Time Tracking for Consultants: The Ultimate Guide

Author: Karolina Matyska

Time, as the old saying goes, is our most precious commodity, and consulting firms are no exception to this rule. Whether you’re at the helm of a consulting business or pursuing a freelance career, the adage “time is money” weights differently.

Consultants often track time as a practice that extends beyond mere clock-punching or scribbling notes during tasks. Consultant time tracking involves effective time management, resource optimization, and leveraging time for maximum efficiency.

For that reason, professionals in this industry, often find themselves on the lookout for time tracking software for consultants, that can help them monitor projects, speed up the completion of their consultant timesheets, to accurately bill clients.

Looking for an effortless, smart and secure time tracking tool for consultants?

Thousands of consultants already track their time with Timeular. 100% effort-free.

So, whether you’re looking for the best time tracking software for consultants, or to understand the concept of time tracking for consultants, in this article, we’ve expanded on its necessity, and the key features such a tool should include for the best results.

What is consultant time tracking?

Time tracking is the process of recording the number of hours worked, over a certain period, on a task or client project.

Using time tracking as a work tool allows for monitoring and logging work hours.

Time tracking can be performed manually (for example, Excel time tracking by using Excel sheets – by using predefined timesheet templates) or automatically via time tracking software.

Ultimately, the time tracking process will perform as a time doctor for the consultant’s progress and performance.

Read also:
free time management templates
What is project management tracking?

Why is time tracking necessary for consultants?

A consultant’s time might go beyond the traditional employee time clock or standard workday; it involves a meticulous logging of each task and activity.

By diligently recording work hours, a consultant timesheet can provide transparency and accountability in their projects.

Utilizing a consultant time tracking software, whether in a digital or physical format, allows for a detailed and organized approach to tracking billable hours.

This not only aids in fair invoicing, and keeping project costs on track, but also in evaluating the efficiency of time spent on client work.

Billable hours

Did you know that accurate time tracking is a good way to increase billable hour? Find more in our guide.

As consultants usually work by the hour, they are paid based on hourly rates. So, keeping an accurate record of the hours spent working for clients is vital because they will be paid for those registered hours – the billable hours.

These are the main benefits of time tracking for consultants:

1. More transparency

As a consultant, you might generally be required to provide detailed reports on clients’ projects, which include the overall time spent on the project or even for certain activities.

To offer a comprehensive report, you need to track hours, be intentional with time entries on your consultant timesheet, and bill clients accurately.

In turn, you’re able to offer transparency regarding hours spent vs. billing which increases customer retention and improves consultant-client relationships, while informing your pricing for future client projects.

Learn how to calculate your billable hourly rate

2. Accuracy and better communication

By adding a time-tracking process to your routine, you’ll be 100% aware of how much time and effort is spent on a particular project or client.

The data collected contributes to better time estimation for future projects and accurate billing, or even helps you make informed decisions for custom billing rates if need be.

To start collecting time tracking data, to help with the above, you can start using time tracking software, as it removes any human error, and can automatically record all your billable hours on your behalf.

If you need help with billing, you might be interested in this guide about client billing.

Looking for the best time tracking tool for consultants?

Thousands of consulting businesses track their time with Timeular!

We can easily forget important details that, down the line, may have a crucial role when presenting the results or billing a client.

Accurate time records provide real insights into consulting businesses different tasks and allow for more efficient resource planning.

If data from a previous project shows that, for example, creating a communication plan takes three days, the consultant can consider that when doing the project management plan for a new client.

Shortly, better time estimations increase client satisfaction since you’ll meet expectations, and you’ll be able to better communicate both internally and externally, as you’re backed by data.

All of the above will impact customer retention rates positively, too.

Read also: Ways to get consulting clients.

Customer Retention vs. Customer Acquisition

Which one is the most important and efficient for your business?

3. Higher profitability

Keeping track of work hours is also essential and required in identifying and increasing project profitability.

As a consulting business usually charges by the hour, all the time input must be accounted for as billable and non-billable hours since there isn’t the usual 9 to 5 to go from.

The hours tracked are precious time that is worth money. If billable hours are not tracked, the professionals and firms will do work for free and lose profit.

Tribes.ai

So, every activity noted on your project management tool, from the research time, and meetings with clients, until the execution of the tasks, is billable. There’s no better time than the beginning of a new project to start diligently tracking every task.

Remember, this process is not about employee monitoring, or controlling employee schedules, but rather optimizing for productivity, and ultimately, profitability.

Besides profitability and productivity, you will learn to create a more accurate time map for yourself, as well as enhance your task management skills.

TIP: Get access to the best-in-class free billable hours templates.

4. Increased efficiency

Time tracking provides data on how time is spent with accuracy, and doesn’t leave space for error. With data at hand, you’re equipped to check the project progress, assign tasks differently based on employee performance or capacity, and thus, better optimize your project management.

Hence, the tight deadlines become more manageable, and overtime hours decrease, which can only lead to higher efficiency.

Besides using project management tools, having access to time tracking software for consultants already adds a competitive edge to consulting teams.

The consultant time tracking software automates a considerable amount of the work, which means your consultant time can focus on what matters the most – being productive and project profitability.

Track time with Timeular to identify time-wasting tasks

Spend less time on unnecessary tasks and work on what matters the most

Some tools are even more helpful than others because they allow consultants to export reports anytime. Automated time reports are essential for consultants to deliver and update clients on progress, while not consuming time on filling a consultant timesheet at the end of the week.

As a result, you’ll see a boost in employee efficiency and project managers, as well as for freelancers and the company.

You might be interested in our guide to improving business efficiency.

5. Improved focus

Time tracking improves employee productivity levels as it will help you focus on one task at a time, avoiding multitasking and cognitive overload.

According to a study, multitasking can decrease productivity by up to 45%, and multitasking and/or context switching without time tracking decreases productivity by nearly half. Employees who multitask are way less likely to be focused and not send client projects on time.

Hence, time tracking adds healthy pressure and helps professionals stay invested in one task at a time until they finish it.

Read also: Get to know the best tips to improve focus and concentration.

6. Better work/life balance

According to data gathered by Zippia, 67.2% of workers report that some aspect of their work, colleagues, or corporate culture is the biggest culprit behind poor work-life balance.

Time tracking can improve this statistic as it can be the basis for completing the work on time. As we explored above, efficiency is highly improved by using a time-tracking app.

Billable and non billable hours become clearer; reports are issued faster. By helping with automation at workdeadlines are met in time, and workers avoid wasting time they can spend on their personal lives.

Mention: The best time tracking tools come up with the option of storing data on the user’s computer, locally, and we suggest that it not be assimilated to an employee monitoring or surveillance tool.

7. Visibility over every detail

If your scenario implies managing a team of consultants on multiple projects, then you probably need to handle an array of things such as project costs, project budgets, chasing weekly timesheets and maybe generating invoices sometimes.

At the same time, every team member comes with individual development needs, work hours, and particularities.

It sounds like a lot, and it’s understandable. This is why a time tracking tool is once again valuable.

It’ll speed up employee time tracking, by giving you timesheet templates already included in the timesheet app, and this way, you won’t need to be the time doctor of the team, but the software will take this role instead of you.

At the same time, individual reports generated with the time tracking apps will clarify quicker every consultant’s strengths or improvement areas.

In essence, by tracking time with your team, you’ll be provided with all the data to proactively address roadblocks, and impact a project’s and your team’s success.

How to track time as a consultant? 

If you’re a consultant and have never time tracked before or are willing to improve your current process, this is the best time to dive into this guide!

First, you need to know that you can track your time using a timesheet, a calendar, an email, or a time-tracking tool.

As mentioned, a time-tracking app is the most accurate and easy to use because it’s automatic, and frees up the time spent in googling timesheet templates!

This activity goes beyond choosing the best time to work and pressing play on a tracker. It includes planning. So, ensure you are clear on what tasks you need to track. Let’s see an example.

Example

If you tell a client you will work 6 hours on a project, those hours must be accounted for in detail. 

For example, from these 6 hours, you plan on spending 2 doing some research on the project’s needs and doing benchmark research on the competition.

After this, you’ll need another 2 hours to gather and analyze your findings. After that, you have 2 hours to work on a presentation and report.

For these three separate blocks of time, when will you track the time spent on each of them? How much time did you spend on each task? Consultant time tracking is essential for transparency and resource optimization (when needed).

Profit vs Revenue

Learn everything about these metrics and their meaning in a success of a business.

Time tracking software for consultants

Having in mind the reasons for which consultant time tracking is necessary, and dare we say, even a standard for consulting services, the tool used in this pursuit has a big impact.

And there’s a lot of options for tracking time:

from an email or timesheet that requires a lot of manual work to an automated platform that brings extra benefits such as reporting, billing, and scheduling of breaks.

The choice depends on your needs and preferences, however, it must include some key features. We’re listing here all the features that should be part of the best time-tracking software for you.

Priority should be given to a tool that:

  • It’s versatile: It’s able to track time across clients, projects, and tasks;
  • Offers customizable consultant timesheets that can be edited seamlessly and efficiently;
  • Offers automated visual project reports that allow consultants to keep clients and stakeholders up to date on the progress;
  • Offers flexible time logs, with the choice to track both automatically and manually;
  • Offers security and privacy for your data – in this case, data could be stored locally only;
  • Offers the option to track both billable and nonbillable hours, which helps you to bill clients accurately;
  • Allows seamless integration with the finance system used by the consultant, or other apps (calendars, e-mails, Asana, Gitlab, Slack, etc);
  • Has dashboards that can be customized to your needs, with features like budget tracking to control project costs, work hours, or leave tracking;
  • Has a friendly user interface so no time is wasted in the process.

Success Story: discover how consultants improved their productivity with time tracking

What time-tracking software to use as a consultant? 

Timeular

Timeular is a versatile time-recording app that offers consultants flexible ways of tracking and managing their time, while freeing up more time to scale consulting services. From tracking time physically, to manually and automatically, Timeular makes it easy to stay on top of projects, and improve productivity. It helps consultants to capture both billable and non-billable hours, while keeping track of budgets accurately.

Timeular offers transparent, sharable, and automated reporting, making it easier for consultants, so they can be on top of things.

Other features that can be relevant for consultants within Timeular are overtime, leave and work hours tracking.

Conclusion

As “time is money” weights differently for a consultant, time tracking comes up as a necessary evil, with countless benefits, as mentioned in this article.

To speed up the tracking process, you should consider using an automated time tracking tool that goes beyond a template’s limited features and basic functionality. You’d need a tool that has a user friendly interface, generates automated reports for your clients, and allows you to track fast, based on your preferred way.

Such features will free up your time to focus on what matters while having better client relationships, better estimations, and ultimately increasing productivity and profitability.

Read also: Timekeeping policy

FAQ

What are the benefits of time tracking software for consultants?

The main benefits of a consultant time tracking software are the possibility of managing time more efficiently and effectively, preventing the misuse or overuse of resources and minimizing revenue loss.

How do consultants track their time?

Consultants might choose to track time using automated time tracking software, a customized calendar, an email, manually logging in to an Excel spreadsheet – consultant timesheet, or other documents.
Regardless of the solution used, providing a customer with transparent evidence of the work provided, will make them more enticed to add their credit card on.

Is time tracking an effective practice? 

Yes, time tracking is effective. It’s the best method for consulting firms and other industries to allocate their resources more efficiently and avoid time wasters that can lead to loss of revenue.