Time tracking is painful for small businesses and something that staff members often forget to do. This is particularly true for trade and construction businesses who often move around between jobs and don’t get a lot of desk time .
Time is the bread and butter of small service businesses. Whether you charge a fixed price or by the hour for your services, you need to know how much time is spent on a job in order to gauge profitability, and to quote more accurately next time. Time is equally as important for hourly-rate employees who get paid for the time they record on their timesheets.
Location, location, location!
Now, a new feature in the Xero Projects app suggests time entries against a project based on the time spent at a particular location. This means no more manual tracking of how long you (or your employees) have spent on the job.
Rather than track every move, the app uses geo-fencing to register when you arrive at a site and then automatically stops the clock when you leave. Geo-fencing means your device recognises it has entered a set location and that triggers an action – in this case to start timing how long you spend there.
Xero only stores your location data on your mobile device. It’s not saved anywhere else and the details aren’t shared, so your privacy is maintained and you operate in an environment of trust. (You can check out our privacy terms for more about how we collect and store your data.)
Because the locations that you add to a project aren’t shared, each team member needs to set up the locations for the jobs they’re working on in order to get automatic time suggestions.
How it works
Using the location-based time entry feature has minimal impact on your device battery and doesn’t use any mobile data. Here’s how it works:
- Make sure you have the latest version of the Xero Projects app.
- Select a project and tap the + icon to add one or more locations for a job.
- Tap Always Allow to give Xero Projects access to your location.
- In the time entries tab, view suggestions based on how much time you spent at each location.
- Review, and save or discard the suggestions.
Read more in the support article on enabling suggested time entries by location at Xero Central.
Why it’s important to keep track
Keeping tabs on the time and materials that go into a project is the only way to know if your price is right and the job is profitable. By tracking time across your project, you’re able to:
- understand what project tasks take the most time and cost you the most money
- quote more accurately on future projects
- experiment and allocate staff to work on high-value tasks first or where they’re needed most
- bill accurately if you’re charging by the hour, or rein in the job if needed to ensure the fixed fee covers all your time and expenses.
Not using Xero Projects for mobile? Get it on iOS or Android now!
Not using Xero Projects?
Projects is free to trial for the first month and available to trial in the Xero demo company. You can also find out more about Xero Projects here.
If you’re an accountant or bookkeeper, visit our dedicated feature page for practices to download our toolkit with an overview of how Xero Projects can help you and your clients.
We love getting feedback, so please leave us a comment and let know what you think.
Love this feature, it is extremely useful! Any update on the Android version? A number of our team members have Android phones and are keen to have this location-aware ability too.
Hi Andrew, great to hear! We’re not far off with this feature for the Projects Android app and will hopefully have an update available before the end of the month.
Hi Monique, just wondering if there is any update on this feature for Android yet?
Hi Maree, good news! Auto time tracking is now available on Android devices.
Unfortunately this feature took a lot longer than expected. Due to Covid, the team could not move about to test the location tracking functionality.
Thanks for being patient with us! 🙂
Epic! I’m really looking forward to the Android version of this. To make it even better, it would be great if it could determine travel to and from a site and suggest adding mileage charges. Take it one step further and read the time (if available) & date on expenses and suggest what project they may relate to.
Hi Joshua, glad to hear you enjoyed the article. Thanks so much for your suggestions, I will pass them to our Product Team. Cheers, ^BA
This is an amazing feature but each project location needs to be added to each device/user individually. It would be great if I could put the location in and have it roll out to all our contractors/staff…
Hi Harrison, thanks for your comment and for your feedback. I will pass this on to my team. Cheers, ^BA
Hi, can staff adjust the time of arrival and departure for this feature?
Hi Tracey, thanks so much for your comment. Yes – the auto time tracking feature suggests a time entry with arrival and departure time, but before accepting the suggestion and saving it, staff can edit any of the details on the time entry. Hope that helps.