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Of all the resources that organizations have at their disposal, the most invaluable is time. Time is limited. Every day, an organization has only a set number of hours for their work. Despite this, most organizations fail at leveraging time to its full potential. Inefficiency workflows, poor project prioritization, and other issues can add up leading to a significant amount of wasted time throughout the year. All of that can cost organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As time is directly tied to an organization’s costs and billables, using this resource intelligently can improve the overall productivity and profitability. Therefore, companies must make it a priority to invest in proper time management and time tracking to leverage the limited time they have. Of course, to make the most of their time, organizations must first learn how they are losing it and start managing time as an asset. With that in mind, here are 5 of the biggest reasons for losing time and how you can fix it.
Lack of a Clear Project Structure
All projects are bound by time and resources. If a team begins to work on a project without a clear understanding of project requirements, deliverables and other details, things quickly spiral out of control. A properly planned project structure ensures that all tasks and activities are allotted to the right people, allowing them to be completed within the specified timelines. Without this structure, the organization may end up stretching their deadline as they struggle to complete the project.
Example of a Proper Project Structure
To avoid these issues, organizations must work to standardize project planning across their enterprise. A standard structure makes it easier for employees to keep track of all tasks as well as the time required to complete them. When you get employees to track time accurately, it becomes easier to monitor the progress of each task and project along with time spent. Using a project time tracking system will also provide visibility into overall project time, allowing project managers to make changes on the fly and keep the project on track.
Poor Project Prioritization
At any given time, a project-based organization will have multiple projects running concurrently. These projects will have their own resource requirements, deadlines, and deliverables. They will also impact the strategic objectives of the organization differently. As such, they cannot have the same priority. Despite this, it is not uncommon for firms to push most of their projects under the same degree of priority and that ends up causing a significant loss of time. Poor prioritization can even lead to project failure and, as a result, missed business objectives. After all, the firm is ending up spending their valuable time on projects that ultimately do not benefit them in the long run.
The solution to this problem is strategic prioritization. A McKinsey study revealed that organizations that invest in the strategic prioritization of their projects can deliver 40% in value. Moreover, it will also increase the chances of the projects being completed on time and on budget. No longer will organizations need to waste time on projects that ultimately do not benefit them. Instead, they can leverage their time on projects that help them achieve their long-term strategic goals.
Too Many Meetings
A study conducted by Atlassian discovered that employees, on average, spend 31 hours every month on meetings. In the same study, half of the respondents considered meetings to be the biggest waste of time at their offices. One of the issues with meetings is that they are rarely ever short. Moreover, if an hour is allotted for meetings then the participants are more than likely to use the full hour even if the agenda is a short one. There is also an issue with attendance as it is common that not all participants invited to a meeting really need to be there. As noted in the Atlassian study, US businesses spend $37 billion on unnecessary meetings.
As meetings are a massive time sink, it is essential for organizations to consider alternatives to reduce the waste of time. Emails can be a better option particularly for meetings with a couple of points in the agenda. However, care must be taken not to overload employees with emails as that can also cause them to lose valuable time. Organizations should also consider improving workflow processes to reduce the time spent in a meeting.
Supervision of employees is to be expected if an organization wants to streamline project execution. However, excessive and intrusive supervision results in several issues, one of which is a loss of time. At its worst, intrusive supervision means that two people are performing a single task. For employees, they are forced to spend more time on a task as they have to constantly explain their work and get it reviewed by their supervisor. Moreover, it is also a loss of time for the supervisors. After all, they could have better spent their time on leading the team and supporting the overall work instead of focusing on one task.
Intrusive supervision must be tackled at an organizational level by educating managers, supervisors and others in leadership positions. They must learn the drawbacks to such a management style and encourage a more collaborative and constructive environment. The choice of project tool can also play an important role here. Tools that automatically notify managers and supervisors about their team’s times, budgets and other project metrics will be preferable. This limits the need for intruding upon the employee’s time to get the same details.
Another major culprit of time loss in an organization is inefficient emailing practices. A study by Atlassian revealed that, on average, an employee receives 304 emails every week. This is a major issue since the same study notes that employees spend 16 minutes on average to refocus after tackling incoming emails. Moreover, due to the huge volume of emails, it is a struggle for employees to search for the right email. Email conversations also end up eating away at the productive hours of those involved.
Solving this problem requires an overhaul of the organization’s existing policies around emails. Steps must be taken to streamline email workflows to minimize inbox burden, which can save several hours every week. For example, a lot of time is wasted on conversations around time tracking against tasks and projects, especially if manual methods like spreadsheets are used. By implementing a cloud-based time tracking platform, it is possible to minimize or even eliminate those conversations. After all, it will be possible to leverage approval workflows and validation rules to automatically alert managers about entries and keep the data accurate.
Ultimately, loss of time is loss of revenue for any organization. Implementing processes to minimize those losses is critical for improving the bottom line in the long run. The ideal workflows will ensure that the right people are notified about tasks, deadlines and other important details in a timely manner. This will help in preventing loss of time in unnecessary activities such as excessive supervision, meetings, or checking emails.
Making these changes will also help in future proofing the organization, making it more resilient and efficient. Implementing advanced tools such as project time tracking systems will not only prevent loss of time but also add to the overall digitization efforts of the organization. Considering how workplaces are evolving, these changes will ultimately help the organization to stay profitable and productive.