4 major insights into data-driven planning: How we are using time-tracking and data analytics to improve our business operations.

Time tracking
Do you and your staff know where all your time is going? What could you do with that information?

At LuminateOne, it has become second nature to our staff to track their time. We use a combination of Project Management Software Systems (Jira and Workflow Max) including our own custom-built software integration that enables staff to accurately track their time against each task and automatically collect data as they work. This data gives our analytics team considerable information to drill down into. With a bit of analytical magic from Power BI (a business analytics service) our time-tracking data has revealed four key insights we have used to empower our staff and improve our operational efficiency.

1.      Staff Productivity

Using time-tracking software, our time spent at work can be broken down into billable and non-billable hours. Billable hours account for time spent working directly on a task for a client. These hours are generally billed to the customer or written-off. Non-billable hours can range from internal meetings to adding new tunes to our office Spotify playlist. Having visibility over where time is being spent encourages staff members to stay on track, learn what time of day they are the most productive and how long each type of task will generally take them.

When analysing our information, we apply forecasting methods to accurately predict project performance of individuals and teams based on experience, availability, historical performance, and role preference. We can also identify areas for staff training and predict the positive financial implications of non-billable activities such as team building exercises to strengthen relationships and enhance company culture.

Greater transparency around time-tracking inevitably improves trust between Managers and staff members. Time-tracking allows staff to take ownership of their schedules without the need for micromanagement and Managers can spend less time out of their day following up on staff members to find out when tasks are going to be completed.

2.      Accuracy of estimates

Estimates are essential to winning new business. But accurately estimating how much time and money a project will require is a hard job and has proven to be particularly complex in the IT industry. A study carried out by McKinsey & Co analysed over 5000 large-scale IT projects and revealed that on average, projects went over budget by 45% and delivered 56% less value than predicted. So how do we prevent this from happening?  By utilising our most valuable business asset, our data.

When estimating how much a job will cost, we break down the scope of the project into detailed tasks. Using our software, we can track exactly how long it takes for an employee to complete each task. By having a record of how long tasks have taken to complete in the past gives us an accurate baseline for rapidly producing future estimates and the ability to select the most suitable person to complete the task.

Time-tracking allows staff to take ownership of their schedules.

3.      Resource Allocation

Planning for staffing demand is integral when operating a software development business. It is important to have insight in to how many staff members are needed for each big project to avoid under or over-allocating. For example, you could find you are paying five staff members to do something that only requires three. This dramatically increases overhead costs while potentially missing out on extra revenue.  In contrast, if you do not have enough staff available for work at one given time, this could lead to over-worked and stressed employees, missed deadlines, a decrease in product quality and brand damage.

As a solution to this, we employ advanced and live reporting, which accurately assess the capacity of each staff member and assign tasks to them, knowing how long these tasks will take to be completed and who the best person will be to complete the task. This gives us the ability to accurately communicate timelines and milestones to customers and enables us to predict when spare capacity is coming up, so there is enough warning time to fill the spare capacity with ease.

4.      Improved Operations

“If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” – Lord Kelvin.

An inefficient workflow can be the biggest culprit of revenue loss. By implementing the right tools, we can analyse where our time is spent and look for innovative solutions to become more efficient.

Is there a mundane administrative task that is taking a staff member 5 hours each week that could be automated? Or is there a certain task that causes production bottlenecks and slowdowns that could be avoided? Our customised software system automates the typically tedious tracking of time and eliminates the need to double handle data, therefore, reducing hours of unnecessary administration each week.

Finding innovative solutions is our bread and butter, and if we can constantly improve our workflow and address bottlenecks, this allows us to spend our time on what we do best.

Key takeaways for your business

With a better understanding of your data, you will be able to identify issues, prevent underestimation, and create more accurate cost estimates for future jobs.

Talk to us about implementing the right software and leveraging data from previous work to ensure that you will not underestimate on your next job!

 

 

 

By Juliet Shaw – Data Analytics Lead @ LuminateOne

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