billing

10 benefits of time tracking

Listen, we all know the upsides of effectively managing billable utilization, but – given our previous section about cultivating team buy-in – it’s worth highlighting ALL the benefits of time tracking. It goes far beyond merely billing clients.

1. Decision-making that’s data-driven

Along with our 10th benefit outlined below, this is the most obvious reason as to why everyone should be tracking their time… the sweet, sweet, capturing of repeatable data which can then be used to make optimum decisions.

In case you’ve been residing under a rock for the last decade; in today’s business-world, data is deemed gold. Information is the lifeblood of any successful company. It unveils trends in employee workflows, pinpointing productivity boosters and time-wasters.

This empowers team leaders to optimize assignments, training, and even app usage, ultimately driving better business outcomes.

2. Promotes transparency

Transparency is like trust – it’s a two-way street. If you’re a business owner who trusts their employee to do a task within a certain timeframe, that employee will not squander your collective time by goofing off. If anything, they will strive harder to get the work done quicker so they can continue to enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship.

Not only does transparency provide a detailed breakdown of how employees spend their time, it empowers managers to adjust or redistribute tasks for optimal work distribution and employee well-being. Understanding actual time spent on activities, not just perceived time, reveals hidden tasks and allows for adjustments that promote efficiency and reduce burnout risk.

3. Brings accountability across the board

Transparent time tracking further fosters accountability. Seeing how much progress has been made on a project motivates employees to focus on essential tasks and avoid unproductive activities. The benefit of this is twofold:

  1. it improves overall efficiency
  2. it mitigates unintentional time theft.

When employees can see how much progress has been made on a project, they will be further motivated to work to the deadline. Meeting said deadlines, encouraging ownership of tasks, and offering real-time visibility into work progress, boosts individual and collaborative performance overall!

4. Project management enhancement

If you’re a project-driven company or solopreneur, you already know the benefits of time tracking in terms of project management enhancement. Without capturing the aforementioned repeatable data, how else are you going to set realistic completion timelines? How are you going to notice bottle necks and mitigate risks?

5. Improves customer experience

Informed data captured by time tracking results in fewer deadlines being missed. This, in turn, mitigates any of those awkward client conversations… Beyond that; when employees feel empowered and supported by efficient workflows (thanks to time tracking), it naturally converts to a higher quality customer product/services for your customers and boosts satisfaction overall.

6. Feedback evaluation

Feedback evaluation

Time tracking is the conduit for conversation. For instance, if the resulting data highlights certain pain points, it instigates a necessary chat on a certain facet. It provides a platform for an employee to be open about a certain topic. Not only does it promote different perspectives/feedback on processes and practices, but the data can back up a preferred approach.

What’s more, you might find that a certain employee excels in a specific project area, allowing you to tailor their future workload for the best results!

7. Reduced admin

What’s not to love about reduced administration when you’re already spinning several plates brimming with tasks. You primarily reap the benefit of this point if you go down the automated time tracking route.

8. Bolsters productivity

The time you claw back from more repetitive tasks that lend themselves to automation can instead be devoted to more productive endeavors! Additionally, time tracking helps to hone in on and eliminate workplace inefficiencies that might be hindering productivity overall.

9. Work/Life flexibility

Imagine having a tool that can proactively preempt employee burnout. Well, with time tracking software you do. By effectively tracking time, you can identify employees putting in excessive hours or neglecting breaks. Armed with these insights, you’re in a position to mitigate and/or offer targeted support. Or you could just ignore it, put the dead down, and keep plowing ahead. But you wouldn’t do that because that benefits no one in the long run.

10. Increases profitability

This is the proverbial Holy Grail in terms of highlighting just how much time tracking goes beyond billing. It facilitates the following:

  • It permits employees to focus on more profitable tasks
  • Lets project managers to optimize workflows
  • Helps management to streamline processes and resource allocation.

All of this means a healthier bottom line by eliminating inefficiencies and reducing wasted resources.

The benefits of using software for time tracking

Time tracking software is – hands down – the most efficient way to manage one of your most valuable resources (time, obvs). By efficiently managing that you can then get to grips with your second most valuable resource (data).

For context, automated time tracking software – such as Memtime – can save you as much as 75% of your time keeping effort.

Memtime time tracking software

Software, such as ours, records your time across all programs and displays your working day – which helps you to account for every minute. It integrates with a wide range of project management software (Asana, Teamwork, Harvest, ClickUp, we could go on).

For context, The ClickUp integration for Memtime allows you to streamline your time tracking workflow in the following three ways:

  1. Importing your Projects and Tasks.
  2. Assigning time entries directly to your ClickUp Tasks.
  3. Exporting your time entries to ClickUp.

Meanwhile, simply connecting your Google Calendar lets you view your calendar events directly in Memtime. Equally, for the comms people reading, if you use FRITZ!Box, you can record your calls and display them in your Memtime Memory Aid.

Wrapping up

Effective time management software can act as a motivational tool throughout your organization. It can also increase employee engagement and – if applied correctly – can mitigate employee churn.

By optimizing time, you unlock a winning formula: successful projects, consistent deadlines, increased revenue, and loyal, satisfied customers.

So, if you’re ready to let your time track itself, we’re ready to help. You can start a free Memtime trial for 14 days (no credit card details required), or schedule a no commitment call and we'll show you how your whole team can benefit from time tracking.

Meet the author:

Sheena McGinley - post author

Sheena McGinley

Sheena McGinley is a columnist and features writer for the Irish press since 2008. She’s also a business owner that is conscious of how time tracking can foster progress. She wrote for SaaS companies and businesses that specialize in revenue optimization by implementing processes. She has the unique ability to digest complex topics and make them easy to understand. She shares this precious skill with Memtime readers.

When she's not making words work for people, Sheena can be found taking (very) brisk dips in the Irish Sea.