Time tracking software for consultants is essential for managing time on a project basis. With the right software, consultants can effectively capture and track project-related time information, which maximizes profitability and manages resources appropriately.

Robust time tracking software does not just allow consultants to keep track of the number of hours worked on a particular project. Time tracking for consultants can also provide transparency into your work processes, offering insights into the projects that team members are working on, their duration, and the tasks that often get neglected.

When employees are accustomed to using time tracking software, a firm can expect increased accountability and billing accuracy. The right time tracking software also helps improve operational efficiency and makes billing – and getting paid – automatic.

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Common Challenges Facing Consultants

Consulting firms, along with most professional, managed, IT, and embedded services firms continue to face challenges driven by the pandemic and changes brought with it. For example, remote work is here to stay and that means many consultants must continue to find ways to serve clients successfully in a virtual capacity. In a tight labor market, there is also continued pressure to keep a remote or hybrid workforce engaged, connected and productive.

In addition, services firms have long experienced challenges with accurate and prompt billing. It can be difficult to gain visibility into employees’ billable hours, especially when consultants are working remotely or working on site at client locations. The challenge is to ensure that all billable hours are reported accurately and in a way that makes it quick and easy to bill clients promptly and get paid.

Finally, consultants are always seeking new ways to improve operational efficiency. Understanding the productivity of employees is crucial for pinpointing operational weaknesses and working to improve them. Time tracking software for consultants is a tool that can not only keep track of hours worked, but also demonstrates each individual contributor’s productivity level, as well as the productivity of the entire organization.

How Time Tracking for Consultants Can Help

The right time tracking software helps consultants overcome the challenges of managing and engaging far-flung workers, while also speeding up the process of billing clients and getting paid. Typically, consultants work independently, traveling to customer sites and working remotely. As a result, they need efficient tools that let them provide updates on their work efforts whether they are at a desk or in transit, and while working on multiple customer engagements at the same time.

The right time tracking software for consultants can make it easy and effortless for individuals to report their time. A robust software tool can provide individual consultants with a visible, searchable way to easily report time spent on several types of work. Any supplemental information should also be available easily. If the information is not visible, there should be an efficient way for an individual to quickly see the additional information to confirm the right activity to track their time against.

To increase individual time reporting, a suitable time tracking solution also ensures that hours are captured in an efficient way so that you can bill clients as quickly as possible. If the individuals do not like using the tool and find it cumbersome, they will procrastinate and that results in less accurate reporting, resulting in delayed billing and potential lost revenue.

Software that allows users to input their time via mobile, browser or tablet can optimize each user’s experience and minimize the back-and-forth between the individual, project manager and finance department before the client can be billed. The ability to use multiple platforms also lets the user provide information with greater accuracy, which makes it easier to bill clients accurately and efficiently.

Read next: 10 Must-Have Professional Services Automation Software Features

Client projects with time tracking software provide on-track alignment to diverse ways of working.
Client projects with time tracking software provide on-track alignment to diverse ways of working.

Do You Need An End-To-End PSA Solution?

While standalone time tracking apps can offer the basics of keeping up with employee hours, a comprehensive PSA software solution can take time tracking to a new level. A time tracking tool that is integrated into a full PSA solution provides more engagement flexibility with continued integrity while ensuring that consultants accurately track time to the correct activity. As a result, organizations can quickly and efficiently transfer billable work to client invoices with fewer review cycles needed, and get invoices paid faster.

According to the 2022 SPI Maturity Benchmark Report:

“PSA is typically the system of record for resource skills, competencies and preferences with integration to the employee and contractor database. It is used to collect time and expense by project and resource down to the task level, so it is the system of record for resource utilization and project cost and estimating.”

Many consulting firms provide a wide range of types of work and consultant resources and tracking time and expense for all the different tasks and staffers, along with varying contract terms for different clients, can be tricky. When time tracking software for consultants is integrated into a full PSA solution, it can intuitively match tasks, people, and contract terms to ensure proper billing for each project.

Time tracking tools that do not include integrated contract and project plan connections lack the work efforts and associated financial relationship needed to foster integrity and efficiency that can speed up payment. A PSA application can provide more financial structure and integrity with a big-picture view that includes contract details, downstream project plans and individual activities that, assigned to individual workers, creates the appropriate financial billing relationship.

Top 9 Features You Will Need

Ready to find time tracking software for consultants that can keep your team on track and simplify time and expense management to speed up billing and payment? Look for a solution that will include these nine vital features.

Comprehensive, intuitive, and detailed timesheets that reflect lifecycle billing expectations for consultants

Look for a solution that includes intuitive digital timesheets. A simple, feature-rich time tracking app with a mobile option and time tracking reminders can take the workload off the user and help facilitate user adoption.

With detailed, digital timesheets, workers can show exactly how and where they’re spending their time—and project leaders can easily see where time is being spent and how to focus on the right work and make better resource allocation decisions.

Intuitive workflows and pre-population of workstream/hours information that is OBS defined

It’s important to utilize time tracking software that can show you how much time is being spent on innovative projects versus maintenance work, to keep the business focused on value and outcomes. The right solution will allow you to provide approved categories to which resources can track their hours.

Prepopulated work tasks and intuitive workflows can make it easy for leaders to understand where resources are spending their time. As a result, they can make informed decisions about how to concentrate that time on projects that align with strategic objectives of the business.

Workstream inherits financial information

For most projects, the workstream involves various tasks that must be completed by various teams and individuals progressively to reach project completion. Each of the components of the workstream should be aligned with organizational KPIs.

When your time tracking software for consultants in integrated with a full PSA solution, each workstream and its associated tasks can be intuitively tied to business operations. Without any manual effort, all those tasks and workstreams can be properly automated to successfully complete billing, utilization, and analytics. Automatic integration of workstreams and financial information can help ensure success for both the customer and the consulting firm.

Embedded workflows to ensure appropriate review

A robust PSA solution that includes time tracking software for consultants will also embed reporting and analytics within the application. Embedded reporting will alert decision makers to potential issues before they become a problem.

In addition, for embedded workflows, the right solution will require approval and escalations where necessary to ensure financial integrity for billing and internal KPIs.

Read next: Guide to Professional Services Automation and PSA Software

Business audit capabilities to ensure that changes are documented for review, approval, and escalation

The right time tracking software for consultants will include business audit capabilities. That way, when something changes, such as project scope, time horizon, or number of resources on site, the software can automatically document those changes and route them for review, approval, and escalation.

A software solution that is intuitive to business priorities and shifts can help keep workers on task and keep the business on track to meet goals, while routinely managing time and expenses.

Inherent productivity management KPI’s are available through lifecycle financial and business rates

The lifecycle of financial and business rates should also include data and metrics to ensure that each employee and the organization achieves productivity and profitability. The right software solution can integrate productivity management KPIs to help keep your workers and your organization on track.

Automation in relation to time approved and invoice generation

The best solution for time tracking doesn’t stop with simply tracking consultants’ hours. It will also automate the processes that need to come next, such as sending the time report to the appropriate manager to be approved, and after approval, compiling time reports to generate an invoice.

Automated processes can shorten the time between work completion and billing. With real-time executive visibility of PSA software as a solution, executives do not have to wait until the end of the month or billing cycle to audit the billings to determine whether there are KPI discrepancies or anomalies.

Contract and resource-based rules that ensure automated downstream time capture and financial integrity

The right time tracking solution will include contract- and resource-based rules that can make it easy to understand where resources are spending their time and concentrate that time on projects that align with strategic objectives of the business.

By integrating customized rules, the software can ensure that time is captured automatically and that all billable hours will be billed. Appropriate time tracking makes it possible to consider employees’ real workload and ensure that they are not overloaded with the work they are assigned.

Dynamic experiences (mobile, desktop, and tablet)

Consultants have long worked with far-flung teams, and that trend may even become more widespread I the near future. Even as offices reopen following the pandemic, remote work will continue to be mainstream for many organizations. At the same time, as many offices reopen, more consultants are returning to on-site projects and regular traveling.

You need time tracking software for consultants that will be easy to use, wherever your workers are located. A solution that provides mobile, desktop and tablet experiences can allow remote and traveling consultants to efficiently provide their hours to the organization, ensuring timely billing and KPI management.

Time and Expense Management Software vs. Time Tracking Software

Before we wrap up this topic, let’s visit the topic of time and expense management software vs. time tracking software: Are they the same or different?

Time and expense management software and time tracking software for consultants both make it possible for individuals to track and report their work hours, but that is where the similarities end.

Time tracking software only provides basic time reporting, but time and expense management software provides a more robust solution that includes automated approvals and invoicing to speed up the billing process.

A full-time and expense management solution also provides embedded workflows, analytics, and productivity KPIs to go beyond time tracking and improve the business and its bottom line.

Go Beyond Basic Time Tracking

Tracking consultants’ hours and project progress is a vital task for staying on top of billing and project management. But when that task is integrated into a comprehensive PSA software solution, it can provide a wealth of insights that can propel your consultancy to the next level of productivity and profitability.

Planview offers a truly robust, comprehensive PSA software solution that goes beyond simple time tracking software for consultants; it also offers the capability to make projects and resources immediately visible, simplifying an organization’s ability to make informed decisions, boost productivity and speed up the billing process.

Learn more about Planview’s PSA software solution by requesting a demo.