Hours and minutes are precious for everybody. We spend a lot of them working, and we strive to set a few aside for family and personal use. Yet, it’s hard at the end of the day, or the week, to accurately remember just how we spent that time.

For those in the professional services industry, that presents a real challenge. Often, time is the only commodity there is to sell. So it’s all the more important to keep close track of those precious hours, because they convert into money.

Imagine, for a moment, that billable hours were like nice, cube-shaped boxes of a product in a warehouse. If you were tasked with taking inventory, would you take a cursory glance at the shelves and just guess? Surely your boss wouldn’t be pleased.

Or maybe you’ve taken inventory, and now you know you have 150 boxes in stock. Would you roll up the warehouse doors and start giving away products to passersby? Not if you wanted to stay financially solvent.

The same thing is happening every day with many consultants and people who bill for time.

Traditional time tracking software uses a well-known (and well-worn) paradigm: A spreadsheet-style interface. They have columns for Project Date, Description, Time Spent, etc. Then you record your data in rows, one for each entry.

Consultants are busy people and filling out electronic timesheets is not likely a high priority on your daily to-do list. The days, or even weeks, go by and nothing is recorded, while memories have long since begun to fade.

Next, your supervisor is barking at you to turn in your timesheet. Now the panic sets in, and here’s where the problem gets worse: You honestly can’t remember what you did, so you start guessing.

You go through your calendars, scouring for appointments. You’re digging through the scraps of paper on your desk and in your trash can. You comb through your archived emails looking for any clues to supplement your fragmented memory. At best, you manage to capture the majority of what you were missing, but you probably left a few of those precious billable hours on the table. More probable, and even worse, you have to make it up. Then you and your customer are paying the price.

No matter how fancy of a time tracking system you have, if you’re not capturing your time accurately and as it happens, you’re either cheating yourself, or you’re cheating your clients.

You’ve heard the saying, “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” That accurately describes the ripple effect caused by the failure to accurately capture time.

If you, and others in your office, are making an “educated guess” of the time spent on your various projects, how accurate can that data really be? That “dirty data” is then used to generate reports that are distributed to management, and thus could influence supervisors and managers to make bad decisions.

What is more, if time is not captured immediately, it becomes easier for individuals and even whole teams to go off-track, possibly resulting in cost overruns for your clients. Getting the time tracking data at the end of the month doesn’t allow you to make any adjustments. The damage is done.

All these woes are symptoms of the top time tracking problem for the professional services industry: consistent and efficient usage of tools to capture time.

So how do we tackle that problem? We’ve developed the perfect fix for it, and we call it TiM – Time is Money.

In our next article, “Solving the Top Time Tracking Problem for the Professional Services Industry”, we’ll dive into how TiM addresses these issues by making it really simple to track your time as you spend it.

If you’d like to learn more right away, please visit our product page for TiM. Then contact us to start a conversation to help alleviate your time tracking problems.

By Peter Joeckel, HandsFree, www.handsfree.biz

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