Of all the ways to keep work, effort and progress accountable, tracking time is one of the best. Time tracking is important for every business—whether you charge by the hour, or just want to manage the resources and costs involved for different pieces of work. Yet time tracking is also extremely unnatural—people simply aren't designed to recall everything they work on with objective precision.
It's why more companies are ditching fiddly, error-prone spreadsheets and notepads for sophisticated, purpose-built time tracking apps. Fancy time tracking software can't be developed for free, so if you're still unsure whether another taking out another tool subscription is worth it, carefully consider whether the benefits of time tracking apps are sizeable enough for your business. We've pulled together some of the biggest benefits, highlighting insights from real people who have automated their time tracking.
The benefits of time tracking apps
1. Bill accurately
“I knew I was missing time due to bouncing from client to client, and was looking for something to capture those lost billables. I can already tell Timely is going to help me bill more of my time, increasing my revenue without increasing my work.”— Melanie, accountant
A time tracking system captures everything you do while you work, creating a flawless record of all work activities as you move between clients and projects. By removing the need to remember tasks or set timers, they remove the manual error and guesstimation of basic, memory-based methods.
2. Manage projects
“I can better organize my team’s work, seeing exactly where we are effective (and profitable) and where we have to find a better workflow.”— Piotr, PR agency
Time tracking apps can digest all your project information to help you improve estimations and manage costs in real-time. They’re becoming essential tools for improving project management
3. Improve productivity
“I can literally see how I spent every minute of the day and on what. I wish I had a Timely for the analogue parts of my day too!” — Heidi, marketer
Time tracking apps reveal exactly how you get distracted—from the websites that steal your focus, to how often you switch context—and what’s slowing you down, to help you address personal and operational inefficiencies. Knowing everything’s being captured can also do wonders to lock productive focus.
4. Communicate progress
I work from home and I need to send a daily report of what I have worked on to my manager. Timely’s automation helps me be as precise as possible and saves me the work of tracking my own hours. I really like to see where my time goes and how long I actually use on tasks.— Anja, content creator
Apart from just collecting all your time data, time tracking apps also present it in helpful reports. It’s ideal for sharing status updates with managers or providing clients with an itemized breakdown of exactly where their money went.
5. Understand capacity
“My team is virtual and working on many projects. As we grow, we need to better understand capacity and the time it takes to complete certain tasks so we bill clients appropriately. Paper record-keeping is tedious. Timely’s slick, intelligent platform helps us easily keep track of where time goes.”— Michele, business owner
You can’t maintain a healthy workload or gauge the sustainability of your business without knowing your capacity. Time tracking apps can show you this in real time, which helps individuals protect themselves from overworking, as well as allowing managers to coordinate and balance team effort for current and future work.
6. Improve profitability
“The ultimate time tracker! I increased company income with approx 30% after using Timely.”— Goh, advertising consultancy
By recording all work and effort put into a piece of work, time tracking apps help you see if you are over- or under-delivering on a specific project. By making all project work visible, they also allow you to factor in project costs to future rates.
7. Assess client value
“I can see what jobs are profitable and where I should have charged more” – Will, brand strategist
Time tracking apps let you quickly review profitability across all your clients and individual projects, so you can work out which actually brings home the bacon. It’s ideal for understanding all the additional extras that bust budgets, and where you many need to revise expectations or processes with certain clients.
8. Surface overlooked work
“I like that Timely automatically logs everything I do on my computer, even quick things like 2 minutes of email writing (it adds up!). I was really amazed at how much time I was spending on things that I never billed for.” — Kristen, graphic designer
Time tracking apps (especially automatic ones) can help you capture tasks that often go unreported—like travel, internal project communication, task management and meetings. Aside from ensuring you charge clients for all billable work, this provides you with a complete record of the work that goes into your business, which is essential for balancing team priorities, improving internal processes and managing overtime, as well as gauging team utilization.
9. Calculate work rates
“By understanding project task length, I can bill fixed project prices instead of hourly prices.” – Ella, freelance copywriter
By aggregating your time and costs across similar tasks, time tracking apps help you establish fair and profitable rates. It’s especially useful when setting rates for long-term projects and discounts for repeat business.
10. Focus on productive work
“It’s a game changer. By tracking everything we work on automatically, we don’t have to think about time tracking any more—we can just focus 100% on our work.”— Vince, web designer
With intuitive UI, cloud connectivity and often mobile device accessibility, time tracking apps streamline the time tracking process, so teams can spend more mental energy on the important, interesting work. It’s a refreshing contrast to time clocks and timers, which interrupt workflows and force employees to constantly think about the clock. Adding automation into the mix only amplifies this, with teams reporting a 75% reduction in timesheet overhead compared to traditional manual methods.