When thinking about the potential of business intelligence, it can be hard to keep your feet on the ground. The truth is that it can make an amazing difference in the way your business works, increasing visibility and skyrocketing profitability. Companies that use analytics to automate processes and improve decision-making, for example, see an average return on investment of 389%.
But where do you start? You need defined processes, so you can streamline communications, automate tasks, and standardize your data. After all, it’s nearly impossible to reach any conclusions with business intelligence if there’s data missing. There’s no need to worry, though. With the right tools and processes, logging and making sense of the data you need is convenient and easy. You just have to be consistent.
Develop the Habit of Tracking Your Time and Expenses
Time and expense tracking is foundational for measuring and improving the performance of AEC firms. Excuse the cliché, but your time is money. It’s your most valuable resource, the basis of your biggest expenditures (i.e. salaries), and what your clients pay you for.
Even if you charge fixed fees for your projects, you could be missing out on hard-earned cash by not tracking your time. You need to make sure you charge enough to cover all the effort that goes into your projects. And if you find out that a project phase takes more time than you previously thought it would, then your fixed fee should be adjusted for the next proposal.
It’s hard to know if your projects are even profitable without examining the resources that went into them. Plus, if you can’t measure something, any attempt at improving it will be haphazard at best.
Find the Tools to Make It Simple
Despite the importance of managing time and expenses, it’s never easy to get your employees (and, let’s face it, yourself) to fill out their time cards. People complain, you have to remind them constantly, and crucial information always comes in late. In order to fix this messy process, you need to remove the friction.
Find software that gives you flexible tracking options, like timers and intuitive time cards. A mobile app will make things go even more smoothly. Ideally, you should also be able to centralize all of your information that’s related to those time and expense entries by attaching notes and documents to them.
Assign Staff to Projects, Phases, and Tasks
It’s worthwhile to see how many total hours an employee worked, but it’s even better to specifically know what they were doing. That way, you can ensure that you’re making the most out of your resources and your staff isn’t wasting their time. You should start with assigning your staff to the appropriate projects, phases, and tasks.
This is one of the ultimate solutions to the questions, “What is everyone working on?” and “What am I supposed to be working on!?!” With a list of the right assignments in front of you (and pre-populated on your time card), focusing will be much less of an issue.
While assigning tasks, allocating hours, and assigning start and end dates may seem daunting, when you have the right software to help you, it’s actually pretty simple.
Combine Time, Expenses, and Projects With Billing and Accounting
Putting your billing and accounting data on the same platform as your time, expenses, and projects is a wise decision if you’re serious about business intelligence. It will make many kinds of analysis infinitely easier, like calculating your ideal and effective bill rates and pay rates. Even more importantly, you’ll be able to instantaneously learn about the profitability of your projects, clients, and employees.
Make It Happen!
When you’re consistent about tracking time and expenses and use software that combines that data with project management, billing, and accounting, the possibilities are almost limitless.
Learn more about the world that business intelligence opens up to you—and get moving on improving your own firm’s data analysis—in a complimentary webinar with AEC Next and BQE Software on Tuesday, October 2. I’ll show you how AEC businesses are using business intelligence and related processes and technology to streamline their daily tasks, gain a competitive advantage, and grow their organizations like never before.