A discussion lead by SPC Service Consultant, Cassie Kerr
One of the most consistent complaints we hear from IT business owners is regarding time tracking and entry.
There is a running trend of technicians not properly logging their time, which causes a few problems—the most obvious ones being client invoicing and tracking costs. You don’t know how much to bill your clients if you aren’t aware of how much time is being dedicated to each ticket or client. In the event of a managed services agreement, where clients pay a fixed fee, it’s still important to know how much time is being dedicated to each client. You have to know which clients are actually profitable by tracking costs appropriately.
Tracking and entering time properly is also important because it gives you good performance metrics. If certain tasks take a disproportionately large amount of time, then it’s important to check in and see if things can be streamlined and made more efficient. You can’t do that if you don’t know what your technicians and engineers are working on. So not only does failing to track time negatively impact the individual and the client, it also negatively impacts the potential growth and improvement of the company as a whole.
So why is tracking time so difficult, and how do we fix it?
The answer is likely a simple one: your team is jumping between tickets/tasks so often that they lose track of what work they do, and when they do it. When one person works on a dozen tickets in one day, jumping between them as needs change, then tracking time and taking notes in each one can become a massive hassle—and therefore seem like an unnecessary waste of time to the technician. One of the easiest ways to address this issue is to work on one ticket at a time, and keep notes in real time. This allows you to just enter your end time as you close the ticket. Another, more systemic, solution to this problem is to get into the practice of scheduling out your time for each ticket, blocking out the predicted amount of time needed to solve the problem. This should help prevent distractions or other needs from infringing on the time allocated for the current ticket.
What are the benefits of 100% accurate time entry?
There are several. To begin with, profitability reporting is going to be much more accurate; you’ll know how much time is being dedicated to each client, and how much money each client is making you. This knowledge will be obviously helpful for future decision-making for your company. That said, the technician or engineer likely doesn’t care about that outcome, so how do you get them to care about time tracking? There are several different ways, one of which is to have your engineers and technicians shadow the individual invoicing your clients. If they see what the consequences of poorly-tracked time are, they might be more inclined or pressured to change. Another method of encouragement could be explaining (or illustrating) how accurately tracked time impacts their utilization—and how properly tracked time is a requirement for, or positively impacts, their chances for promotion.
There are some actions at the company level that could also help improve time tracking across the board. Setting up a system of automated messaging that reminds your team to log their time and track their time properly can make an impact. Weekly reports to managers outlining time entries for each technician or engineer can give your managers the information they need to enforce new policies. There are a variety of time entry tools, with associated training resources, that you can leverage to improve your results as well. For example, ConnectWise has a variety of tools that allow for easy time tracking, from an internal stopwatch function that makes time tracking simple, to a ticket-by-ticket time tracking system that allows for many different types of work to be logged.
If you’re looking for a resource to help train your staff in proper time entry, answer questions, and set up the tools that will improve the process, then Sierra Pacific Consulting can be your guide. We can provide time entry policy samples to show you what a good process looks like, and how to implement it.