Monitoring of Fees and Time Records
For Invoicing, law firms, accountants, consultancies, and other professional services firms (whose principle activity is to “sell time”) need their staff to track and account for time accurately, so that they can invoice their clients correctly.
Professional services firms also want their people to maximize the amount of time they devote to generating revenue, while minimising the amount of time spent on administrative duties. By tracking time, they record how productive each person is by measuring the proportion of each day that he or she spends on chargeable work.
Recording the time spent on fixed price work allows the firm to analyze how accurate their estimating process is. If it turns out that work is regularly taking longer than expected, even when highly efficient people are doing it, this obviously eats into profits. On the other hand, if the reverse is true, businesses may lose work because their bids are noncompetitive.
Types of Timekeeping Systems
People often think of this system first. Traditional time clocks used punch cards that were stamped with the time and date at the beginning of a worker’s shift, and then stamped again at the end. Time cards were then sent to payroll to be processed each pay period.
Today, this information is usually sent electronically, and can be tracked very accurately. There are portable systems that can be taken to different work sites – for example, in the construction industry. There are even biometric devices that use fingerprint recognition. This type of system provides added assurance that the person “clocking in” is actually in attendance.
Time sheets are used to track items like attendance, break time, project time, and billable hours. They may include hourly rates and expense information. This then helps you evaluate time by worker, task, project, and client. Time sheets are very customisable and can be tailored to meet the exact needs of your organisation. They can either take the form of a spreadsheet, or a special time-tracking application that’s part of the organisation’s accounting software.
Computer-based Time Recording
These are computer applications that track the time someone spends working on specific projects or with particular clients.
There are two categories of software. The first type allows you to switch back and forth between tasks. This way, you can track hours per project, distinguish between billable and non-billable tasks, manage absences, calculate overtime, and print reports automatically.
The second type runs in the background of your computer and records exactly what you’re working on each second of the day. The software operates by continuously taking screen shots, and it allows you to quickly recall what you worked on, and for how long.