How Time Tracking Can Revolutionize Your Nonprofit
Every nonprofit organization, regardless of size or sector, has a mission. It might be to raise funds and awareness for a disease, assist underprivileged or abused individuals, or help conserve and protect the natural resources. At the same time each organization also faces the danger of losing sight of its mission by becoming preoccupied with necessary but often burdensome overhead and administrative work. When employee, management or volunteer time is wasted on tasks that could easily be automated, the entire organization suffers, along with the mission.
Fine Tuning the Wheel
An expertly-developed and finely-tuned time management system that tracks project management, billing, and professional payroll can become a window into the real-time costs of any organization. This is especially true if it provides a thorough understanding of costs at every level of the organization and complete visibility into these costs for everyone who impacts them.
The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) learned this lesson quite well. As a relief and development organization with staff working all over the world, the CRWRC must be as efficient as possible in how it uses staff time. In the past, the organization found that having employees track their time in Microsoft Excel wasted this valuable time. Multiple faxes and emails were required to obtain the appropriate signatures, and the Finance department then had to recompile all the data into financial reports for grantors. For this reason, the CRWRC decided to implement a technology solution for tracking hours worked on government grant programs.
Laura Musoke, Training and Development Coordinator at the CRWRC, believes that the new technology has brought positive change to the entire organization. “The system has decreased the amount of staff time involved in compiling time-keeping data and eliminated time spent chasing signatures,” she says. This allows the staff to focus their attention on more pressing matters that help the CRWRC achieve its goals.
Many people mistakenly believe that time-tracking data is only useful for payroll. On the contrary, if used correctly, this data can facilitate greater profitability throughout the entire organization. In fact, time data helps to automate project management, project costing, project tracking and project estimation improvement, as well as internal, external and reverse billing. It can also provide a critical view into where time is being spent and if things could be done in a more efficient manner.
Laura Musoke believes that automated time tracking has had a greater impact on the CRWRC than just facilitating payroll. She says, “The data also allows us to see areas where staff members are overloaded with grant program work – either working on too many grants or working too many hours, even weekends. We can address these specific situations by writing more personnel costs into subsequent grant applications to hire local support staff.” It is clear that for many organizations, time data provides insight into not only what people are working on, but how many labor hours are expended, helping managers to calculate the true ROI of each project.
With modern technology, there is no longer any reason to waste employee time and effort on overhead and administrative tasks. Automated time tracking not only makes payroll easier, but also highlights where employee time is spent and whether or not the projects are profitable. Without this unnecessary burden, nonprofit organizations are free to focus on their strengths and work towards fulfilling their strategic goals – the reason why they are in business in the first place.