Removing the Roadblocks to Project Accounting Success for Utility and Field Services Organizations
Out of our 50-millennia history, only in the last 50 years have we seen knowledge workers become a significant portion of the economy. These numbers are still growing and will, in our lifetime, encompass the majority of workers globally. Think about what your parents and grandparents did for a living. Chances are that your ancestors were farmers or factory workers—rather than “knowledge” workers—for at least a portion of their careers. Project accounting is how we understand production costs in a knowledge economy.
What are the Roadblocks to Successful Project Accounting?
Project accounting is the practice of creating financial reports and processes specifically designed to track the financial progress of jobs and service order delivery. In the case of utility companies or other organizations that are field services-oriented, project accounting is used to track all costs (time, expense, and equipment utilization) associated with the work performed on the delivery of services. This enables companies to determine their profitability and increase the level of service they can provide to customers.
Collecting this data, however, is not an easy task. The biggest impediment to successful project accounting is employee resistance to data collection. But why do people hate to track their time so much?
Reason #1: Reporting time can feel like a status threat.
For salaried employees, especially if they have previously utilized an hourly “time clock” environment at some point during their careers, reporting time can feel like a demotion. We know this isn’t close to being correct. Employees, regardless of their economic classification or job role, can benefit from consistent time tracking and accurate reporting, as the usage of time and expense tracking data is vital in order to keep your company moving like a well-oiled machine.
Reason #2: “What if I find out that I don’t work as much as I like to think?”
Some people – often the most productive – garner self-esteem from the high number of hours they work. But sometimes they’re not sure if they believe their own claims and the thought of finding out the truth is scary. Regardless of what the data shows, it is better to know where you stand in order to adjust workload accordingly.
Reason #3: Time itself doesn’t measure effort or productivity
Knowledge workers know that managers, who have the power to reward some people over others, often overlook the vague, aggregated metrics of real productivity in favor of some clear-cut metrics that are easier to track, like time records. Managers may take the easy path of rewarding based on time spent rather than develop more subtle and appropriate metrics of real productivity. This shows that time, per se, doesn’t give a particular indication of productivity. A better sense of productivity is derived from time tracking per unit of value.
Reason #4: “I’m too busy.”
The busiest, most responsible employees – the productive ones whose time is in highest demand – will, sooner or later, always have to stop doing the primary mission of the company to fill out a timesheet. The star employees tend to procrastinate when it comes to this task, or even outright refuse to do it. Worse still, they may unintentionally create flawed records. Meanwhile, the malingerers and marginal producers don’t feel as much of the burden of creating time records and never submit them late. This discrepancy creates an impression that the whole exercise is worthless.
How to Remove the Roadblocks
Education and Buy-In
The most effective way to get people to do anything is to make sure they understand what’s in it for them, and why it is important overall. Nobody wants to waste time on a task that they don’t understand the value or purpose of. In the case of payroll for hourly workers, since they want to get paid, the answer is easy. In the case of billing automation, it’s revenue for the company. Most people can understand this because most people care if their company succeeds. Project accounting is more abstract. Bad project accounting leads to unnecessary overtime, stress, blown schedules, bad estimates and cancelled or delayed jobs or service orders. Citing specific past examples where accurate time collection could have mitigated these problems helps to get them on board.
Data visuals – real-time charts, for instance, that make clear to managers which teams and people are entering their time consistently and completely and which are not – help managers understand early who they need to push on (to the degree a top-down approach works in the company’s culture).
Tying bonuses or other benefits to complete data collection is often used in customer relationship management (CRM) tools to adjust sales commissions. The same can be done for other forms of data collection, like workforce time data, and in different functions (including field services).
Getting an automated reminder when your timesheet has not yet been recorded or submitted, while at the same time sending an alert to the supervisor about someone who is delinquent on their time, can aid in creating more accurate time tracking both at the employer and employee levels.
Why Journyx Might be the Roadblock Solution for You
Journyx offers a multifaceted solution to meet all your time tracking needs. A robust, web-based time tracking system with an easy-to-use mobile app, Journyx allows employees to track their time more easily, quickly, and without adding unnecessary stress or frustration. Employees receive notifications regarding current time tracking status as well as data visuals regarding projects, past time tracking data, and time efficiency. Employers get more streamlined data visuals regarding company efficiency as well as individual employee efficiency. Learn more about how Journyx can work for your business here.
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Journyx helps you track time for projects, payroll, and more. Learn how Journyx can help you use time to your advantage in your business.