If you’ve been alive and breathing in the last decade, you’ve seen the many amazing (and sometimes terrible) things that the internet has to offer. But more than anything, what we’re seeing is an inundating amount of how-to lists, buzzwordey articles with our top five tips and tricks, the “best” time management tactics and so on. And some of them are truly great reads, (and we’ve been guilty of sharing those types of articles before, too) but many of them simply don’t have all of the facts. So here we present to you some absolutely surefire ways to improve your business and get ahead of your competitors with very little effort or investment.

Tone up that time management

This isn’t your grandma’s time management advice. Actual measurable time data can make a fundamental difference to your company if collected and used correctly. One of the ways in which time tracking can lead to success is by using it to plan for projects and then follow their progress along the way. Knowing a project is behind schedule or over budget towards the end of the project’s life span does no one any good. Knowing this information sooner, however, will help you act accordingly with your peers, employees and your personal projects as well and stop wasting time and money.

Automate it

Not only should you track time within your company, but finding the appropriate time accounting platform to automate it for you will be all the difference in the world of human errors on an excel spreadsheet. According to a major research advisory firm, fully automating the timesheet process reduces errors and staff time by 75 percent or more. Automation technologies and practices reduce improper time tracking activities and associated costs by validating project/cost code lists and monitoring approval processes electronically. Additional savings are realized by eliminating paper costs, and policy and regulatory compliance is improved.

Keeping big brother quiet

Make absolutely sure your company is in compliance with SOX, DCAA and/or other necessary standards. When payroll executives implement time and attendance systems to automate payroll, they often miss the chance to facilitate greater profitability throughout the entire company. These payroll executives are, of course, payroll experts. They are usually not, however, experts at project accounting or billing automation.

However, the time data, if collected appropriately, can also be used to automate project management, project accounting, project tracking and project estimation improvement, as well as for internal, external and reverse billing automation — and any of these can also become SOX concerns. Most payroll and HR executives know little about these subjects, but increasingly, they are being asked to rise to new challenges with federal regulation requirements being just one of them.

Step up your PTO management

Controlling and understanding PTO expense allows you to recruit better talent. You can promise people more vacation than your competitors if you know that it’s controllable. This tips the balance in your favor, allowing you to build a better team.

The first issue businesses need to address when creating their PTO plan is what to do about employees who quit or are terminated. Many states require that the balance of vacation pay be paid when an employee leaves the firm unless the company has a policy that states otherwise. If you choose to disallow vacation time to resigning employees and you run a company of high turnover—a fact of life in certain industries, like retail or food service—this allows you to re-allocate the PTO that those who leave might have used in favor of those who stick around. In essence, you can offer more generous PTO packages when recruiting than your more lenient competitors can offer, at no additional cost.

A little positive affirmation never hurt

Choosing the appropriate time management SaaS solution will only benefit your company if you can get your employees to actually use it. Hourly workers are easiest to convince because they want to be paid, so they already have an incentive. And yet, everyone regardless of status should want the company to be a success, so once they understand that using time tracking to automate billing—thereby making it more accurate—leads to more revenue, they should become more open to it.

Project accounting is more abstract than payroll or billing, and you don’t want to wind up with unnecessary overtime, stressful blown schedules, bad estimates or canceled projects. Try relating specific examples where good time collection could have prevented problems in order to make that connection in the minds of your employees.