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Technology Tip
Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.

Time Tracking Software for Small Businesses

Time Tracking Software for Small Businesses

One of the most effective ways to get more done during the day is to pay attention to how you’re spending your hours and minutes, and time tracking software provides a variety of insights into what you’re working on (and when).

Time tracking software helps small business owners optimize their time, improve their productivity and increase revenue while streamlining the administrative requirements of recording time and preparing invoices.

Where the Day Goes

At its heart, time tracking software provides an accurate way for business owners and team members to record the time they spend on specific projects, clients or tasks. At the end of the day or when you finish a project, the software generates a report specifying how long you’ve worked on a project.

Different apps take varying approaches to how they accomplish this. For instance, some are based on timers that you start and stop as you work on different tasks or projects. You create an entry for a specific client and project, and record your time as you work on that project.

Others work in your computer’s background to record the activities you perform and allow you to assign those tasks to specific projects manually or do so automatically based on specific keywords you type as you work on a project. This approach may be better suited for workers who tend to forget to start a timer as they work.

Various services track your time though a cloud platform, mobile application or browser extension. Ideally, your service should allow integrations between all three approaches so you can record what you’re working on regardless of the device you’re using.

Some services are designed to support solo workers, such as consultants or web designers, while others are aimed at the needs of small teams. Team-based software will typically include task-tracking and collaboration tools.

Most services have free plans that offer basic tracking or a limited number of projects, with the ability to subscribe for additional features.

Time Tracking Benefits

Time tracking can provide a number of benefits to small business owners, including:

  • More accurate billing. If you bill clients based on the amount of time you spend on a given project, tracking software can provide an accurate total while reducing your need to track time manually or, even worse, retroactively.
  • Better understanding of how long a project should take. This can be helpful in estimating time and budgets for similar projects in the future.
  • Integration with financial management software. This reduces the time you spend preparing invoices while providing insights into your company’s performance and profitability.
  • Project tracking. Some apps include project and task-tracking features so you can compare project durations with budgets and identify potential problems early.
  • Identifying time, you spend in less-productive areas of your business. If the amount of time you’re spending on administrative functions is reducing your availability for profitable billable activities, time tracking software can help identify areas where it may be worth investing in outside help.
  • Reducing potential billing disputes. If a customer questions an invoice, you’ll have a detailed record of the time you devoted to a specific project.

Popular time tracking applications for solo workers include Toggl, Hours, Timely and others. Popular choices for teams include Harvest, Paymo, TimeCamp and others.

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