10 Ways of Getting Through Tough Times in Business with actiTIME

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September 2022
10 Ways of Getting Through Tough Times in Business with actiTIME

Any business goes through turbulent times at least once. And if your business ever went through one, you can confidently say that it had transformed your business and made it more resilient. If you are reading this, it’s time to review the way your business operates and build a solid foundation that no shifting grounds will shake loose.

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford

Today’s businesses operate in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment (the VUCA world) that you can’t control. In times of turbulence, insecurity and unpredictability grow, people involved become polarized and unreasonable and it’s time that managers and executives mobilize their resources and lead their businesses through change. Let’s see 10 tips on how you can turn a business downturn into an opportunity.

1. Track Your Resources in Real Time

First things first, track your key resources – time and money. If you’ve never done this before or you did as a mere formality, it’s time to tighten the belt and get your business resources under control.

Get your teams to track their working time across tasks and projects, set up work and billing rates and do the math. Implementing and executing these processes might be hard and painful in many ways but it pays off. Resource analytics will reveal unprofitable projects and ineffective employees that you need to let go when things get rough.

actiTIME reports and widgets

Reports dashboard in actiTIME – set up real-time data widgets
and add report shortcuts for quick access

2. Practice Data-Driven Agility

Navigating the uncertainty requires you to be lean, smart and agile. The agility approach is marked by rapid iterations, performance orientation, flexible resource allocation and automating tools that eliminate paperwork and streamline processes.

“Agility is the ability of an organization to renew itself, adapt, change quickly, and succeed in a rapidly changing, ambiguous, turbulent environment.” – Aaron De Smet for McKinsey

Break your projects into short work sprints, prioritize the activities inside them and assign them across your team, measure their time and cost-effectiveness and move on with a new chunk of work designed in accordance with the changed circumstances.

Law Firm Billing Summary report in actiTIME

Billing Summary report in actiTIME – set up work rates
and get the software to calculate the billable amounts

3. Increase Project Profitability

One of the key project management metrics to look out for in a business is project profitability – the ability of a project to yield a financial profit for your company. Regular profitability analysis helps you identify unprofitable tasks and projects and look into ways to improve it.

If you have time and project management software in place, you can identify unprofitable activities early on and use other reports and insights to find the best solution in your situation. These may include improving team productivity, increasing employee utilization, raising the cost of your services and even cutting unprofitable clients and projects.

Profit Loss report in actiTIME

Profit/Loss reports in actiTIME that calculates leave and overtime costs
based on work and billing rates

4. Minimize Project Costs

Another way to increase project profitability and help the business to get through tough times is to shorten the project’s duration: the faster you finish it, the less it costs you and the more profit the company gets. Even a single percentage point can make a difference, so one of your key objectives is to keep the project costs as low as possible.

One of the ways to do that is to track project progress, identify and deal with bottlenecks early on. Bottlenecks cause interruptions to the flow of work and delays across the production process, bloating the project cost. Review project activities on a Kanban board, put limits on the work-in-progress activities and check out the project schedule to avoid delays and cost overruns.

Kanban board in actiTIME

Kanban board in actiTIME displaying custom workflow statuses
and actual time vs. estimated time

5. Reduce Overtime

Encouraging overtime work is a good practice when you need to reduce project time using the same workforce at the cost of overtime hours and pay. But when a business goes through tough times, every penny matters and overtime benefits don’t look beneficial to the business.

The thing is that every overtime hour means about 50% higher project costs resulting in lower profits. If you have enough workforce and the project fits its schedule, consider changing the overtime policy. In challenging circumstances, you will likely want to treat overtime as the exception, not the rule.

Time Balance & Overtime report in actiTIME

Time Balance & Overtime report in actiTIME
revealing employees working overtime and their overtime hours

6. Improve Project Planning

Another great tip on getting through tough times in business is to master estimation. When project activities take longer than documented in the project schedule, deadlines shift, project costs bloat, customers become less satisfied with your services and your company generates less profit.

Working agile in short sprints proves the most efficient management strategy in turbulent times. But these bursts of effort should also be prioritized, estimated and planned, just like any project. To create workable estimates, you need to look at your past estimate accuracy, learn from it, take risks into account and elaborate or validate team estimates for even better accuracy.

Estimated vs Actual time report in actiTIME

Estimated vs. Actual Time report in actiTIME displaying the variance
between the estimated time and the actual time expenses

7. Enhance Team Performance

Improving team performance with time tracking is one of the most unobvious but very effective means of generating more revenue. Numerous studies and actiTIME’s case studies prove that time tracking enhances team performance and there are many reasons for that:

  • Employees see their task progress and deadlines and feel more responsible for delivering them on time
  • Time tracking gives employees more autonomy and ownership over their work
  • With time trackers, employees keep their priorities in check
  • Employees collaborate and support each other using comments and pushing their tasks down the workflow so that everyone can finish their work on time
  • Time tracking prevents multitasking

This is not a complete list of time tracking benefits. So, to make your teams more organized and improve their performance, we recommend implementing time tracking software.

For example, with actiTIME, you get a powerful and simple-to-use online timesheet interface where your employees can enter hours manually, add time entry notes, track leave time, review the estimates and deadlines of their tasks, discuss them in comments and more. To manage time and tasks on the go, you can use a free actiTIME app. Or, if you prefer automated time tracking, try the actiTIME browser extension and choose from 5,000+ Zapier integrations.

Online timesheet interface in actiTIME where every user can select task parameters
they want to see in their timesheets

8. Save Up With Project-Based Workers

Your team may become understaffed during turbulent times for various reasons. The good news is that you can deliver projects on time with fewer project costs using project-based staff. Full-time employees induce significant financial commitments, from salaries and employee benefits to permanent equipment, while project-based workers are only paid for the quantifiable work they do.

Managing project-based workers is easy: you give them tasks, specify work duration and the success criteria and record their working hours. These employees are often paid by the hour, so you need time tracking data to generate accurate payrolls.

Cost of Work report in actiTIME

Cost of Work report in actiTIME calculating cost of work of individual users
based on their hourly rates

9. Go Remote to Cut Overhead

The remote work trend became a new norm at the dawn of the COVID-pandemic and revealed that employees can work from home as efficiently as they do from the office. This global lesson is your chance to cut overhead costs, including the costs of office space, internet, cleaning services, electricity, water and equipment.

Global Workplace Analytics found that businesses can cut up to $11,000 in expenses per employee every year just by allowing them to work from home half the time, not to mention getting rid of physical workspaces completely. Use this money wisely – invest in proper project management software – it will cost the business a tiny part of your overhead savings.

Work Assignments interface in actiTIME

Work Assignments interface in actiTIME where you can see employee capacity
and manage their workload online

10. Take Advantage of Automation & Alerts

To make the most of resources management in your company, you need to keep track of many things: employees submit their data on time, ongoing projects don’t go over their budget or schedule, the project costs and profits ratio is within the reasonable limit to keep the business going.

Luckily, there are automated time and cost management systems that send personal reminders and notify managers about different events such as upcoming deadlines, worked-out task estimates, overrun project budgets or any other custom events. All you need to do is to set up a system, invite your team and you are ready to go.

Customizable notifications in actiTIME

Customizable notifications in actiTIME – specify events
that you want actiTIME to notify you and others about

Embrace Change With Confidence, Patience & Grace

Getting through tough times in business is never easy, but it’s always an opportunity to transform and become something new. We encourage you to practice data-driven agility and implement change in small steps. To navigate through turbulence with confidence and patience, we recommend implementing a time and cost tracking system where you can manage work, projects, payrolls and costs in a single system.

Start with a robust solution with an established presence on the market like actiTIME.

Getting through tough times in business with actiTIME - time tracking software

actiTIME combines flexibility and simplicity – a rare mix of benefits that allows businesses to fine-tune the software for their industry needs and requires zero training. Build custom work structures and workflows, get your team to manage their work and track their hours, use data widgets and reports to evaluate business efficiency and manage work and teams on the go with a mobile app. Try actiTIME for free using a free 30-day trial (no credit card required).

Ready for getting through tough times in business? Start tracking time and costs with actiTIME – it’s free!

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