case study

How a Growing Contract Research Organization Manages Time & Projects with actiTIME

Contract Research Organizations (CROs) are companies that offer research-based services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies on a contract basis. These include biopharmaceutical development, biological assay development, clinical and preclinical research, clinical trials, pharmacovigilance, commercialization and post-marketing surveillance. CROs usually support foundations, research institutions, universities, governmental organizations.

Southwood Research is a part of ProPharma Group - a contract research organization, providing regulatory, compliance, pharmacovigilance, and medical information services for pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies. Headquartered in Seer Green, Buckinghamshire, the UK, Southwood Research offers regulatory services to the pharmaceutical and biotech industries.

For this case study, we interviewed Karen Ilsley - an Account Coordinator at Southwood Research who shared her experience of using actiTIME.


— What has been your experience with actiTIME so far?

— Well, actually actiTIME is crucial for us. It’s the way we operate on what’s called the Project Code, so actiTIME votes itself very well for us to be able to manage our time tracking. We are in a service industry, we bill per hour. So it’s really important that whoever works for us and on whatever project can log their time effectively. So at the end of the month, I can pull the reports out and bill our clients accordingly to know how many hours were spent on whatever project. So it works really, really well.

We have to be very diligent on how much we spend every month so that we don’t go over the budget. And actiTIME is just brilliant for easily pulling out reports whenever you need them to just check to see how we are doing.

The Challenge

— What made you decide to implement actiTIME into your company?

— When we first started out, because originally it was a private company and it was set by one person, we could easily manage the time because it was really him only and maybe one other person working and we would just take hours off the invoices that were built by the freelancers. As the company grew, using Excel no longer sufficed and we started to realize that we really need to track the time more effectively and that’s why we went to actiTIME.

We’ve got lots of different clients needing to know how many hours were spent on each bit of the project and things like that. When we became more complex, we needed something better in place of the Excel spreadsheets.

The Solution

Southwood Research uses actiTIME to manage time spent by both in-house staff and freelancers, keep track of the projects’ progress and budgets, and invoice clients based on the tracked time.

— How has actiTIME impacted the way you report back to your clients?

— actiTIME provides more transparency to our customers. Some of the clients now are wanting reports to back up and support the invoices that are sent. So we now put tasks in a particular relevant client and how they want their hours distributed. So some of their projects may have 11 or 12 tasks in there and then people log their time to whatever task they’ve been working on. And then I can run the reports for the client to show who’s worked on what particular part of the project, what they were doing and for how long.

Within one project they might have 5 or 6 different parts of money that have different tasks allocated to each part. They set up a different task on the Project Code so we can track how many hours are spent on each part.

— How has actiTIME impacted your internal reporting and communication?

— I regularly have to report every week to our parent company. I use Staff Performance reports because they want to know how many hours every employee works. So I’ll put in Staff Performance and put in Project name and then it will bring me the week of who works on what project and how many hours. And I also have to do the same report for freelancers.

And another report I have to do is specific to the American side of us where they need to know who’s worked on that particular project. So again on that one I go into Time-Tracking Details, because they need the comments. I open up the spreadsheet and take out the non-billable lines. They have the comments that they obviously need to back up their invoice to their client. Those are the ones that I really use an awful lot.

— What is your favorite feature in actiTIME?

— Comments are very helpful because clients want to know what people are doing on some projects to backup the time they spent. It also helps to summarize the activities they’ve been doing that month, and it helps because you can read the comments of whoever’s been working on that project. So that helps back up as well.


Southwood Research has been using actiTIME for a few years now and still counting.

— For us, actiTIME does absolutely everything we need. It works well on project-based companies. It’s easy to pull out reports, it’s very easy to train people on this - it’s user-friendly. It’s versatile, really. I like the simplicity of actiTIME, I think it’s very simple to use.

Ready to level-up your business with actiTIME?