I always believed there was something wrong with timesheets.
Timesheets were “Normal”
Starting out at KPMG, I remember from day 1 that I had to get X amount of chargeable hours per day to be seen as ‘Good’ in the light of my managers. The other KPI that I learned quickly was that the least amount of hours on a job and the closer to the budgeted hours, the more brownie points too.
In my first performance review I got an ‘EP’ for ‘Exceptional Performance’, or a 1 on a scale of 1 to 9. This was because at my relatively low hourly rate, I was churning out more work in a fraction of last year’s budget. This meant low ‘write-off’s’ or even the occasional ‘write-on‘. Ooh, how ethical!
And not only that, the hours I put down in my timesheet very rarely reflected the actual amount of time I spent on the job.
So fast forward a good 6 years, when I’m sitting in my office in the early part of 2013, after I had just started Inspire CA. I’m wondering what software to use for Practice Managent or Work Flow Management and a big factor is whether or not I charge by the hour. In the end, I chose an option that included the ability to use timesheets, I just didn’t do them straight away.
For the first few months when I was on my own, I would be quoting work on a fixed price basis, using the following formula:
My hourly rate X how many hours I think it would take = the fixed price.
So How Did I Keep Track of Jobs?
The problem came when I hired my first two team members. I kept asking myself, “How do I keep track of what they’re working on?”.
I never liked filling out timesheets. I’m not sure if anyone does, really. But in any case, I implemented timesheets for the firm.
It seemed like the most appropriate way of keeping track and charging, just because it is what I knew.
Timesheets Lasted a Fortnight
Two weeks later on a Friday afternoon, they were gone again.
Why? Very simply: I was asking my team to fill them out, but I wasn’t doing them myself.
So I needed another way of keeping across the team performance, work flow management and pricing projects.
Here’s the 3 Rules I Implemented, Quickly
- All projects were tracked both visually (on a whiteboard) and on a cloud work flow management system
- All projects quoted were based on the value of the service being delivered (very little to do with the time involved)
- All customers paid for projects before the work began – it was the trade-off for having certainty of scope and price
We still have these rules to this day at Inspire CA, and it works really well. It has been a learning curve both in work flow management and pricing to the value of the service, but we haven’t looked back.
And the team don’t resent us dropping the timesheets either! Funny that… 🙂