Professional service firms including consultants, architects, engineers, IT services, accountants, legal firms, and more tend to do business differently from retail, e-commerce, and production companies. A lot of time may be spent in the client's office or home, traveling, or in the field. For this reason, these companies need the best time tracking software that fits the way they do business.
In addition to keeping track of their own hours and expenses, they will also need an employee time tracking app that can be used on mobile devices, computers, or tablets. Before choosing a time tracker for your business needs, consider the benefits and features you should look for in timesheet software for small business.
What is Professional Services Automation (PSA)?
The automation of administrative tasks for companies that provide professional services is similar to how digital technology automated the factory. Many processes and functions that were previously done manually were replaced with a digital-run machine and other software that supported the way factories do business.
The same automation is available for consultants and private practices that need a way to track employee time, total budget, and all the tasks associated with completing a project. A time tracker online or a downloaded time tracker is one part of a total project automation solution. Companies like BigTime offer an employee tracking app as part of a total professional services automation bundle or as a standalone time tracker.
Why you need project time tracking software
Consultants are professionals who have a unique business model and may have different client payment models. Freelancers, consultants, lawyers, and other professionals structure their billing in one of many ways including:
- Retainer fee - money paid upfront to secure the services of a consultant
- Hourly fee - per hour time charge for each task or service provide
- Fixed price - delivery of services for a fixed price that never changes
- Time, expenses, and material - a fixed hourly rate plus detailed expense and materials
The best employee time tracking software for consultants and professionals should be flexible enough to adapt to each of these client fee structures. Your goal in using timesheet software for small business is for your and your employees or freelance help to get paid for all your time and all your expenses - even if those expenses are hidden or a part of your fixed price, retainer fee, or hourly fee.
It's often not the 8 hours in-office time that aren’t properly tracked, but it is additional time and cost which can cause a business to lose profits or fail completely. These lost hours include:
- Employees failing to log billable hours
- Time not charged for emails and other communications
- Time spent in client office, video meetings, or on phone calls
- Researching a solution for your clients
- Filing paperwork and/or printing of documentation
This leaked or lost time can be avoided when you have a time tracker online or an employee tracking app that goes with you wherever you go and is not dependent on a fixed, in-place, time clock system.
Best time tracking software for small business
As a small business owner, you have to do more, with less. Maximizing productivity only happens when you implement smart time management solutions. Tracking time is another way to track progress, especially when your project is based on a set time frame.
Time tracking software for consultants should not be cumbersome to use or difficult to roll out among employees in the office, in the field, or working remotely from home. A main benefit of an employee tracking app is to reduce the load on administrative workers and make it easy for employees to log their time and expenses - even when not in the office. There is no room for human error or confusing version histories when you choose a time tracker app built specifically for the way professionals and consultants do business.
The best time tracking software for small business will feature security permissions and managerial overrides so that supervisors or business owners are always in control of payroll. Most projects have a budget that includes man hours, overhead, and expenses. If you want to keep your projects on track and under budget then it is critical to track all time, materials, and expenses to be charged to clients.
Test drive a free time tracking app
Always choose from the list of time tracking software like BigTime that provide a free trial period, so you and your employees can test drive the app before making a full committment. Getting that first-hand experience with your employee time tracking app is the only way to see the type of report generation that can see how and where your employees are spending their time.
A time tracker that only logs check-in and check-out hours is an employee time clock, and is not the best time tracking software for consultants. Avoid a time tracking software for employees that doesn't offer a demo or free trial. It is more than likely that the app needs a lot of upfront set-up before you can even start using it.
And finally, test drive a project time tracking software that can provide total solution to your project services and not just time tracking. A bundled solution means you can grow your software as your needs grow, with each project tool seamlessly working together.