1. Online timesheets are about more than time. They’re really about data.
Brian Saunders, CEO of BigTime Software knows a thing or two about online timesheets. When asked why we even bother to track time he said, “It’s because the stuff on a timesheet is really data. And the whole point of tracking time is to collect this data and then use it to make better business decisions.”
As the owner of his own IT consulting firm Saunders was frustrated with the time tracking problem, its lack of connection to business processes and the absence of insight into his firm’s performance. It was a classic case of profound irritation that prompted the development of a software solution. The solution became the time billing software company BigTime.
2. Online Timesheets Reveal Your Firm’s Position in Relationship to Time.
Back to BigTime CEO Brian Saunders. “When you first start a firm you’re small, you know everybody, you know what everyone is working on. But as you succeed and hire more people you know less and less about what’s actually going on. You feel lost. And that’s disturbing.”
Navigating Your Relationship to Time through Treacherous Waters
The relationship between time and the navigation of dangerous waters, business or seafaring, is not a new challenge. In her book The Longitude Dava Sobel wrote, “Thousands of sailors’ lives, and the increasing fortunes of nations, hung on the resolution of this 18th century problem of longitude — the inability to know the time aboard ship in relationship to the time at the home port or another place of known longitude.
To convey the gravity of the longitude problem Sobel explains, “Every hour’s discrepancy between the ship’s clock to local noon translates into another 15 degrees. Those same 15 degrees of longitude correspond to a distance traveled. At the Equator, where the girth of the Earth is greatest, 15 degrees stretch fully one thousand miles.”
Mobile Time Tracking Apps as the 21st-century Chronometer
Lacking the ability to measure longitude, sailors throughout the great ages of exploration had been literally lost at sea as soon as they lost sight of land. After almost 35 years and 4 prototypes later, John Harrison’s mechanical chronometer solved the longitude problem in 1762.
Professional service firms had to wait a bit longer before the cloud and mobile timesheet apps could show the relationship between time and activity and the firm’s position in terms of profitability.
3. An Online Timesheet is Data. 12 Million Timesheets are Big Data.
In a blog post for Forbes titled Big Data: It’s Not a Buzzword, It’s a Movement, Silicon Valley venture capitalists Sanjeev and Sandeep Sardana interviewed Mayank Bawa, co-president and co-founder of Teradata Aster. He had this to say.
“By processing secondary research, organizations can extract business intelligence from already collected data. This data repurposing can provide important insights for a company despite the fact it may be an unintended consequence.”
Time Billing Software to Insightful Analysis of Big Data
Five years ago, BigTime CEO Brian Saunders probably wouldn’t have guessed that his company would be part of the Big Data movement. “You don’t start out saying ‘I’m going to develop a set of data that I can use to help professional firms run more effectively,’” he said. “You head out in one direction, and keep an eye out for potential value.”
Saunders continues, “The thing that makes Big Data so compelling is that cloud companies, like BigTime, have created multi-tenant data warehouses. It’s really a gold mine of information that has the potential to help our customer base elevate their business in a way that they couldn’t if they were on their own.”
BigTime Conducts Research Study of 12 Million Timesheets
The BigTime study is unique in ways beyond its economic valuation of timesheet data. The scale of the project, analysis of 12 million timesheets, has not been undertaken before.
When asked why BigTime invested the resources in undertaking the study, Chairman John Howell explained, “Our purpose has always been to help our professional service firm customers be more profitable. This research is consistent with that philosophy. It’s another way that we can leverage the data our software captures to help our customers, and the industry at large, achieve greater economic success.”
Howell points out that the study is also about “metadata” which is “data about data”. For example, the data in timesheets consists of hours worked on behalf of a client. The metadata in timesheets tells you when the timesheet was completed, submitted and approved. Metadata can be extremely valuable in guiding business decisions.
If you find yourself dismissing the value of the online timesheet, stop long enough to remember that your time tracking software is collecting data, the information you need to run a more profitable firm.
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BigTime Software delivers real-time, metrics-driven time tracking, billing and project management for more than 2,000 professional firms, tracking over $2 billion (USD) worth of billable time each year.