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Few things are more valuable to small businesses than time.
Most small business owners would agree there aren't enough hours in the day for them, and their employees, to get everything done.
In an effort to boost efficiency, many small businesses are now employing the use of time tracking software to ensure their employees are maximizing their time and to cut down on some of the tedious human resources tasks that come with running a business.
Armando Ortega, director of product marketing for time tracking software provider Replicon, said at its core, the software is an application that makes it easier for companies to keep track of their employees' time.
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"Time is every organization's most precious resource, and you only have so much if it in a day," Ortega told BusinessNewsDaily.
Time tracking software captures the amount of time employees spend working overall, and has the capabilities to track how each hour of their day is being spent.
"Organizations might want to know how much time employees are spending on specific projects so they can have that insight into how much certain projects are costing and how long it is taking to get them completed," Ortega said.
Research from time-tracking software provider OfficeTime shows keeping details on what employees are doing each day pays off in the long run. Nearly half of those surveyed track their time because it helps them be more productive. For those tracking time to improve productivity, 42 percent do so to identify how their time is being used, while 31 percent want to know where their time was being wasted.
"By accurately tracking time each day, business owners and professionals not only can bill for more time and increase their revenues, but they can simply work more efficiently by making better use of their time," said Stephen Dodd, director of OfficeTime.
The software is also valuable in reducing the amount of time human resources employees need to spend figuring out how much each employee needs to be paid each month. Ortega said time tracking software can automatically factor in factors such as overtime and vacation.
"One of the advantages is that your staff doesn't have to spend time as much time working on these manual, tedious things," Ortega said.
Eleanor Ditzel, founder of the online site Payroll Services for Small Business, said there are pros and cons to using such software. On the positive side, she said the software can instantly provide a snapshot of how a company’s time is being used.
"Being able to have statistics provided by software takes a lot of guesswork out of managing the bottom line of a business," Ditzel said. "Software can do calculations in many ways that us humans can't, and when done manually, only the basics are calculated."
Ortega believes businesses of all sizes can use the software to find ways to keep costs down.
"It gives a good insight into where they are getting the most returns on their investment," Ortega said. "By looking at how much it is costing to deliver a project, you get insight into how to draw greater efficiencies into how those projects are delivered."
With that knowledge, Ortega said companies can better grasp how many employees are needed for certain projects in the future and how much money each project should cost.
Ditzel warns, however, that the software can turn into a negative when businesses start judging employee performance based solely on how well employees are able to maximize their time.
"People are not machines, and treating them like machines by tracking their coming and going and everything they do to see if they are functioning efficiently enough no longer works," Ditzel said. "Integrity and creativity are more important now than statistics."
To get the most of time-tracking software, Ditzel believes companies must have the right people in place to analyze the data.
"Time tracking software can spit out figures, yet someone needs to evaluate these figures — someone with a creative brain who can see the potential of little shifts here and there," she said.
While time-tracking software was previously only used by large corporations that could afford to spend the money on the high-priced application, Ortega said the cloud has made the services much more affordable for small businesses.
Since the application uses the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, the small business doesn't have to worry about the expensive costs of ensuring they have the right computer systems in place to run the software. The cloud model allows businesses to log in from any Internet browser and immediately start using the service.
Ortega said many small businesses are attracted to this style because it can easily be expanded as their business grows.
"You pay for as much as you use," Ortega said. "If they have more employees, they can just buy more user licenses and if for some reason there is a need downsize, you have the flexibility to do that, too."