Independent contractors (freelancers, the self employed, the gig economy, or however you refer to it) are expected to make up half of the American workforce within the decade. Growth is driven by employers looking for specialized workers on demand, and workers themselves who are willingly making the switch. Both parties must adapt to the change.
Any company hiring independent contractors can attest to the challenges and risks. They include compliance with changing regulations, liability concerns, audits, missed deadlines, miscommunication, and unclear or unrealistic expectations. Time is money for any business. However, it’s particularly important in the gig economy, where contractors bill by the hour, work remotely, and juggle multiple clients. Effective time management and tracking can not only resolve many of these issues, but also boost revenue for both contractors and their clients.
Since 2016, the company Dashe & Thomson has been using BeeBole Timesheet to manage their growing team of independent consultants, and they’ve saved plenty of time and money in the process.
Training a Diverse Workforce
While difficult to imagine, there was once a time when computers weren’t commonplace in the office. It was during this digital prehistory, in 1981 to be exact, that Dashe & Thomson began publishing user manuals. As computers became available to the masses, businesses looked desperately for training on their use. Dashe & Thomson met the challenge, and began its evolution into the corporate eLearning provider that it is today.
Today, Dashe & Thomson crafts custom training and communications services for all types of organizations and businesses. It’s all about improving workplace performance. They specialize in instructional design and curriculum development, eLearning, learning portals, change management, and employee communication. A look at Dashe & Thomson’s client list proves they’re quite good at what they do. They’ve worked with powerhouses like General Mills, Lululemon Athletica, Best Buy, McGraw-Hill, and more.
At any given time, the company is working with a fluid team of 20-30 consultants. For the past two years they’ve counted on BeeBole Timesheet to help manage these contractors, along with their own staff. Specifically, they’re overseen by David Berget, Dashe & Thomson’s Operations Manager since 2014. David supervises business procedures and manages profitability across multiple projects. As he points out, a more accurate job title might be “Fire Extinguisher”.
Recently, we spoke with David about how time tracking has saved Dashe & Thomson both time and money over the years.
Streamlining Administrative Processes
Despite its impressive client list and heavy workload, Dashe & Thomson only employs a small team of around 15 permanent staff. Therefore, each team member wears many hats, and things can get hectic. A system for keeping track of consultants, tasks, time, and resources is essential. “The biggest challenge is balancing everything – all the different tasks that come in – with the big picture,” explains David. “That’s where good tools make it easier.”
For example, David uses BeeBole’s team overview feature to get a quick and clear snapshot of a project’s status, including what each consultant is working on. This way, resources can be quickly reallocated and small problems can be resolved before turning into fires that will take additional time and money to put out. It’s fast and easy to identify projects or clients that may be neglected, as well as those that are going over budget.
What’s more, the business intelligence provided by BeeBole allows David to focus on strategy in the long term. He can ensure that Dashe & Thomson is maximizing profitability, optimizing budgets, and improving forecasting. Sounds complicated, but time tracking is a simple way to gain insights and better prioritize work, leading to increased productivity.
Easy Timesheets for Consultant Management
Given that Dashe & Thomson employs more consultants than permanent staff, efficiently managing those contractors was a key priority when selecting a time tracking software. “Because we’ve got so many consultants, what we need is pretty specific to manage the workforce,” David says. “Ease of use is key because consultants honestly aren’t that patient.”
Actually convincing workers to track their time, whether independent contractors or employees, is a common obstacle across industries. While part of the problem may stem from privacy concerns, for the most part it’s ease of use. Features like an intuitive interface and flexible time entry help. David can also program automated reminders, so he doesn’t have to waste time tracking down colleagues who haven’t submitted timesheets. Furthermore, remote consultants can track time and submit hours with the mobile app, which works offline and syncs automatically.
“We were on a different tracking system before – an outdated timesheet function that was really clunky,” says David. While he had to push a bit to convince management to make the switch, he says that since changing to BeeBole, “there’s been really positive feedback from my direct staff, and consultants as well.”
The Bottom Line: Saving Time and Money
Keeping close track of contractors will ease liability concerns, streamline payroll, improve communications, and save you in the case of an audit or dispute. However, when it comes down to it, companies use time tracking with the ultimate goal of saving time and money. Dashe & Thomson is no exception. These savings could manifest in administrative overhead, minimizing “time theft“, more accurate invoicing, or determining which projects are profitable, and which are sucking up time and resources.
In the case of Dashe & Thomson, there have been additional savings in David’s day to day. “It (BeeBole) saves me a lot of time,” he says. For example, “I went from taking 4-5 minutes to set up each new user, to just a few seconds with BeeBole. That adds up pretty quickly.” Specifically, David says BeeBole has saved him several hours each month. “Switching to BeeBole has made my life a lot easier.”
Photo by ikukevk on Unsplash.