"All I need while I’m on the road is my iPhone and iPad. I can sit in a cafe and connect with my team exactly as if I was in my office.”"

-Tim Hoopmann, Cornerstone Bookkeeping, Sydney NSW

Tim Hoopmann Reveals the Productivity Boosting Secrets of Working Anywhere

If the idea of working from the beach sounds good to you, then Tim Hoopmann from Cornerstone Bookkeeping is someone you’d definitely enjoy speaking to.

Tim is a CEO and an acknowledged expert in cloud computing with an infectious passion for what a growing number of Australian business owners are able to do with their time thanks to the freedom that mobile apps are giving them. Fresh from a recent trip to Brisbane and Perth, he says he now finds it hard to imagine life without mobile technology.

“I don’t know how I was able to run my business as I did when it was all manual and paper based,” Tim explains. “I look back on it and I wonder, how did I survive doing that? Because now I have way more time to actually run the business.

“All I need while I’m on the road is my iPhone and iPad. I can sit in a cafe, somebody else’s office, or my hotel, and I can connect with my team exactly as if I was in my office.”

Track time to make time

One of the apps on Tim’s iPhone is TSheets, which every member of his growing team of bookkeepers and accountants uses to track their hours. Another app you’ll find is Xero, which is how Tim manages his own company’s payroll as well as many of his clients’ — more than 60% of whom, he says, are now requesting cloud-based solutions like these.

"The integration between Xero and TSheets is great,” Tim explains, “because it streamlines our payroll and makes it easier to manage. With one copy of our timesheet data we’re not doubling up on anything so I don’t have to go back and check it again, which saves me time.”

And that’s time that Tim prefers to spend elsewhere — whether that’s out with his clients or creating new business opportunities.

Tim adds, “Everything we do internally at Cornerstone and everything we do for our customers is driven by cloud computing.

Access anything, anytime

“For our clients, we focus on how to run a business when you’re on the go—how to access information anywhere, anytime, and be completely in control of your business no matter where you are. At Cornerstone we use a lot of progressive collaboration tools like Slack, Asana, and Skype so it doesn’t matter where you are, you’re still part of the discussion.

“With TSheets, the uptake with staff has been one hundred percent from day one. It’s a really, really good tool. I can now see what’s going on in the business at any time, but from a distance. TSheets shows me who’s working and what they’re working on.”

The major focus for Tim, not just in his own business but in the advice he gives to other business owners, is productivity — and he says the integration between Xero and TSheets is a great example of this.

"I often recommend that business owners move to Xero so they can stop using a myriad of spreadsheets and give themselves ‘one source of truth’ for all their business data. We also recommend TSheets because it’s a very effective time tracking and productivity tool, and this makes the new integration between them a key part of the service we offer.

“When it’s time to pay the team, the approved hours are seamlessly exported to Xero payroll. Thanks to TSheets and Xero, payroll is effortless. By adopting new technology like this, you can get more time back to use in your business. It’s not just about cutting costs, it’s more to do with increasing productivity.”

Work smarter, not longer

Tim believes strongly in maintaining a good work-life balance, adding, “If you just ask people to work longer hours, it’s not going to work.” And research by John Pencavel of Stanford University published last year supports this. Pencavel found that employees’ output falls sharply the longer they work and that if they work more than 55 hours in a week, there is no increase in output at all.

“Time tracking is also a good discipline to get into,” Tim continues. “It’s much easier to have conversations with your team when people say things like ‘we don’t have enough time for this project’ because all the facts are there and you can look at them together.

“I also don’t like to see my team working long hours every day because a good work-life balance is important to me, and I think it should be important to them as well. If they are here until eight o’clock every night they will burn themselves out, and I don’t want that.”

So when it comes to boosting productivity, technology isn’t the only answer. It also comes from having a happy, well-motivated team—and this is another area of interest Tim shares with TSheets.

Finding the right fit

“I need people in my business who are really passionate about technology and cloud accounting, and about helping customers to improve their processes and save time. I put a lot of trust in my team and do so very early on so they have the opportunity to show to me that I’ve made the right decision. You’ve got to employ the right people to do the right job in your business, because as a business owner, you don’t try to do everything yourself, you delegate to the best possible people.”

Tim believes the same rule should apply to cloud technology. First and foremost, it’s got to be the right fit for a business before he recommends it.

“When advising our clients, the first thing I ask is about their approach to change and their approach to technology. I also need to know what their pain points are and whether cloud technology can help to solve them. Some people are ready to make the move straight away, some need to follow a bit of a journey to get there, and others may be better off staying where they are for now.”

Tim only recommends software that he has tried himself — which is how he first came across TSheets.

Restarting the time clock

“Before TSheets, we had actually stopped recording time altogether,” Tim reveals. “We’re a bookkeeping business that works on fixed prices. We call it value pricing. And we moved away from time billing a very long time ago.”

Which is why Tim thought time tracking wasn’t needed anymore.

“But then, along comes TSheets, and we reintroduce time tracking, and I discover it’s a great way for me to analyse our productivity.

“My favourite features are the ‘Overview’ and ‘Who’s Working’ tabs on the mobile app because I can see who’s helping our customers. If I want to burrow down into the other things then I’ll get onto the TSheets website to use the desktop version where I can run reports and look in more detail at what time has been spent on each customer.”

Why is this kind of data so valuable?

“The first three months with any new client is always vital,” Tim says. “We need to make sure that we are on track with what we quoted and how much time it has taken. We’ve also now got three people working remotely and it’s much easier to manage them when they are tracking their tasks all the time.

Try before you buy

“We always like to try products and add-ons before we promote them and whenever I’m on the road talking to people, as I have been recently in Brisbane and Perth, I show them how it is operating in my business. I hold up my phone and show them who’s working and what’s happening.”

One of the clients Tim has recently recommended TSheets to is a restaurant that his company does bookkeeping for.

“The owner isn’t in the restaurant all the time and he wants to make sure that his staff are clocking in and clocking out at the right times,” he explains, “so he knows that they are actually there when they’re scheduled to work.”

He adds that TSheets is also a natural fit for any businesses with teams on the road.

“One of our clients is an engineering company which wants to improve productivity as well as know where their employees are during the day and what they are working on so they can keep an eye on their costs. I think TSheets will be ideal for them.”

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