Time is an often overlooked resource in business efficiency, but in many ways, it’s the most valuable one. Even if you had the money to pay every employee to work 100 hours a week, you won’t generally be able to convince them to give those hours to you.

You can’t return hours and you can’t order more — so measuring how you’re currently spending your time is an important safeguard against potential time wasters. Find the answers to the following questions:

  • How many hours does each employee spend at work each week?

  • How many breaks do employees take? How do they spend this break time? Are legally mandated breaks being honored?

  • How many hours each week are employees engaged in non-work-related activities at work (such as surfing Facebook)?

  • How long, in minutes, does it take for a customer support ticket to be resolved satisfactorily?

  • How long is the average sales call? Support call?

  • How long does it take to convert a customer from first point of contact to a first sale?

  • How many hours does each employee spend in meetings each week?

  • How long does it take to receive approval for a $50 expense? A $500 one? A $15,000 one?

  • How long is your cycle time? Cycle time is how long it takes your product to move through the entire assembly process.

  • How long is your lead time? That is, the time between receiving an order to the delivery of that same order.

  • What’s your Takt Time? This is the minimum rate at which you must operate in order to keep up with customer orders.

Measuring time is rarely black and white, especially when it comes to measuring how humans spend their time. A ten-second customer support call is probably not efficient, and sometimes a couple of minutes of chitchat is what it takes to create a personal connection between a customer and your company. While important to track, you need to look at other metrics before acting on time measurements alone.