Companies employ costly knowledge workers and subject experts to trade their expertise for an hourly consulting fee and collect a tidy return on their payroll investment. But financial managers often find themselves burdened with time-consuming investigations to understand why actual billings don’t match expected earnings, what causes the deficit, and how to prevent it altogether.
“Time management needn’t be that difficult,” says Brendon Gass, CEO of SmartHR. “With the right systems in place, it’s as easy as 1-2-3.”
Where has the time gone?
There are many reasons why companies bleed time (and therefore profits), such as:
• Workers operate at low capacity and their time is not tracked
• Workers operate at high capacity but don’t report all their time spent
• Workers waste time on unprofitable activities
• Companies take on extra capacity already available in their underutilised workforce
• Companies fail to curb overruns on allocated project time
• Companies fail to leverage slack accumulated against allocated project time
• Companies don’t set sensible KPIs against which to measure worker performance
• Companies don’t have a long-term strategy for improving workforce utilisation
These reasons can quickly turn a profit into a loss. Yet, with the right system, financial managers can not only track down missing time with ease but also prevent loss entirely. Says Gass, “They can lock in profits and ensure a favourable return on investment by continuously improving worker performance and workforce utilisation.”
“It’s important to realise that time management isn’t just a system for capturing and billing hours,” warns Gass. “It’s continuous control of a dynamic lifecycle with the power to inform enterprise strategy at all levels.”
A systematic approach
A standalone time tracking app from your favourite app store can’t manage such a complex ecosystem. Rather, financial managers need a specialised solution that encompasses the full spectrum of time management.
As a minimum, it should have the following critical characteristics:
A computerised system offsets the cost of time administration by automating the majority of the work and eliminating human error.
The right system manages the complete lifecycle of time and provides utilities for improving worker performance, workforce optimisation and financial control.
It helps develop a long-term profitability planning, backed by a continuous improvement process.
At grassroots level, capturing hours worked is easy and the system is available at the point of activity, often through web access or a mobile frontend.
Using search, administrators can review time data on demand to rapidly handle queries and resolve discrepancies.
An intermediate function facilitates interactions between managers and workers, speeding communication, and providing time approval and escalation processes.
Information across the system, including payroll, leave, customer, location, and any other data, is integrated by seamless processes that promote continuity across the business.
Analytical tools leverage the entire database – not just timesheets – to offer a consolidated view of time dynamics against which to manage the workforce, develop policy and protect profits.
For many financial managers, reconciling lost and billable time is a full time job. However, the right approach – assisted by appropriate technologies – makes the process simple and painless. Savings in effort, improved profitability, cost reduction and increased strategic visibility more than justify the investment. Gass advises all financial managers to review and optimise their time management processes where possible.