Activity Analytics: Is your company using time efficiently?

Time is an organization's most precious resource. How people in your organization spend their time, working and collaborating, has a huge impact on your chances of success. Yet organizations continue to waste thousands of hours of peoples' scarce time on unnecessary meetings, coordination and bureaucracy.

Studies have found that mid-level managers spend up to 18 hrs a week in meetings and on email, and as much as 50% of that time is unnecessary [1][2][3]. People are continually invited to meetings they don't need to be in or copied on email threads they don't really need to read. That's over 9 hours a week wasted!

Hidden Costs

In addition, modern organizations are complex and noisy places. It's challenging to get a clear sense of how hundreds or thousands of people are spending time at work. Think about the myriad of time-consuming activities involved in running an annual performance review or closing a large sale. These complex initiatives involve many individuals, across many departments, and require significant time investment. Sometimes thousands of hours or millions of dollars worth of peoples' time!

Key management with Google Cloud KMS

Complex initiatives often involve a large number of individuals and require a lot of valuable time.

We dedicate many resources to financial accounting but who's accounting for where all your employees' time is being spent? How does your business think about where these precious resources are allocated? What are the hidden costs people face when trying to get things done? How much of this time is wasted on unnecessary coordination and management overhead? How does your organization compare with other businesses in these areas?

Gaining insight into these questions used to be challenging, if not impossible. It usually involved manual minute-by-minute assessments of how employees spent their time. Literally watching how teams work and taking notes on the process. This is difficult to do in any large organization and is yet another time-consuming task!

By anonymously analyzing data from productivity tools we are now able to automate this process. Using Activity Analytics we provide organizations with in-depth visibility into how their teams and departments spend time.

Activity Analytics

As organizations undergo rapid digital transformation, people are using an ever increasing number of digital tools to get things done. It started with email, calendar and Office but soon progressed to project management, customer care, sales, operations, IT and many other types of work. As people complete their work using these tools, they leave behind a rich set of data on what, how long and who was involved. This data is commonly referred to as IT Metadata and I have written before about its many uses. You can read more about it here.

In Activity Analytics we analyze IT Metadata with the goal of understanding how teams and departments spend time working together. We want to learn about the various activities, social interactions and processes involved in getting things done. This type of analysis allows us to compare groups and answer questions about what makes some teams and departments more successful than others. It also allows us to gain a better understanding of what it costs to get things done inside a business. How much process, bureaucracy or coordination overhead is inherent within various parts of an organization?

Key management with Google Cloud KMS

Gathering IT metadata from cloud-based productivity tools

Activity Analytics provide unprecedented visibility into where your organizations resources are being allocated. Our reports break down how teams and departments spend time in activities like meetings, email and projects, customer care, sales and more. They also let users compare employee groups, both internally as well as against external benchmarks.

Key management with Google Cloud KMS

High-level comparison of how various departments within an organization spend time

Our reports are designed to highlight inefficiencies and opportunities for improvement. They provide an in-depth view into what a typical week within a team or department looks like. This gives decisions makers a clear sense of how much time teams allocate to different tasks, as they work together. These insights help point out work habits that lead some groups to be more successful than others or that are potentially problematic in the long term.

As an example, we have identified a number of IT development teams that spend less than 50% on their available time on development work, their core focus. The rest of their time is spent on process, management and coordination. These patterns result in frequent late or unsuccessful delivery of key projects.

Key management with Google Cloud KMS

What does the week in the life of an average member of a team or department look like?

Our coordination reports let you dive in and compare how specific teams and departments spend time coordinating. You can break this down to see which channels people typically use including, email, messaging and meetings. Reports also include estimates for the real dollar-value of time spent on these activities. This is calculated by considering the average hourly rate of FTEs within groups.

Key management with Google Cloud KMS

How much time does this team spend coordinating over email and in meetings?

In addition we provide tools to help organizations visualize how teams are spending time collaborating with one another. These reports show how much load different departments within an organization put on each other. We've used these to help answer questions like how much of an operations departments' time do other departments within an organization consume? This helps organizations measure how the time of central resources is allocated across the company. It also highlights whether some teams may be overloading others, with too much communication or requests for assistance.

Key management with Google Cloud KMS

Organizational Network Analysis showing how teams interact and consume each others time. Colors indicate direct
ion of interaction.

We have analyzed the activity data of over 100 organizations and 20 000 teams, across a variety of industries. As more and more work is performed using digital tools the value and importance of this type of analysis continues to grow.

Many of the reports above are available in our self-serve tool and you can try them out in your own organization by signing up for a free trial . We also provide consulting services for custom or in-depth analyses and we'd love to hear from you!

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