Sooner or later it will happen to all professionals to come across a crucial choice for the future of their structure: to introduce or not a time detection software. Given the current times, having an analytical tool available to measure the performance of the studio, rather than relying only on one’s own perception, is a choice of fundamental importance; but the adoption of such a system could be hindered by the structure, as the contribution and participation of the whole team is required. One of the biggest challenges that the professional has to face is to understand how to possibly introduce him to the structure and how to manage possible reactions.
Life in the studio is hectic and the activities to be completed daily are many. The idea of introducing an additional task for one’s collaborators risks postponing the decision to future times. But you know, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.“. So, to maximize the chances of success, you need to pay attention to five elements:
1. Adequate explanation of the initiative: the first step is to share the decision taken with the structure. This phase is very delicate, as, only thanks to adequate training and awareness, the timesheet is effectively implemented for what it is: a method of analyzing the time dedicated to customers and not of evaluating people. The greatest risk is that it is interpreted as a control tool, lowered from above. In order to avoid this, we need to clarify and share some points:
- the purpose: because the firm has decided to undertake this path and that is the future strategic plan;
- the usefulness: to explain how the survey of the activities allows to acquire awareness on the problems affecting the study and to have the necessary data to face them. The management of customers and supporting processes often escapes perception, making it difficult to plan activities. Situations of this kind can be a source of stress and the structure will be well prepared to commit to using a tool capable of resolving such situations;
- commitment required: illustrate what everyone will have to do on a daily basis by leveraging the simplicity of the required activity.
2. Empowerment of people: Target hourly budgets must be defined with each person, i.e. we must quantify a likely estimated time for the different activities for each client, possibly on the basis of average market values. This allows us to further strengthen the concept that the timesheet is not a control of people, but a monitoring of customers and their management. By doing so, we empower the individual and allow him to understand how to better manage the most difficult situations. In this sense, the detection of times stimulates in people a greater awareness regarding the management of their time.
3. The tool and its setup: There are different software on the market, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. They all have in common the insertion of some standard data such as date, time, type of activity carried out and the recipient customer. Regardless of the specific product on which the choice will fall, the basic elements to consider are the simplicity of use and an adequate setting to facilitate daily use and limit compilation errors. It is important that the commitment required is the minimum necessary, approximately 8/10 minutes a day. If the time required were longer, it would be really impossible for the whole structure to maintain a constant commitment, especially during peak periods of work.
Only thanks to the contribution of the structure, it is possible to sew on reality a system that fits perfectly with the identity of the studio. In this way the use will be simpler and clearer, drastically decreasing the probability of making mistakes.
In addition to the aspect related to data entry, it is also essential to take care of the output that you want to obtain. Often, if the data are difficult to extrapolate and / or interpret, their analysis tends to be postponed until a later date. Considering the effort required of the entire structure and the potential for improvement that lie behind the recorded data, it would be a real shame if these remained “parked” in the archive.
4. Use of the software: the first month represents the most critical period. The biggest obstacle is getting into the daily habit of using the software. A good start is crucial because it will determine the quality of all subsequent work. In this phase it is strongly recommended to monitor how (and if) the activities are detected and possibly correct the shot.
5. Data sharing: it is important to communicate the results that have emerged as a result of the effort required. Periodically, during the data analysis phase, it is optimal to organize sharing meetings. The comparison between the reported times and the objectives will bring out situations, even unexpected ones, which will stimulate both collaborators and professionals in seeking possible solutions.
Only by involving the entire structure and making it feel part of the process, can truthful awareness be obtained from the acquired data. With solid training and a transparent sharing of objectives, the best contribution of each one will allow us to reap the fruits of that tree that we could have planted 20 years ago but, as they say: “better late than never!”