A working time audit involves tracking and analysing what you spend your working time on for a number of consecutive days. This can help managers and business owners to schedule tasks efficiently, accomplish targets, and boost productivity.
But what exactly is a working time audit and how do you perform it effectively?
In this article, we’ll cover what a time audit is and how to perform it with a simple step-by-step guide.
What is a working time audit?
Tracking time over a period of several days can give managers a better idea of how staff are spending their time. The results can then be analysed to see how employees and the business are actually spending their time against what they should be doing and consequently enhance productivity and efficiency.
Wait, aren’t we wasting more time doing this activity?
The short answer is no. The audit process is a short activity that can last as little as a few days and once it is complete, you can adjust schedules based on the results. This can then help boost future efficiency and productivity and save time in the long run.
How do you run a working time audit?
There are a few different techniques for running a time audit. Here is a process you could follow:
a. Step 1: List tasks
The first step to performing a time audit is to create a list of tasks that must be completed in the workday.
For instance, you may list the following tasks:
- Checking or sending emails, instant messages, etc.
- Attending meetings.
- Phone calls with customers.
b. Step 2: Write down what you want to achieve from the workday
Writing down what you intend to achieve and then comparing it with the audit results will provide a measure of how productive you are. That’s why before you look at any data, you should note down what your ideal day would look like.
c. Step 3: Set time aside for each task
And now that you have your defined tasks, write down the time you would like you and your staff to spend on each of them.
For example, if you run a software engineering business, your defined intentions could look something like:
- Coding: 40% of the time.
- Debugging: 20% of the time.
- Client and team communication: 10% of the time.
- Documentation: 5% of the time.
d. Step 4: Track activities
The next step is to track the day-to-day tasks as they are attempted/completed, noting down how much time each one takes.
e. Step 5: Analyse results
The last thing to do is review the time audit report with a discerning eye.
Look for things like:
- Are you spending less time on a task than you thought you would?
- Do work rates tend to slack during certain times of the day?
- Is there a specific task that’s draining time?
What happens after the working time audit?
Now that you have analysed the audit results, you need to look for ways that work can be completed more efficiently. Here are a few tweaks you may decide to take on board:
a. Reorganize the workday
Once you have a log of how you and your staff spend time, the next step is to reshuffle the workday to increase efficiency.
This might mean doing one or more of the following:
- Eliminate unnecessary tasks or delegate them.
- Consolidate tasks into one scheduled activity to prevent time wastage.
- Break large projects into smaller ones with defined targets.
b. Plan and prioritize
After identifying where time is being used, plan how to prioritize the most important tasks and eliminate non-productive activities.
c. Make changes to employee scheduling
With a clear idea of priorities, it’s now possible to amend or create a working schedule that reflects how you and your staff should be spending their time.
When should I complete a working time audit?
You can run a working time audit at any point in time. However, it is often more effective if you have at least a few weeks or a month of data available before you get started.
You may also decide to run a work time audit if you or your business is:
- Struggling to complete projects on time and get through tasks.
- Constantly missing deadlines.
- Spending longer than necessary on specific tasks.
How long should the working time audit be run for?
This depends on the needs of the business and the complexity of the issues. Businesses can run a working time audit for a matter of days, a few weeks, or even several months. Our advice is to run it for as long as you feel you need to in order to understand the issues you are facing.
Are there any tools available to help run a working time audit?
Yes, there are. Many in fact. The tools you decide to use will depend on:
- How you currently track time.
- The level of detail you want in your audit.
- The span of the time audit.
Here are three types of tools that you can use:
a. A to-do list
A to-do list will give you a clear idea of the daily tasks your business needs to complete. There are many software packages that offer to-do-list functions. Here at Papershift we offer a comprehensive option in our Marketplace with our Tasks add-in software.
Calendars will help to give an account of how you want to spend your workday and what got in the way, like meetings or appointments.
c. Time Tracking Software
A time-tracking app will provide a detailed account of how you and your staff spend time on tasks, projects, and apps. Our best-selling Time Tracking solution is a comprehensive choice for most businesses.
The goal of a working time audit is to do more in less time. But for most businesses, maximising employee and management time can be a monumental task.
- Clock in and out from browser
- Time tracking via Phone & Tablet app
- View & approve time records online
- Export timesheets to payroll
- View & approve staff vacation requests
- Overview of employee availability & absences
If this is something you and your business are struggling with, you need to check out our Time Tracking software package to make the process of time auditing much easier to manage.