Running an agency is TOUGH.
As a digital agency, you face a host of challenges most B2C companies don’t have to deal with:
- The “feast or famine” cycle of new business
- A constantly shifting media landscape
- Soaring ad rates
- Unpredictable Google updates
- RFPs, RFQs, and creative reviews
- Unrealistic client expectations
There’s a lot to keep up with, and the industry is ever-changing. But one thing remains the same:
Time is money.
For agencies trying to maximize efficiency and profitability, time-tracking has never been more important.For agencies trying to maximize profitability, time-tracking has never been more important. Click To Tweet
The importance of time tracking
There’s nothing more valuable than time. And if your agency bills by the hour, accurately tracking time is critical to growing the business. Inaccurate time-tracking means inaccurate invoicing, which means one of two things:
- You’re not getting paid enough
- You’re scamming your clients
(It should go without saying, but neither is good.)
Time tracking isn’t just about getting paid, though. It’s also critical for increasing transparency, building trust, and cultivating long-term relationships with clients. Before signing off on the latest invoice, clients want to see exactly how time is being spent.
But despite its importance, getting employees to track time can be difficult. People forget, procrastinate, or a combination of both. Some companies have gotten creative to ensure timesheets are filled out, but it remains an uphill battle.
Time tracking for agencies
Time tracking can be especially difficult for agencies. Consider what you’re up against:
Employees jump in and out of multiple projects, and time isn’t always tracked to the right project — or recorded at all. Working with a mix of full-time employees and part-time freelancers means time is often tracked using multiple systems and processes, and making sense of it all can be a nightmare. On top of all that, the folks you work with are super creative — they’re great at executing cutting-edge marketing campaigns, but often less enthusiastic and disciplined about filling out timesheets.
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Is it even worth it?
In the face of such challenges, some agencies have gone nuclear and opted to give up on timesheets completely. Ditching timesheets may work for some, but it’s definitely not for everyone. Hourly billing requires accurate time tracking. Clients want accountability. And you want insight into who’s working on what. For most agencies, that means timesheets.
Before you get all Debbie Downer, though, consider this:
The mind-numbing drudgery of traditional, manual time-tracking means agencies often overlook timesheets’ advantages. Drew McLellan actually calls timesheets the “key to agency profitability.” McLellan reminds agency managers:
“The data you collect through time sheets will make evident what you’re doing well, and it will also demonstrate where there’s room for improvement. Most importantly, it will reveal the profitability of each client by illustrating the time spent on every project.”
But maximizing profits is about more than just tracking time. It’s also about tracking time accurately. Incomplete and inaccurate timesheets are expensive! In fact, according to a recent study, the U.S. economy loses 50 million hours, or $7.4 billion a day, in untracked time.
Timesheets don’t do a damn bit of good unless people actually track time accurately. So how exactly do you make that happen?The U.S. economy loses 50 million hours, or $7.4 billion a day, in untracked time. Click To Tweet
How to make timesheets work for your agency
To make timesheets work for your agency, you need to ensure three things:
- It’s easy
- It’s accurate
- It gets done — and done well
Fortunately, technology makes accurate time tracking easier than ever before for agencies. Time-tracking software is easy-to-use, affordable, and accessible anywhere for employees and freelancers alike — in the office, at the coffee shop, on the plane, wherever…
Traditional timesheets are tedious, cumbersome, and prone to errors. Time tracking software eliminates these issues. With user-friendly timesheet apps like Hubstaff, tracking time is as simple as clicking a button on your desktop, smartphone, or tablet.
More advanced time tracking apps even integrate with project management tools like Asana, Trello, and Basecamp, so tracking time between projects and tasks is easier than ever. When it comes time to run payroll, some time-tracking software even integrates with popular payment, accounting, and invoicing tools like PayPal, QuickBooks, and Payoneer.
The best time tracking software tracks time to specific projects and generates reports automatically, so you can understand at-a-glance whether or not time is being spent efficiently — no time-consuming data-crunching required. Some automated time tracking apps even included built-in safeguards like idle timeout, which detect inactivity and ensure that time tracked is actually time worked.
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For managers and clients alike, time tracking software offers real-time insight into employee activity levels, app usage, and even screenshots. Teams working at multiple job sites can even utilize GPS time tracking to track time to specific locations.
It gets done — and done well
Of course, even the most accurate time tracking software is useless if people don’t actually use it. Today’s best time tracking apps make adoption and compliance simple, with desktop apps available for Mac, Windows, and Linux, and mobile apps available for iOS and Android.
With automated time tracking, ensuring employees compliance is easy, and agency managers and clients alike can rest assured that time reports and invoices are accurate.
Make your agency more profitable with easy timesheets
If you’re running an agency and billing clients by the hour, the success of your business depends on accurate time tracking. Not only does tracking time tell you (and your clients) who did what when, but it also provides valuable insight into agency processes, so you can proactively identify bottlenecks and correct inefficiencies. But traditional timesheets make ensuring compliance difficult, and they’re often riddled with inaccuracies.
Fortunately, today’s timesheet apps mean a small investment in automated time tracking can increase efficiency and profitability with minimal effort and employee discomfort.