Time Managers or Time Travellers?
In retail everyone knows that stock is important. Each item is logged into a system as it is received into the store, it’s tagged and priced. When it is sold, the tag is removed and the stock item deducted from inventory. Stock losses are serious. Detectors by the doors alert the staff if someone walks out with a tagged item that is not paid for. Inventory is precious. Inventory management and control is paramount.
The facts today are that most people don’t work in retail. We don’t all sell stuff. Most people don’t make stuff either. We don’t all work in manufacturing.
Most people now work in non-inventory based businesses.
Some are in government, education or health. But the majority are in commercial jobs. Most people are now service workers, preparing your company’s end of year tax returns, repairing faulty wiring in your house, managing the promotion of a product or brand, or designing an office block.
They need little or no stock to put together what they’re selling. And the deliverable itself is not an inventory item. They deliver their expertise. Most of their invoice is for the value of their time.
Yes, that’s right, they’re invoicing for time. They each have certain areas of expertise and it is effectively delivered and sold minute by minute.
The irony is, that while the salaries are higher than staff in retail stores, and customer service is no less important, many don’t have a time based billing system, unlike retailers or manufacturers who always have an inventory based billing system.
For all their professionalism, many don’t have time management systems at all. They get by with spreadsheets or in some extreme cases, nothing at all when asked how they’re managing and accounting for their most valuable item; time.
There are lots of reasons for this. One is that accounting systems are often inventory based, not time based. Another is that spreadsheets are so easy to use. You can feel you’re getting on top of things if you build a spreadsheet. Therefore many time based business end up with hundreds of spreadsheets.
The result is that many professional services businesses of all sizes run with significant write-offs. This is where the value recovered is less than the value of time put into the work, based on everyone’s nominal rate. In many professional services offices this write-off is in excess of 25%. Their most valuable product, time, is leaking out the door as certainly as retail stores suffer from pilfering.
If this is you, it could be that amongst all the BUSYNESS you're forgetting about the first rule of your BUSINESS;
Time really is money!
It doesn’t have to be difficult to plan and manage your company time in the same way as a retail store plans and manages its inventory. The benefit of a dedicated time management system is that a task with an honest 12 hour budget is much more likely to be completed in 12 hours instead of 20. As a bonus, another task you were hoping to get done doesn’t have 8 hours stolen from it by the first one over-running it’s budget. It too can be finished this week instead of next. Woo hoo!
A second benefit is that when it comes to invoicing, if the time is being managed, you’re not agonising over what to bill. And the invoice can be generated as you want it, with a single click.
Just as a shop assistant can look up a stock item if queried, you’ve got the answers right there in your time management system if you receive a query or need to answer something for yourself. You’re not on the back foot.
In fact in any non-inventory based business, time management i.e. planning and managing time, is important.
Wow, this half day staff training session has taken me 30 hours to prepare not the 20 hours I planned for. I can learn from this and budget more time next time.
You can only do that if you’re managing actual time vs planned time. If not, you’re none the wiser.
Everybody still has their coffee breaks. Nobody’s exhausted or over-worked. Everybody wins. Your time management system is the hero.
How are you managing in this area? Your comments and thoughts are most welcome.
You only get one go in life.
Contact us any time to discuss what we can do to help you. We’ll be pleased to respond.
Don’t waste any more time!!!
The Abtrac team are writers, designers, engineers, consultants and analysts. Together we dream, build and deliver an amazing software solution for professional services.