Using technology to improving productivity

As business leaders we’re always trying to increase efficiency and productivity within our teams (without sacrificing quality of course), and constantly trying to evaluate where we can make gains in this area. Lean, efficient teams usually translate to healthier bottom lines, however it’s not always easy to determine where the blocks are and what can be done to improve them.

There’s also the popular business philosophies that ‘what is measured, improves’ or ‘where focus goes, energy flows’, and many a business owner has been known to scratch their heads on occasion wondering “what the heck people are doing with their time!”.

The good news is, technology has made it possible to find these answers, and to effectively track time spent on tasks and projects, along with levels of productivity. There are a couple of benefits of implementing a productivity / time tracking software into your business. Firstly, knowing that your time and activity levels are being tracked in a way gamifying your work. Your team members will naturally strive for better outcomes and their own knowledge of how long things take them will improve, and in turn their time management skills. Secondly, as a business you’ll gain valuable insights into the bottlenecks that exist, and also into the profitability of certain functions or areas of the business.

We’ve put together a couple of our own recommendations, and also those of our clients, to bring you our favourite technologies to improve productivity and efficiency in your business:

Harvest

We chatted to our client, Kevin Weiss, from Amplio Digital about their experiences and software recommendations. Kevin says "Time tracking is absolutely essential for any professional services company that wants to remain profitable and grow. As a digital marketing agency specializing in Amazon Sales Acceleration and Paid Media Management, we rely heavily on time tracking software for a variety of business objectives. Our ability to increase sales for our clients is directly correlated to our revenue, so it is our goal to work as efficiently as possible to drive the best performance. It's critical that we are utilizing our employees effectively, and time tracking allows us to monitor that with laser precision. In summary, time tracking helps our employees and executive team understand where any given team member is spending their time, and how much time we're spending on any given client, which results in continual optimization of our most precious resource - time.

We use Harvest as our time tracking tool of choice. The system is a web-based application that has a desktop version for logging time entries and a mobile app for time tracking on the go. With Harvest, there's no software to install, the feature set is robust and the subscription fees are well worth the investment. Harvest is easy to use for even our most entry level employees and contractors, but the feature set is powerful enough to support executive and administrative functions seamlessly thanks to integration capability with our invoicing system, expense reporting and gross margin targets. We use the reporting features on a regular basis to improve our service for clients and increase our own profitability."

Time Doctor

Designed to help both teams and individuals, Time Doctor will track your time working, and summarise what you’ve been working on based on websites you’ve visited and software you’ve been using. As a manager using this with your team, you can also access these reports and gain insights into where your team members are spending their time. Like many other technologies, Time Doctor also enables you to turn on regular screen shots, integrates with many other popular applications, and much more.

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Everhour

Pamela Gerstmann, from Wealth Enhancers uses Everhour to track time using the Basecamp pluggin. She says “More than anything Everhour has given us better visibility over how long things actually take, and allowed us better insights into the profitability (or lack thereof) of each of our members and some of the bigger projects we work on. Before using Everhour we really didn’t have a good understanding of how long things take, I think it’s helped the team to plan their days better and improved their time management skills. Another positive side effect is helping us to stay focused. We’ve noticed that when you start that little timer on the task, you tend to stay focused on the task and then stop the timer as soon as you finish rather than getting distracted and ‘multi-tasking’ which we all know is not actually an efficient way to work!”

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Hubstaff

We personally use Hubstaff at Grow My Team to monitor and manage our team members who are working for our clients. This technology enables our team members to log their overall working hours, provides us with regular screen shots of what they are working on (so we can review if our clients have a performance issue) and gives us an overall activity level based on mouse clicks and movements. For us it acts as an overall reporting tool and allows us to provide a level of quality control to our clients. Like most software, Hubstaff integrates with around 30 different technologies and even allows us to pay our staff simply and easily through one of these integrations.