Billing per hour is a fairly common practice amongst service-focused businesses, freelancers, and even professionals like lawyers and consultants.

However, conventional time tracking methods don't seem to cut it — even more so, when you factor in the operational challenges many professional services and consulting firms encounter.

Studies show that many consultants neither have evidence of cost allocation per project nor have insight into reliable margins per project. What's more, some consultants do not even track profitability per client.

Considering that very few consulting firms make use of some type of time tracking and billing software for consultants, it's also no surprise that most of them do not have evidence аbout billable hours per project.

How Do Consultants Track Their Time?

Time tracking software is the ideal way to gain visibility into the activities of each team member at any moment of the day or week. You can check the productivity and efficiency of projects and tasks or simply gain insight into time consumption per client or overtime reasons. Time tracking software for consultants can provide you with the insight necessary to optimize your business practices.

On a typical time tracker, a consultant, upon logging in to the software, can pick a project, select a task and click “Start.” A timer will then record how long they spend on the job until they manually stop the timer or begin a new task. The time spent on the original task will be logged on their timesheet, where it can be accessed to determine future payment.

While this can be considered the bare minimum for any time tracker out there, the very best employee time tracking software offers much more. Some tools allow users to log future hours, past hours and change previously logged hours. You could even adjust past hours to show you started a project earlier than anticipated and include this for billing purposes.

Many time tracking tools base their recordings entirely on time, that is, 24 daily hours, multiplied by seven days, multiplied by about four weeks, multiplied by 12 months. However, if your company is more focused on production rather than duration, there are tools that can factor in additional data sets. Since this is not a standard feature, not all software offer it, so be sure to ask your prospective vendor if that’s something you require.

Once all of the information is recorded and approved by the system administrators, the data is pushed into invoices, payments services, reports and other areas within the tools. This not only makes human resources (HR) management and billing more manageable but also more automated.

Best Time Tracking App for Small Business

As an owner, whether you believe employee time tracking software for a small business is necessary or not, you can’t deny that time is priceless and productivity is essential. This is where you can take advantage of the best time tracking app. For a small business, time tracking software quickly becomes a crucial tool to improve your company’s key performance indicators (KPIs). A free time tracking app can give you a complete view of your company’s short- and long-term standing and allow you to make adjustments where necessary.

But let’s go back to the original argument for a moment. Say you are a relatively small firm or organization that employs only about five people. It might seem the more productive idea to track everything manually. However, while this might be true short-term, you also need to consider the long-term future of your business. This is where an employee hours tracker can really help boost profitability.

Whether you are an owner or manager of a company, one of your most significant responsibilities is developing your business. So, you may want to make arrangements to deal with scaling, since you definitely won’t be able to manage everything — including spending hours time tracking — by yourself at that point. That’s not the issue, though. You’d also do well to add flexibility to your business and prepare it for significant disruptions, like the current pandemic that continues to ravage many parts of the world, including small and large scale businesses. Let's explore what the best app for tracking work hours looks like in practice for a small business or consultancy.

Time Tracking Software For Employees

If your employees still have to hand in physical timesheets, manually enter hours into a spreadsheet or still use an ancient punch card system, it’s time to go digital.

What if you are struggling with a lack of accountability from employees not being transparent with punching in and out during the workday? How about your payroll process? Has it become inefficient, difficult to review, verify, input, and analyze employee timesheets manually every pay period? Is managing paid and unpaid hours too time-consuming with calculations and spreadsheets?

If handling everything by hand chugs up meaningful work time, investing in time tracking software for employees can help eliminate most of these problems.

Time tracking results in better and more accurate invoices compared to estimating the hours worked after completing the task. As a result, using an employee hours tracker can drastically reduce problems like time theft. Plus, some of the best apps for tracking work hours do so without rounding, which leads to fewer errors.

Time tracking can help you monitor work hours, improve your accuracy and foster loyalty with your clients. You can also better analyze and make smarter business decisions as a result. It is a win-win for all parties.

These are the baseline benefits most companies can expect to enjoy from investing in a time tracking app. However, there’s more.

For starters, it’s not news that using an employee time tracking app reduces your payroll process time by a significant amount. 

Many companies have already made the switch to employee time tracking apps, with more continuing to do so. Looking for a list of time tracking software? Look no further!

Harvest Time Tracking

Harvest is cloud-based time tracking software for businesses. It incorporates timesheet and invoicing features that freelancers and small businesses alike can take advantage of. Some of its other features include schedule, time, expense, and team management.

While people often ask how to use Harvest time tracking, it’s not very different from most options out there. A Harvest time login allows team members to input their week’s hours into a timesheet at a go or record them as they work. It also enables users to turn their timesheets into visual graphs that provide insight into projects and teams.

While the app is great, it does have a few hiccups. One significant issue is the minimal options for billing increments. Currently, Harvest provides increments of 6, 15, 30, and 60 minutes, but many users want more flexibility in this regard.

That said, Harvest is not the only option on the market. Others include Time Doctor, Timely and BigTime.

BigTime is a notable online time and billing software that offers features like DCAA time tracking, expense tracking, billing & invoicing, payment processing, review & approval workflows, reporting & dashboards, mobile access and integrated solutions like project and resource management.

The BigTime SaaS tool is perhaps most well-known for its integration with other platforms like Slack, Google Apps, QuickBooks, Salesforce, and HubSpot, to name a few.

Free Time Tracking Software For Consultants

Time tracking software is crucial for capturing employee time against tasks. In addition, it’s necessary for keeping an accurate record of work time and costs and allowing you to invoice clients correctly, pay your employees, and establish progressive profitability. What's the best free time tracker for consultants? The answer may surprise you.

When just seeking out employee time tracking software, finding free time tracking for consultants may seem like a no-brainer, especially when operating on a budget. But you might want to hold on for a moment, assess the totality of your company’s needs and take note of the software solutions you already have installed. While a lot of free time tracking software for consultants and employees gives you the basic time tracking functionality, if your company requires a more sophisticated option, you may need to go the paid route.

That’s where professional services automation (PSA) software comes in. This software not only offers time tracking but also incorporates an array of project management, invoicing, resource planning, business intelligence and collaboration tools used by many project teams.

BigTime offers an all-in-one solution that will give you a much-needed seamless integration between your various company workflows.

One significant benefit is that it yields a measurable impact on your business performance. That’s right. The automation of each phase of your engagement lifecycle increases your productivity, profitability, and growth margins.

What’s more, by tracking time, budgets, resources, and expenses in one place, you can better stay on top of important business KPIs and ensure things never stray off track. You can even pull customized reports in real-time for your leadership team rather than compiling data from Excel sheets without accuracy.

Another advantage of PSA software is the immediate improvement for your customers. An improved and synchronized internal workflow means that invoices will be processed faster, and projects will be managed better and more accurately. This improvement in your project and business management can positively impact your customer retention, as it enhances their perception of your work quality and professionalism.

Simply put, BigTime’s PSA tool is time tracking, plus so much more.

If you’re still undecided about whether a complete PSA package is for you, request a free BigTime trial where you get to try out the tool to see if it’s the right fit for your firm.