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The problem-solving potential of agency time tracking software

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Updated on:
March 10, 2024
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Running an agency is hard work. There’s so much to do on any given day, from managing projects to speaking with clients, completing tasks, and more. Quite often, it may feel like you simply don’t have enough time to accomplish everything. That can lead to delays, frustration, and questions around your agency’s scheduling and productivity.

Agency time tracking software can help. Granted, it won’t magically solve every time-related issue. But it can help you manage the time you have much more effectively, understanding where and how it’s being spent. This allows you to spot processes that aren’t quite as efficient as the rest, and take action to improve them. In this guide, we’ll look at the value and key benefits of agency time tracking solutions.

An introduction to agency time tracking software

First, a definition of agency time tracking software. Essentially, it’s just what it sounds like – software that helps you track the time your agency spends on different processes, tasks, and projects. Each program is different, with various features and functions. But they all have the same main objective: to give you the data you need to make your agency more efficient.

Of course, this concept has been around for many years. Way back in the 1700s, for example, factories employed clerks to monitor what time workers arrived and left. Later, time clocks came into existence, with workers manually punching their cards in the clock to log their arrivals and departures. Then, as time went by and modern technology emerged, so too did time tracking software.

Since then, some software developers have taken the concept even further, with monitoring software. This is effectively the next step up from time tracking. It’s designed to watch employee activities, with features like keystroke logs and screen recording. Many workers have expressed distaste toward monitoring software. In contrast, time tracking apps are more widely accepted.

What does agency time tracking software do?

In order to truly understand the value and benefits of agency time tracking software, it’s important to know what it’s capable of. As touched on earlier, there are different types of time tracking apps, each with their own sets of features. Here’s a closer look at some of the most important and valuable features that tend to be present in leading time tracking apps.

Time tracking

This is the fundamental feature of every time tracking app. Inspired by the working clocks of yesteryear, today’s time tracking programs are able to log the time spent on tasks, processes, and projects. They accurately monitor and record exactly how many minutes and hours workers spend getting things done.

Generating timesheets

The best time tracking apps are also able to use the time data they track and store in various ways, such as timesheet generation. They can automatically create timesheets to show how many hours you’ve spent working on a particular project, and how much you’re owed for that work. This is very helpful when it comes to making and sending out invoices to your agency clients.

Integration with invoices and payroll

The best time tracking apps are also seamlessly integrated with other key elements of your tech stack, like invoicing and payroll. They’ll feed your invoicing platform, giving it the data it needs to generate accurate invoices. Or, they’ll transmit billable hour info to your payroll management. That’ll make the whole process of paying your workers easier and less error-prone.

Detailed time logs and reports

The best apps store logs of time data. They show you exactly how time is being spent, with detailed databases you can dig through at your leisure. Those databases can be a goldmine of insight. You can look through them and figure out where time is being wasted or which processes aren’t 100% optimized. Some apps go further, generating their own reports for your analysis.

10 problems that agency time tracking software solves

The most valuable pieces of agency software don’t merely exist to make your work easier. They also solve problems, the kind of problems that could be weighing down your agency and impacting your productivity, morale, and more. In this section, we’ll look at ten common problems that many agencies face and explain how time tracking apps can solve them all.

Problem 1 – Wasted time

Time is the most precious commodity of all. The best agencies know exactly how to manage it, while failing agencies often waste huge amounts of it. If you feel like your agency may be wasting excessive amounts of time, time tracking software can make all the difference.

One of the best things about time tracking apps is how they bring visibility to your agency’s timekeeping. They help you see clearly how your time is being spent, which operations and processes are running smoothly, and which are being drawn out.

This is invaluable when it comes to identifying sources of wasted time and weeding them out. It might be a particular team or worker who isn’t pulling their weight. Or it might just be a certain way of doing things that needs to be made more efficient. Either way, a time tracking app will tell you.

Problem 2 – Low productivity

Productivity. It’s the holy grail of any business, the one thing that every owner strives to improve. Many dream of the perfectly optimized agency, where every process is efficient, every project is done on time, and every aspect of work is streamlined.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a perfect agency. There will always be issues to fix, gaps in your productivity and processes that have to be updated as time goes by. But while you might not be able to reach productivity perfection, you can get much closer with time tracking tools.

These apps allow you to see where things are going wrong in your agency. You can consult the time logs to see which tasks are taking up excessive amounts of time, and then take steps to remedy that. Many workers also tend to become more productive when they work with time tracking software.

Problem 3 – Outdated and disorganized processes

So many agencies suffer from outdated processes. You might have started off with a certain way of doing things that seemed to work well at the time. But then, time goes by, and that way of working no longer produces the results it once did.

By spotting and updating outdated and disorganized processes, you can help your agency save more time, make more money, and run more efficiently. But spotting them isn’t always easy. Once again, time tracking apps are here to help.

If you misses deadlines on a project, for example, you can dig into the time logs to find out why. With a good time tracking app, you should be able to see exactly which aspect of the project took too long. You can then cross-reference that with time data from other projects to identify patterns, trends, and processes that need an overhaul.

Problem 4 – Lack of accountability

Accountability is important in any industry. If workers don’t feel responsible for their work, or always assume that someone else will pick up their slack, it can cause lots of problems. This ties into the points listed above – lack of accountability is often directly correlated with low productivity and wasted time.

However, when workers know that their efforts are being tracked, they’re usually more likely to put in the necessary effort. They’ll also feel less inclined to mess around or spend time on non-work activities.

In other words, time tracking software induces accountability. It makes workers feel more responsible, and in some cases, more motivated, too. The right software can help your agency drastically cut down on time wasters.

Problem 5 – Imbalanced allocation of resources

Every agency has a finite array of resources to spend and manage. How you manage those resources – just like how you manage time – can make or break your business’s future. The best agencies allocate their resources as efficiently as possible, so nothing gets wasted.

However, once again, it’s often immensely tricky to know where to spend resources and which ones might be going to waste. But time tracking software can help with that, too.

It may help you see, for example, that one team regularly gets things done way ahead of schedule. Meanwhile, another team struggles to hit deadlines. Digging into that further, you may find that the second team simply lacks the resources and support it needs.

Problem 6 – Increasing levels of competition

From software development to marketing, many industries are getting more competitive. There are more agencies out there than ever before, all offering similar services to one another and vying for the attention of the same kinds of clients.

Keeping up with your rivals in this increasingly crowded and competitive market isn’t easy. Especially when those rivals often have a range of technological tools at their disposal to help them become faster, better, and more efficient.

Often, one of the only ways to keep up is to make sure you’ve got the best tools to support your own workforce and processes, too. That includes time tracking software. It’s a vital element of modern-day agency tech stacks and could give you the edge you need over your nearest rivals.

Problem 7 – Dissatisfied clients

Ultimately, one of the primary objectives of any agency is to make clients happy. If you can give people the services and results they want, they’ll be much more likely to return to you in future or recommend you to others.

That helps you build up a strong base of loyal customers, which obviously has a positive impact on your profits. Conversely, if you fail to please your clients, you can suffer a range of knock-on effects, like fewer leads and a damaged reputation.

Naturally, clients won’t be pleased if deadlines are missed and services are delayed. By using time tracking software to monitor and optimize your operations, you should find it easier to deliver A-grade service to all.

Problem 8 – Unhappy talents

It’s not just clients who might be let down by your agency. Your top talents, too, might feel disappointed if they put in lots of hard work and don’t feel noticed or valued. This happens with surprising regularity, especially in busy agencies with multiple teams all working on complex projects.

One team might put in a lot of extra effort and overtime to get things done and hit their targets. But the higher-ups might not notice those efforts. This can lead to talented workers feeling demotivated and unseen. In the worst-case scenario, they might even leave to look for work elsewhere.

Time tracking software again provides a solution to this problem. It lets you see exactly how each team and worker is performing. This allows you to easily reward and acknowledge those who perform better than expected, while also encouraging and aiding those who struggle.

Problem 9 – Managing a remote workforce

Ever since the pandemic, remote work has been on the rise. These days, it’s not uncommon for agency teams to be spread out across various regions, states, or even countries. However, managing a remote workforce, with some people at home and others in the office, isn’t always easy.

It can be hard, for example, to maintain accountability and ensure that everyone is pulling their weight when your workers are so spread out. At the same time, you may not want to micromanage or track them too much, as that could harm their morale.

Time tracking software is the perfect fix. It makes it easy for you to see and manage your remote teams, without delving too far into the extremities of monitoring software. It’s also beneficial for the workers. Many find it helpful to use software to see how many hours they’re putting in and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Problem 10 – Human error

Human error is natural, and inevitable. People make mistakes. There are many reasons for this, such as being overworked or simply getting distracted at a key moment. Either way, the cost of human error can be huge, depending on the situation.

Your team could, for example, make a mistake when trying to work out the number of billable hours to charge a client. That could lead to an inaccurate invoice, a dispute from the client, and all sorts of legal trouble, as well as harm to your reputation.

You can count on time tracking software to get things right. It produces accurate data every time, perfect for preparing invoices or automating parts of your payroll management. With fewer errors to fix, your agency operations should flow much more smoothly.

Choosing and using agency time tracking software

Time tracking software clearly solves plenty of problems for agencies. It can streamline your agency’s operations, boost morale, raise productivity, and more. However, if you hope to get the best results from your time tracking technology, you have to choose and use it with care. Here are some tips and tricks to help.

Don’t rush in

There are lots of time tracking apps to choose from. However, they’re not all made equal. Some are basic, others are more complex. Some have just a couple of key features, others are fully integrated all-in-one solutions that work seamlessly with the rest of your tech stack.

Naturally, it’s important to avoid rushing in and using the first app you find, without weighing up its pros and cons. Check out the full list of features and functions you’ll be getting, compare your options, and consider your needs to find the right program.

Consider an all-in-one

As mentioned above, some time tracking apps are actually part of all-in-one agency software packages. The best packages also come with countless other agency essentials – like a CRM and scheduling tools – all designed to work side-by-side.

Often, it’s best to use these kinds of all-in-one suites, if you can. They’re easier to work with and much more cost-effective than buying everything separately. Plus, when everything has been designed by the same developer, you don’t have to worry about any incompatibility issues.

Get input and ideas from your team

As an agency owner, you’re the big decision-maker for the business. It’s you who has the final say regarding what steps the company takes and which pieces of software it invests in. But that doesn’t mean that you should make decisions alone.

When it comes to picking software that your team will use each day, it makes a lot of sense to involve them in the process. Speak with team leaders and workers at different levels to find out what they need and what kinds of features could benefit them.

Review time logs to find areas of improvement

Simply having a time tracking program isn’t enough to automatically give you all the benefits and solutions listed above. You have to use it the right way, and that means actively checking through the time logs to see how your agency’s time is being spent.

Get into the habit of reviewing the logs on a regular basis, especially at the end of projects. See which processes were completed quickly, and which ones tended to take longer. Then, go into more detail, finding out the root causes behind slow processes or delays and finding ways to fix them.

Combine time tracking with other processes

Another way to ensure that you get maximum value out of a time tracking app is to use it together with other parts of your agency stack. You may be able to combine your time tracking technology with your billing and payroll processes, for example. This may help you speed up invoice generation and salary calculation.

In the best case, you may even be able to automate certain payroll and invoicing processes. Time, energy, effort – they’ll all be saved in abundance with the help of your time tracking app. That frees up your staff to focus their efforts on other aspects of the business.

Again, this is why it’s usually best to opt for all-in-one agency software which has these integrations and automation capabilities built in.

Choose the right agency time tracking software for your firm

Saving time. Improving productivity. Balancing your resource allocation. When used well, there’s no doubt that time tracking software brings invaluable benefits to any agency. Indeed, the advantages are almost limitless, and the best apps are ready to move with you as your firm grows, scaling up and down accordingly. However, to maximize your returns, you have to pick the right tool for the job.

For most agencies, especially those seeking improvements to productivity and faster growth, Bonsai’s all-in-one agency software is the perfect solution. Featuring not just time tracking software, but also a CRM, invoicing, scheduling, and more, it’s got everything you need to build and grow a successful agency. Contact the Bonsai team today to learn more about it. 

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