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DATA DETECTIVES

You Need to Start Measuring How Much Time Your Company Wastes

Time is your company's scarcest resource, so it's vital to know how much you're squandering with meetings, email, and small inefficiencies.
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How much time is your company wasting? It's a serious question. If your day-to-day operations and meetings are frittering the day away, you should realize that you're essentially giving away money.

Ryan Fuller, CEO and co-founder of workforce management software company VoloMetrix, writes in the Harvard Business Review that a typical tech executive spends 44 hours per week in meetings and another twenty-two hours fielding email. That's 66 hours a week where they're pulled away from other, often more important tasks.

To combat the problem, many businesses are turning to people analytics, a way to quantify where company time goes. Algorithms can mine the company's email, calendars, and messaging tools to find averages of how employees at all levels spend time at work. Once you have the data, you can have a clear understanding of what is necessary and what is wasteful.

Fuller says you can also use a method called time fragmentation to break down how many hours a week your employees are able to devote to productive work. He writes that "thoughtful work" takes more than 30 minutes to achieve. If there's an interruption, it takes 15 minutes just to return to the productive state. "When meetings and other workplace realities (such as email, hallway conversations, phone calls, bathroom, and coffee breaks, etc.) are taken into account, a two-hour time block realistically equates to one hour of productive work," he says.

Below, read about the benefits Fuller says people analytics can afford a company.

Pinpoint expensive mistakes

Errors, no matter how small, can turn into huge costs. Taking a look at your time budget can identify mistakes and help you avoid making them again. "A large IT organization we work with combed through its organizational time budget for a big systems integration project and found that a trivial requirement missed by a vendor cost $86,000 in its own peoples' time to fix later on," Fuller writes.

Manage partner relations

How many companies has your company partnered with? Who is responsible for each relationship? This is an area you should also investigate, for partnerships are meant to help you save time and money while receiving a benefit like more content, cheaper materials, or wider distribution channels. Fuller cites the example of "a new media company working with a partner company [that] discovered it had over twice the number of their own employees working to support that relationship, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own peoples' time." 

Personalize feedback

Fuller gives the example of another tech company that issued personalized weekly reports to each employee and manager to help them better focus on priorities. "The reports were used for performance conversations to identify the issues and specific projects that were distracting people from the work that mattered most," he writes.

Don't expect a cure-all

Although people analytics is great at showing neat, visible patterns, it's not going to magically change your company's time management, Fuller writes. As a leader, you need to make sure to view the data in the proper context. Then you can cut the fat and unnecessary processes.

IMAGE: Everett Collection
Last updated: May 29, 2014

WILL YAKOWICZ | Staff Writer | Reporter, Inc.com

Will Yakowicz is a staff writer for Inc. magazine. He has covered business, crime, and local politics for The Brooklyn Paper and was the editor of Park Slope Patch. He has also reported in the West Bank and Moscow for Tablet Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.




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