The following text is an interview with Warren Peacock of Scoutwest, Inc. They are the developers of Standard Time® and Standard Issue® – two leading project management products. Project Team Blog wanted to hear from an authority regarding the status quo of enterprise project tracking and management, and learn what consulting and manufacturing companies face when attempting detailed time tracking. We’re talking full-blown project schedules, timesheets to track task status, resource allocation, employee status, detailed reporting services – the whole enchilada. Are most companies using these tools? Or, do they attempt to roll their own with little in-house apps and spreadsheets? Does the economy have a bearing on these choices? One thing is certain; Warren Peacock has heard it all. Let’s see what he has to say.
Q: Warren, would you say most organizations are doing an excellent, poor, or fair job of tracking project status?
A: Based on my experience I would say they are doing a poor-to-fair job, though well intended.
Q: What tools are they using now?
A: Some are using actual time tracking tools like Standard Time. However, most companies are using Excel, shareware, or shabby little in-house programs.
Q: Where do you see room for improvement?
A: One word…Efficiency. Time is our most valuable commodity and success starts with improving our use of it, regardless of the industry.
Q: Aside from acquiring better tools for project tracking, what are the other ongoing costs of tracking projects and employee status?
A: Lost billable hours, unfortunately this is very common. Also, which employees are most productive? Standard Time has one simple report that gives you that type of data. If you need to streamline costs where do you start, what do you cut? Again, the right tools can give you that detail. They will show you where you spend time as an organization. What areas are over, or under allocated. All of this is just a glimpse of improving efficiencies with project management and associated costs.
Q: And the return on investment for these tools? How do you get there?
A: That sounds complicated, yet is very simple. Most consultants and business owners I speak with estimate they are losing anywhere from 3%-10% of their billable hours. Without question a conservative estimate is 1-3 hours per week, per employee. Multiply that times their billing rate and you quickly realize how fast a time tracking tool like Standard Time pays for itself. Not to mention the loads of reports and other information available to help guide any number of key decisions, regarding customers, projects and employees. We don’t think twice about spending money on an employee’s phone, computer and any number of other items. Time tracking is just as important.
Q: Let’s talk low-hanging fruit… What can a company do to get started cheaply? Spreadsheets? Paper time cards? Smoke signals?
A: Spreadsheets work to a certain point, but again the time spent managing, compiling and crafting reports will eat an employee’s productivity and provide very basic information at best. Standard Time is less than $150 per user and easy to use. You can place it on your own computers or we can host it for you. No installation necessary. Employees can be shown the basics in 5 minutes, no down time, no compiling spreadsheets and less user error! Instantly you have more accurate information that will help propel and streamline any organization.