Are you thinking about changing out your time tracking, quoting, or sales system? Are your computer systems one of the top complaints of your staff? Maybe you are using spreadsheets for estimates that you put together years ago? There’s a lot of good systems out there and endless salespeople to educate you on them.
In the long run, they probably will save you money by reducing office work and providing more accurate estimates. Integrating quotes or estimates with your job cost system will help you manage costs and improve your estimates. That’s the long-term benefit but are you considering the short-term costs?
To keep the story simple let’s assume you want to increase accountability in your organization. Recently morale and productivity have been declining. You decide that by implementing a work order system, you’ll be able to know what everyone is doing and keep them on task.
According to the vendor, the new system will provide reports showing estimated time verse actual time for each order. It’ll work with a smartphone, so there is no requirement to purchase tablets or computers for your staff, it’s simple to use, you verified that yourself. Accept the work order, start the clock and stop the clock when finished, simple right?
After the first week, you start looking at the data, and it shows some 2-hour tasks took days and some 3-days tasks took no time at all. You make a few phone calls inquiring about specific work orders and find out the work order that took three days actually took 4 hours, but the clock wasn’t stopped at the end of the job. They remembered to fix the work order when they did their time sheet at the end of the week. And the jobs that took no time at all, same story but the other way around, someone didn’t remember to start to the clock, so they started and stopped the clock at the end of the job.
This isn’t working out as expected, but the good news is the jobs aren’t time and materials, so it’s not causing a billing problem. The bad news is this isn’t as simple as you thought, it’s clear your staff doesn’t want you to know exactly how long they took to do a job. They liked things better when you told them the objective, and they told you when they were done. They don’t see the need for change after all its not benefiting them.
You call the vendor because it doesn’t seem like you could be the only one who encountered this issue. Others must have faced the same problem, surely the salesperson will have a good solution. It turns out they don’t have a quick, easy solution, no other customer is using the system like you, according to the salesperson all the other customers pay their employees based on the time they log against the tickets, in fact, most bill their customers based on the time logged against a ticket, the salesperson can’t recall another customer whose using it to track estimated time against actual but it should work fine, just tell your employees to do it, they work for you, don’t they?
Would you like to know how this ends? How to create a culture of accountability in your firm? Find out in part 2!
In the meantime, don’t overlook other ways that you can improve your business: