Do you know the true cost of a client engagement? If you’re putting off recording your time, reconstructing your day based on memory, you probably don’t – and are discounting the valuable financial services you provide.
Ironically, timekeeping itself can become hours of unbillable overhead. Spreadsheets and manual online tools are tedious, and a lack of policies leads to delayed recording or missed activities. This inaccurate data is then used to create new estimates for projects — and the cycle continues.
You didn’t study accounting to crunch numbers on time cards; however, you can gain tremendous insight from the data captured, which can inform better pricing decisions, improve customer experience with more predictable project delivery timelines, and maximise revenue and profitability.
Develop competitive, profitable pricing
Higher-quality data allows you to gain competitive advantage and drive better performance — if the information upon which business decisions are based lacks quality, so will those decisions. Without an efficient way to record time properly, a gap develops. For example, in an accounting firm with 3,000 employees, a single unrecorded hour a week per employee, at an hourly rate of £254, represents a £38m difference in estimated versus actual cost over a year.
More accurate time recording is beneficial in client engagements with fixed-fee pricing. A fixed-fee pricing model doesn’t incentivise timekeeping ― and no one wants to admit going over budget ― so there’s a persistent problem of under-reporting that feeds into the model. Without better insight on actual costs, a pattern of under-budgeting develops, resulting in discounts, adjustments, write-downs, write-offs, bill rejections, and lock-up days.
Renegotiating fixed-fee projects can be difficult, affecting a firm’s credibility. Accurate timekeeping provides visibility into which activities and clients are demanding the most resources, so inefficient processes can be optimised and talent better allocated. It also allows you to capture detailed narratives for price defence. When an otherwise standard project encounters additional complexity, such as a tax filing with multi-country reconciling that requires additional geographic-specific research, your invoice justifies the extra investment.
Elevate the practice of tracking time
Clients are demanding that their service providers deliver the data-driven insights enabled by advanced technology. According to a survey from Forbes Insights, clients now view technology skills as most important for their auditors in the future. Not only can technology enhance the quality of your work, but it can also help you deliver more value to your clients and business.
Time tracking software streamlines the administration and removes the guesswork associated with timekeeping. Artificial intelligence (AI) captures your tasks and provides an unbiased view of how you’re tracking to project milestones, as well as how your time is allocated, to manage it better at both an individual and firm level. An automated timekeeping solution can also collect a broader set of data across projects, tasks and people for resource planning.
Top four timekeeping tips
In today’s fast-paced, multi-tasking work environment, you can embrace technology to elevate your timekeeping with four best practices:
- Adopt policies that drive consistency. By establishing clear guidelines—for example, how to record travel or juggling a call from one client while en route to another—timekeeping becomes more accurate and consistent. These policies are enforceable with technology and should align with client requirements to translate directly to invoices.
- Don’t fear data. Better data informs better pricing. Shifting from viewing timekeeping as recording hours for billing to helping you understand what it costs to deliver services will allow your business to be more competitive and profitable. Technology that automatically captures client activity and implements guidelines will ensure your time is properly valued.
- Record anytime, anywhere. Client work is no longer tethered to the office. Your timekeeping solution must be accessible anywhere business is conducted, not just on a computer. Mobile access and application programming interface (API) integrations into other employee and client-engagement software make it easier to capture time in real time.
- Let technology adapt to your way of working. Your technology should align with your work, not the other way around. Capabilities such as passive capture that integrate into daily activities for automated time tracking recommendations across client engagements, calendar views or pre-populated data make timekeeping a seamless part of the workday.
Will you be leading the pack or falling behind?
Inaccurate timekeeping contributes to a lack of information on projects, budget overruns and a loss of profit margins. Your expert knowledge, measured in the time you dedicate to your clients, is your most valuable asset, so stop discounting your services because of inadequate tracking. Stay ahead of the competition by viewing your time — and timekeeping — differently.