10 Creative Ways to Save Time

10 Creative Ways to Save Time

Time is the most precious commodity we have, mostly because we have so little of it. Even the wealthiest of people can’t buy more time, and we can’t replace time that has been lost. This makes it important to make as much of your time as possible because wasted time is time that you will never get back again. 

The chances are that all of us are wasting time in some ways, even if we don’t realize it. Take watching TV shows, for example. Now, watching a TV show is not necessarily a waste of time per se – we all need our downtime. But how much time have you spent watching intros that you’ve already seen numerous times before? Last week, Netflix revealed that in the 5 years since introduction, the Skip Intro button had cumulatively saved it’s users a 195 years! 

Here, we look at ten creative ways to help you avoid wasting your precious time. 

1. Time Tracking

Many of us will be wasting time without even realizing it or not realizing how much we are spending on unproductive tasks. However, investing in time tracking software like the PK4 TimeTracker can help you recognize where your time is being spent. Using time tracking tools makes it easier to know how to make adjustments to your day so you become more productive in project management.

2. Avoid Multitasking

Many people believe doing more than one thing at once is a great way to get more done to save time. However, quite the opposite is usually true. Indeed, studies have shown that we can lose up to 40% of our productivity if we try multitasking. Instead, it’s best to focus on one thing at a time, moving on to the next task as soon as the previous task is done.

3. Make the Most of Waiting Time

We all need to wait sometimes. Whether it’s in a waiting room for an interview or on a train on the way to work, there are moments when we are essentially doing nothing productive. However, you can even use these moments to get something done. Some tasks can be completed with a laptop or even a smartphone, leaving you free for other tasks later on. 

4. Delegate

Many tasks are time-consuming and unproductive, but they still need to be done. If you have such tasks on your itinerary, you could consider delegating accountability to somebody else. Delegating unproductive tasks will give you more time to focus on what matter most, boosting your productivity overall and making for good project management.

5. Avoid Pointless Meetings

A common issue that affects team management is calling meetings for no good reason. For example, some will want to call meetings to distribute work management reports that could otherwise be shared and discussed by email. If you are called to a meeting that you feel isn’t necessary, politely decline if you can. It’s important to be tactful because refusing to go to too many meetings could give the wrong impression, but it’s something to consider when you’re busy.

6. Learn To Say NO

Learning to say no is one of the most important skills to master when it comes to time management. Too many people will gladly disturb you when you’re already doing something, hindering your performance in the process. When it comes to team management, it’s important to draw lines and say no when people are disrupting your working day. It’s OK to allocate some time in the day to other people, but they need to know to leave you alone when you’re working. This includes friends and family as well as colleagues and employees. 

7. Plan Your Day

Planning your day ahead will help give your performance a boost. You will be able to see what needs to be done and when, making it easy to identify potential issues before you get started. Making to-do-lists will help you plan your day, while you can also use online calendars with staff and colleagues so they know what you have planned. 

8. Prioritize Your Tasks

A key tip to effective product management is to focus on your most important and most productive work priorities, and tools like the timeboxing technique will help you achieve this. Make sure to do the most important and most productive first, leaving the rest for last. Even better, delegate the least important tasks to give you more time to focus on important things, including essential downtime.

9. Automate

Many menial tasks will take a long time, but one of the advantages of menial tasks is that you can automate many of them. Some tasks like processing emails and replying with messages can be automated, potentially reducing wasted time and boosting your productivity. Another advantage of using automation tools is that they give you access to feedback data, which can empower you to make impactful decisions.

10. Look After Yourself

Taking accountability for your well-being is one of the most important time management skills you could learn. Eat well, sleep well, get a reasonable amount of exercise and give yourself time to relax. When you look after yourself, you are better prepared to handle whatever comes at you, making you more efficient. You will get through tasks quickly and accurately, helping to save time overall.

Summary

This is just a small selection of creative ways you can save time. In many cases, we aren’t even aware of how much time we are wasting, and time tracker tools can help highlight areas for improvement. Planning your day and avoiding unnecessary tasks and meetings can also help, while automation tools are also beneficial. But, perhaps most importantly of all, make sure to look after yourself so you’re firing on all cylinders. 

If you have other effective ways to save time, do share it with us in the comments. Would love to hear from you.

Photo by Gerd Altmann on Pixabay

 

7 Tips to Make Team Meetings Productive

7 Tips to Make Team Meetings Productive

Productivity is an essential metric for businesses. Without high performance levels, targets aren’t met, and the bottom line can be affected, potentially jeopardizing the company. Some methods can keep performance levels high. For example, time tracking software like the PK4 TimeTracker will help make time management easier and limit wasted time.  

Individual employees must work together as a team for maximum project management effectiveness. However, getting individuals to work together can be easier said than done, with meetings often necessary to help the team gel as a unit.

Regular meetings can help make team management easier and boost productivity by getting everybody together and discussing roles and processes. Here are a few tips to help you get the most from your team meetings.

1. Create An Agenda

No meetings should begin without a meeting agenda. You should also send a message to others beforehand to ask if there’s anything they’d like to add to the schedule. Once you’ve created your agenda, you should ensure that everybody has a copy before the meeting starts.

An agenda is important because it helps ensure that everything is covered. A plan will also help ensure there’s enough time to cover everything, and it also helps you allocate time to agenda items to ensure they don’t’ run over.

During a meeting, it’s easy for people to come up with ideas that are not on the agenda, which could derail the meeting. However, such ideas may be valuable and should not be wasted. A solution to the issue is the parking lot technique that lets ideas be ‘parked’ so they can be revisited later.

2. Create the Right Environment

For a meeting to be constructive, it needs to be held in the right environment. The right environment means being in a place where you are not disturbed and where everybody has the opportunity to speak freely. Also, make sure that there’s plenty of space, everybody is comfortable, and you have all the tools you need.

In some cases, it can be constructive to hold team meetings in a casual environment with beanbags and other comfortable sitting arrangements. Helping people relax can help them think easier, helping their creativity to come out.

If your meeting involves remote workers, make sure all the equipment is in place at both ends. It’s a good idea to check equipment first to help ensure audio and video is clear and any other required functionality is working.

3. Assign Meeting Roles

Some meeting attendees should be given specific roles that will help ensure the meeting goes smoothly and is productive. The manager will usually lead the meeting, while other important roles include note-taking and time keeping.

It can also be a great idea in some meetings to assign somebody the role of devil’s advocate. This person will have the responsibility of challenging ideas to provoke thought. The devil’s advocate doesn’t necessarily have to disagree with ideas they are challenging – it’s more of a brainstorming exercise. 

4. Talk About Teamwork Not Reports

 Team meetings should ideally be about teamwork and work priorities. For example, team meetings should cover matters like roles within the team and if there is anything team members can do to be helping each other more.

It might be tempting to use a team meeting to distribute reports on project management, but this would be a waste of valuable time. Instead, reports can be sent before the meeting is held, so time is spent on more productive discussions. It’s a good idea to send the reports in plenty of time, so everybody has a chance to read them.

5. Assign Accountability

It’s all very well talking about what needs to be done, but one of the key issues is ensuring people know who is responsible. During the meeting make sure to assign accountability to the appropriate people so everybody understands who is responsible. Not only does this help the person responsible understand their role, but it also helps the rest of the team understand their position in the group. Assigning accountability during a meeting is also effective team management because it allows people to voice any concerns they might have. 

6. Ask For Feedback

No meetings should be a monologue coming from the meeting leader. Instead, they should be an opportunity for everybody to get involved and say their piece. Not only should you allow people to speak, but you should actively encourage them to speak. If needed, make sure to address everybody individually to make sure they know they have a voice.

Active listening is also very important for workplace management. Active listening means letting people speak and considering everything they are saying. Don’t be too quick to pass something off if it doesn’t sit well to begin with; the person speaking might have a very good point. 

7. Make Meetings Fun

Meetings can become boring and, when things get boring, even the most attentive of people can begin to drift away. However, if you make your team meetings fun, then you’re likely to keep everybody’s attention. So add some wit to your meetings to help make them enjoyable, while you can also try role play for a fun way to help team members understand other people’s roles in the team.

Of course, it’s important to remain professional and ensure that everything is covered. If things start getting a little too rowdy, it’s best to bring everybody’s attention back to work priorities. 

Summary

These are just a few tips that will help ensure that you get as much as possible from your meetings. Different types of organizations will need to adopt different models according to the nature of their work. For example, some will need to focus on creativity during their team meetings, while others will have more of a focus on technical issues.

Regardless, if you prepare and execute your meetings accordingly, they should help make project management easier. Do share any other tips that you find useful to make meetings more productive.

Photo by Joseph Mucira on Pixabay

 

How CHC Hydronics Got a Grip On Labor Costs

How CHC Hydronics Got a Grip On Labor Costs


How CHC Hydronics Got a Grip On Labor Costs

What do universities, data centers and hotels have in common? They all need highly-customized heating, ventilation and cooling systems to help maintain an optimum temperature and keep occupants (human and machines) happy.

That’s where CHC Hydronics steps in. Headquartered in Hayward, California, CHC is a leading provider of plumbing, mechanical and HVAC equipment to commercial buildings and project engineers across North America. Operating two factories and partnering with over 100 contractors, the company designs and supplies these custom-built systems to fit within each client’s unique space and needs.

Challenges

With dozens of shop floor workers and field service technicians spread across hundreds of active manufacturing and field service projects at the same time, it is important for CHC Hydronics to understand how much time and labor it spends on each client, and on each product line.

To that end, the company has always used a time-tracking solution to help them keep track of how much time employees were spending on different tasks and projects. Before they implemented PK4 TimeTracker, CHC was using another third-party solution for labor tracking in their production plants. However, this solution presented several limitations in scope and use cases, and challenges:

Lack of features: It only had limited features and functions, and lacked the in-depth capabilities for CHC to be able to sort and analyze their time data across different dimensions (e.g. by manufacturer, product line, or salesperson).

Inflexible deployment: The prior solution only allowed them to track in-house factory labor. It could not accommodate time tracking for remote field service technicians, who needed to use manual timesheets to track their time spent on each servicing project.

Poor integration: CHC needed a modern solution that was aligned with their new cloud-based ERP solution, but their prior solution did not integrate with their Salesforce-based ERP system, FinancialForce.

This prompted CHC to look for an alternative solution that could meet its evolving needs for time tracking.

Solution

In 2019, CHC Hydronics implemented PK4’s Time Tracker as an upgrade to replace their prior solution. They also integrated the PK4 TimeTracker with Financial Force for better visibility.

Results

Integration with Financial Force
With both Financial Force and the PK4 TimeTracker being on the Salesforce platform, CHC was able to integrate the two platforms easily. All the shop floor workers’ time was directly integrated with Production Orders on Financial Force. The service technicians’ time was integrated with Sales Orders in Financial Force. In both cases, when a Project is completed on the Time Tracker, a labor line is added to include the cost. Thus enabling CHC Hydro to have a very accurate picture of the labor costs both on Production Orders and Sales Orders.

Improved Time Tracking Convenience and Accuracy

PK4 TimeTracker allowed CHC to integrate time tracking across two different groups of employees, unifying time tracking for both shop floor workers and field service technicians for the first time.

CHC Time Tracker Dashboard
CHC Time Tracker Dashboard

With versatility in deployment formats, CHC was able to deploy the time tracking app to end users in a format that best suited them: for shop floor workers, this meant clocking in and out via a stationary iPad kiosk on the factory floor, whereas field technicians could track their time spent on each assignment with a convenient mobile app.

Whereas shop floor workers were already used to these time tracking procedures, field technicians reported much greater convenience with the elimination of manual time sheets which they had to submit daily, as well as improved accuracy now that they could check in and out of projects on the spot. For CHC Hydronics, accuracy was of utmost importance, as they needed to make sure they were compliant with California’s Prevailing Wage labor regulations.

Ease of Integration, Data Reporting And Analysis

Secondly, the ease of integration of the Time Tracker with Salesforce and FinancialForce also enabled data automation and more robust, in-depth reporting. Combining factory production data and sales data from their ERP system with time reports from Time Tracker, CHC could now create dashboards and reports allowing them to track labor across several different dimensions – by project or client, product line, technician, etc.

These insights into their labor expenses proved useful not only for internal decision making – it also gave the company leverage for negotiating with business partners and clients. In particular, they could share detailed reports on time spent on projects and servicing to negotiate for better terms and rates.

Overall, the feedback from employees and the IT team has been very positive. Patrick Hamilton, IT Manager at CHC Hydronics highlighted the partnership and support as particularly outstanding: “PK4 worked closely with us to design a solution to fit our needs. The support we receive from PK4 has always been top notch, and any issues we face are always quickly resolved!”

CHC quote about Time Tracker

Tech Components 

  • Salesforce Sales Cloud
  • PK4 TimeTracker in Salesforce
  • PK4 TimeTracker Mobile App for field service engineers
  • PK4 TimeTracker Kiosk app for shopfloor
  • Financial Force integration.

Download Case Study in PDF Format

How Johnson Controls Enabled Cost Accountability for its Sales CoE

How Johnson Controls Enabled Cost Accountability for its Sales CoE


How Johnson Controls Enabled Cost Accountability for its Sales CoE

As a Fortune Global 500 company, Johnson Controls is a worldwide leader in providing building technology solutions. With over 105,000 employees across 2,000 locations, Johnson Controls equips buildings across the world with automation systems, HVAC equipment, security and more, to keep their occupants safe, healthy, and secure.

Behind the company’s US$31.4 billion worth of sales sits the company’s Center of Excellence on Sales Operations – a network of engineers, contractors, and program managers which supports global sales teams with drafting project blueprints and designs. 

Challenges

While the Sales Operations Centre of Excellence (CoE) was previously embedded within separate business units, it was reformed into a separate business unit following a corporate reorganization in 2019. As an independent business unit servicing different regions and divisions across the company, the CoE was now an independent accounting entity. It maintains its own financial statements, accounting for (internal) revenue through billing other business units for services performed, and costs through careful tracking of employees’ time. In order to accurately charge these costs back to separate business units, time tracking was now an integral part of this accountability. 

Adding to this complexity was the fact that some sub-teams within the CoE already had established legacy solutions and practices for time tracking. While some employees were new to time tracking, others were using disparate time tracking systems. For instance, while one team in Costa Rica was already using a time tracking system, another in APAC was tracking their hours manually on spreadsheets.

In their search for a time tracking solution, the Sales Operations CoE team at Johnson Controls had two key requirements. Firstly, the solution had to provide a seamless user experience. Secondly, the time tracking system had to be integrated with Salesforce.

PK4 Tech’s Time Tracker stood out as a strong contender as its deep integrations with Salesforce meant that time tracking data could easily be integrated with other sales and operations data already on the CRM platform. This helped to minimize the implementation complexity and efforts. 

Solution

With the goal of unifying all teams under a standardized time tracking solution, Johnson Controls first started with a phased introduction of PK4 Tech’s Time Tracker. Within the first 2 years of implementation, 1,000 of over 4,000 employees in the global CoE organization were onboarded to the Time Tracker.

Results

Improved Time Tracking And Cost Accountability: With the Time Tracker, employees were now able to log their hours with a level of granularity that was not possible before. For instance, where previously, the CoE team only tracked hours on a general basis, they could now break these hours down into pre-sale vs post-sale support, coordination time, administrative time, etc.

This, in turn, has enabled the CoE to provide detailed statements of work and invoices when charging their services to other business units. The detailed breakdown of labor costs and services allows the CoE team to improve the accountability and accuracy of their cost chargeback.

Deepened Business Insights: With the custom Salesforce reports and dashboards, management could now get a comprehensive review of their business, and access granular data like labor and service cost breakdown by region, project type, or even task type. This provides Johnson Controls with more accurate data and information for resource planning and strategic decision-making. 

Reduced Overall Administrative Burden: The integration with Salesforce also helped to reduce the administrative work required from both end-users, as well as the management and finance teams. Employees within the CoE team were already familiar with using Salesforce and introducing a time tracking system within the CRM platform greatly eased their transition towards this new time tracking process. Furthermore, having the Time Tracker integrated into Salesforce also allowed for the synchronization of data on labor costs with established invoicing and finance processes, minimizing the administrative efforts for the finance teams.

Tech Components 

  • Salesforce Sales Cloud
  • PK4 TimeTracker in Salesforce
  • PK4 TimeTracker Mobile App
  • PK4 TimeTracker Web App
  • Microsoft Azure AD integration for Single SignOn.

Download Case Study in PDF Format

Manage Projects Efficiently and Get Paid Faster

Manage Projects Efficiently and Get Paid Faster

Late payments can play havoc with a company’s cash flow. Such disruption can result in shortages meaning there’s a lack of funds to reinvestment in the company or even difficulties paying bills and staff. Regardless, studies have shown that around 64% of small companies have experienced not being paid on invoices for 60 days or longer.

There are various reasons for late payments from clients. One reason is the client lacking funds themselves, while another potential reason is a lack of organization. The company doing the work is also sometimes at fault, such as delayed delivery, quality issues, or administrative problems. 

One way to ensure that you’re paid for projects on time is to run the project as efficiently as possible.

Define the Project Before Starting

One way to help ensure you get paid on time is to define the project before starting. You need to define the scope of the task, which materials are needed, how long it will take, and who will be working on the project.

By defining the project fully, you can give an accurate quote and completion deadline, meaning the client is less likely to have anything to contest when paying. Defining the project will also help ensure you get paid fairly for your work and have everything you need to do the job. 

Track Your Team

Manpower is one of the most important ingredients of just about any project. Your staff’s experience and skills are necessary to get the job done and even the most advanced technology cannot replace most human tasks. However, as important as manpower is for getting a project finished, it is also one of the most expensive aspects. Manpower can also be one of the most difficult variables to manage.

However, solutions like PK4 Tech’s time tracking software can help to make it much easier for you to track and manage your team. For example, the technology can let you know where an employee is at a particular time, what they have been working on, and how long they have spent on certain tasks.

This ability to monitor employees in such a way is beneficial for numerous reasons, including:

  • Error Reduction: It can be very easy to make errors when timesheets are created. People are unlikely to remember all the details of their working week, especially if they have been busy. Time tracking software will help to eliminate errors by tracking your employees’ actions for you. 
  • Improved Billing: Time trackers make it easier to track the amount of time working for clients. The software also makes it easier for you to send reports to your clients to keep up with the work being done and monitor the progress of the project themselves. With everything documented, clients are less likely to have a reason to delay their payments.
  • Monitor Productivity: The average employee will spend around 51% of their working day on unproductive tasks. It’s not necessarily their fault; people just won’t always realize how much time certain tasks are taking. With time tracking software, you can monitor how long employees are spending on tasks, helping you identify where they could be spending their time better.
  • Easy Processing: Processing timesheets can be a time-consuming and menial task for managers, meaning more important tasks are pushed aside. However, time-tracking software makes it much simpler for managers to approve timesheets. Instead of using paper sheets, managers instead have all the details they need on the screen in front of them. The software makes it easy to accept or reject timesheets at the touch of a button, and let employees know why their timesheet was rejected.
  • Budget Monitoring: It can be easy to go over budget if you’re not monitoring your expenses, but time tracking software makes it easy for you. With the right software, you can get the information you need at a glance, helping you make important decisions. 

Time tracking can help you manage your project more efficiently in numerous ways. In addition to the benefits already mentioned, the software can also produce comprehensive reports that give you the information you need to make impactful decisions. Not only that, but time-tracking software can also integrate with other systems, helping you get more value from them. Overall, the software can help you identify the most productive ways to work, while reducing errors and streamlining your processes. Your clients are more likely to pay on time with an efficiently managed process.