Time = Money. Who wants to read this? No one, I’m sure. That’s because no one likes to do timesheets.
Let me tell you why you should care. Because you want to make money. Money keeps the agency open – and sharing it makes everyone happy to be there.
One of the ways to make money is to know who is spending it and what they’re spending it on. That comes down to ‘billable hours’ and tracking those hours. Accurately.
Professionals track time. Lawyers do, doctors do (yep, short or long office visits bill differently), and your plumber starts tracking time when he leaves his last job to come to your house and fix your leaky faucet. You are a professional and you should be paid for what you put into a project.
Require all your creative, account and production staff to do timesheets. Every day. No exceptions. I would have partners track time as well - because their time is valuable.
To make that process easy for accounting, and reduce whining from staff, get a centralized system for entering time. There are a lot of terrific systems out there, easy to access, and they pull everything together. Let me know if you need help.
A few suggestions:
Every job should have a job number
(understanding how different projects accrue time is enlightening)
- Every time an employee touches a job, they should post time to the job
- All time must be accurate – not what is estimated, not eight hours because that’s all you ‘work’ in a day – what you actually put in on that job
- Time entered – at the very least – before staff leaves for the day (it’s even better if they track it as they go
- Commitment from management to not fold to whining
So you've been profitable? Profits hide a multitude of sins. It’s all great until one day – you’re not profitable and you don’t know why.
Tracking time will give you the foundation to see how many hours are spent on different types of projects, which clients require more hours, and individuals who spend an inordinate amount of time without good reason. (This reveals issues ranging from lack of training to poorly-managed clients.)
Your clients are fee? Is that fee covering the actual hours you’re putting in on that client? Are you over-servicing? Are your clients asking for more value? Or perhaps a reduction in fee? Showing them how much you have put into their projects provides solid evidence when you’re in a review.
Starting the New Year, make the big decision to get ahead. Track time, and then compare it to your estimates.
Oh, you don’t do estimates? You should. We’ll talk about that later.