Getting the most out of your time sheets.

For most companies, time sheeting is a necessary evil. Nobody likes to do it, but you need to, so that you can bill. For these companies, the less time they have to think about time sheets, the better. In actuality, the time sheet is an incredibly powerful tool to manage your business.

In order to utilize your time sheet capabilities, you need to take it seriously and recognize how important it actually is.

The biggest part of taking time sheets seriously is using a good application. There are a ton out there, but you need to take the time to find one that is easy to use and fits your business. Everyone in your organization is touching time sheets. It’s one of the few applications you have that everyone uses. If it’s not a good fit then it just weighs you down.

Death by a thousand cuts

Just think, if everyone in your organization spent an extra 15 minutes a week struggling with a sub-optimal time sheet application. For a 50 person company, that is easily over $60,000 a year in lost billing. You don’t notice it because it’s spread out. You’re also annoying your staff and that chips away at morale and engagement. There’s an intangible cost there that’s even higher.

Once you have a good time sheet app, you need to use it with serious intent. The entries have to be timely and accurate. This usually means doing them more often than less. Weekly is what I recommend. This is infrequent enough that it’s not oppressive, but often enough that you get timely information, and more importantly, people can remember what they were doing. Forgetting is actually a big problem. Consulting companies find over and over that when they do time sheets, more often their billable time goes up.

Entering time sheets weekly also establishes a cadence. Every Friday, everyone knows their time sheet is due. Every Monday, they know they need to do their approvals. There’s a lot of good in predictability - people are much more compliant. You could, for example, do time sheets semi-monthly (due on the 15th and then end of month). This is convenient for billing, but it means that the end of the time sheet period is falling on a different day every time. Which  results in wasted time, reminding people, and then chasing them down when they don’t submit their time sheet.

Also, semi-monthly is more than a two week time span between periods so your data is not as fresh. The more often you put your time in the application, the more up to date your time sheet data will be. If you can get your people to update their time sheets daily then you will have data up to the day. If you are managing a project to a tight budget this can be a godsend.

Investing in time tracking pays you back many times what you put in to it.  Here’s a great example of this - RoseRyan Inc., one of Bizinta’s original clients, had a time sheet app that was so called ‘good enough’. It didn’t really match their business, and it was difficult to use and error prone.  After a long time of advising them of the benefits a new system would bring, they finally made the plunge. Bizinta, wasn’t just better, it was transformative to their business. The time sheeting cost was chopped in half. The rank and file was happier, and more engaged with a key process. The managers were empowered because the time reporting became more timely and accurate, and a major impediment to growth was removed.