5 ways your IT company can stop wasting time and resources
Running an IT service company is tough because so many things are crying for your attention at once. You need to choose which ones to focus on carefully.
That’s why your approach to time management needs to be holistic and take into account the interdependencies between your teams.
Here’s everything you need to know about identifying inefficiency and wasted time creeping into your teams (and a few things you can do about that).
Why should you avoid inefficiency at all cost?
This might seem like an obvious point. After all, efficiency is our holy grail across practically every area of our work.
But what does inefficiency even mean in this context?
Before you learn how to eliminate inefficiency, you need to know how to tell it apart from the normal things that happen at the company from time to time.
So, let’s take a look at the most typical symptoms of inefficiency at an IT company like yours:
- Your project managers and teams aren’t 100% sure about who is working on what and for how long (so they constantly ask you about it),
- Your cost estimations aren’t accurate and you’re not getting the profit margins your business needs to grow,
- Problems like double booking, schedule conflicts or lack of resources (=overtime for team members) begin to appear more often,
- Your HR department can only guess what the future project requirements - instead of planning new hires, it scrambles to recruit people last-minute,
What are the consequences of the inefficiencies? Every PPM’s worst nightmares like:
- Wasted money,
- Missed deadlines,
- Poor quality of work,
- General chaos,
- Waste of time (ranging from frequent meetings to your top developers getting assigned to low-priority tasks).
The inefficiencies I listed above affect you and your work directly. You’re the one that has to update managers on allocations or deal with problems like double bookings.
Even one thing on this list is very expensive, and if they’re on your list over the long term, they start getting dangerous for business.
But they also impact your PMs who don’t share a centralized source of updated allocations and instead struggle to keep things in order through siloed spreadsheets. This means adding even more stress to an already stressful job.
Finally, these issues impact your developers as well. If your estimation missed the mark and the project needs more work than you thought, you’ll have to hire someone new. But recruiting specialists takes a lot of time; you probably realize that.
So before a new hire joins your team, you’ll have to cover the extra workload with your existing resources. This means long hours and overtime. No developer can handle that for more than a week or two.
How is inefficiency connected to wasted time?
Now that I covered inefficiency let’s move to a different but closely related issue: wasted time and employee bench.
How are the two connected? It’s pretty simple:
Inefficiency leads to wasted time, and wasted time leads to inefficiency. If you’re dealing with one already, you’re likely to be dealing with the other one soon.
Limited access to information about resources or lack of clarity about who is doing what forces PMs to dedicate lots of time to update their spreadsheets, share them with others, meet others to discuss allocations, and then make adjustments in line with what they discover. Then the cycle starts again, over and over.
This is where inefficiency creeps into your company.
Is there a way to fight it? Start by developing a workflow for all your PMs and get a solution that will serve as a single source of truth for everyone, from managers to employees.
But before you turn to this solution, you need to know what your problem areas are. Without this knowledge, you’ll risk ending up with a tool that doesn’t solve all the most pressing issues.
How to identify and fight inefficiency and wasted time?
1. Start by tracking working time and analyzing it
The best way to spot time waste is by tracking the time people spend on work. Make sure to track both billable and non-billable tasks. Include project standups and client meetings, but also minor tasks, lunch breaks, phone calls, inbox management, and others.
Start with the key employees and gradually introduce the culture of tracking time across your entire company. Eventually, logging tasks and working time in the system will become a standard procedure for everyone, and tracking employee performance will be a piece of cake.
For example, you might discover that your PMs spend way too much time in meetings or on updating their spreadsheets. You’ll identify two problems that could be solved with one thing: a single source of truth that eliminates most meetings dedicated to allocations and definitely eliminates all the individual spreadsheets blocking your big-picture view.
At Primetric, we combined time tracking with resource allocation and financial information to create a comprehensive view into projects:
2. Plan and estimate your project
You can eliminate a lot of potential time-wasters already at the stage of planning the project.
First, you need to create a realistic project budget. Break down your project into tasks and milestones - and then estimate each item on your list, identifying all the labor and materials you’ll need to realize it.
By knowing your expenses, you can set the right rate for your clients and make sure your project is profitable. Make sure to include overhead in the price you set for billable hours.
Learn more about the art of budgeting here: How to manage project budget effectively if you’re an IT service company
3. Plan tentative projects
PMs often do resource planning for future projects at the last minute. But it pays to start planning and allocating employees even before signing the contract.
Why? Because then you get a head start on planning your project and win back lots of time to address the project's resource requirements. You won't have to worry about last-minute hires jeopardizing the quality of your project's outcome.
Our guide to resource planning in project management explores this in more detail.
This is planning tentative projects in Primetric looks like:
4. Allocate resources like a pro
Make sure you have comprehensive visibility of your resources before making any allocation moves.
Otherwise, you might end up wasting your precious talents on projects that have a lower margin. Or worse - hire your most expensive resources for a project that doesn’t require their level of expertise or the client has a very tight budget.
Pro tip: If you consider raising your rates or you know that you will need more skilled employees in a couple of months, consider launching an employee development program to avoid a costly hiring process.
Consider people’s abilities, competencies, and planned or tentative reservations before allocating them. If you have a system that displays everything at a glance, getting it done will be a matter of minutes, not hours.
5. Track and monitor your resources
Start tracking your resource utilization rate right after the project begins. You'll be able to see how your estimations are working in real life, spot any inconsistencies right away, and take action.
For instance, you may have underestimated the number of hours needed to complete a project phase, or someone may have forgotten to log time (believe me, that happens!).
How project management software helps to save time and avoid inefficiencies
- It’s a single source of truth for all the stakeholders - no more useless meetings where you only discuss who is doing what, when, and for how long. All of this information is now locked into one system that all your PMs can access. The icing on the cake? All the data are updated in real time.
- No more repetitive work - your PMs will no longer waste time on filling out manual timesheets or reporting on what was completed that day. And you won’t have to waste your time compiling all of their data together to gain a bird’s eye view of what’s really happening in the projects.
- Automated, modern process - planning and tracking projects in spreadsheets are just inefficient. It’s also time-consuming, expensive, and more likely to cause trouble because of human-made mistakes. Remove spreadsheets from the equation and bet on project management software to modernize and fool-proof your process.
- Better decision-making - not having access to the right data can cause managers to make poor decisions or take too long to make them. A project management solution empowers them to take action backed by data-driven insights.
And it really works. Take the Australian IT company HSD as an example. By implementing Primetric, managers reduce the time for allocating people to projects and generating data from spreadsheets from 15 hours a week to 30 seconds, leading to a $200,000 increase in savings and earnings per year.
See how project management software can help eliminate wasted time and inefficiency. Book a demo of Primetric to learn more.