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A recommendation for people like me

For those who struggle (to remember) to record time spent on jobs, I've found the perfect software

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I charge clients fixed fees, like many, but I believe it is good practice to internally record and monitor the time spent working on jobs.  The problem is, I often move from one task to another and (particularly when working under pressure) I forget to clock the time when starting and finishing a task.  

When I was employed many years ago, I was a hard worker but was terrible at logging my time.  It just doesn't come naturally to me. 

In spite of this, I do however recognise the need to know how long I'm spending on particular clients, which clients I'm losing money on etc.   I first of all tried Toggl, which lets you start a timer when you begin a task. Great, I thought, until I was started receiving emails telling me that my timer has been running for 7 hours 50 minutes - I was hopeless at remembering to start the timer and even worse at ending it when the phone rang and I moved onto something else, or had to go out. 

Anyway, always on the lookout for new software, I came across Timely App. It is time tracking software that memorises what you are doing on the computer and logs it. It doesn't miss a trick!

It even connects to my email (so it tracks emails I send from my phone) and can also track your location using GPS. 

Now, I have set up each client and have colour coded tasks for each client, and I click on each task it has picked up and tag it to a client and project. 

It will even create draft time entries using AI and I can then confirm the draft entry, delete it, or tag it to a different client / project. 

It does have a subscription but I'm still on the 14 day trial. I have done a full week of tracking and can now see every single minute spent. 

Most people no doubt are quite capable of recording their own time, but for those like myself who are not,  who procrastinate far too much, and who would like to see where they are spending too much time, I highly recommend this software. 

 

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09th Jul 2019 08:07

I’m very much like you, so thank you for the tip.

A question: you say you’ve “set up the clients” is this a manual process or have you downloaded a list from somewhere?

I’m firm has around 2,500 clients so if it’s a manual set up, this bit of kit won’t work for me

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By johnt27
to James Green
09th Jul 2019 11:13

I've been using Timely for a good while - it's a great piece of kit, but does have a few flaws. It can't always "see" what clients your working on within an app - desktop CT or AP software, for example.

It does have an open API so if you have the skills you can integrate client details and jobs/projects. If not, it's a manual process.

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09th Jul 2019 08:28

Thank you for the tip. I've tried something else last year - can't remember the name - and that irritated me too much.
I can see you've got to get the set up right to begin with.
I will have a go.

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By Maslins
09th Jul 2019 11:35

Interesting. For us, an issue with timesheets is often it's not a case of a day being 3 hours here, 4 hours there. With a relatively large number of relatively small clients, it's more like 5 mins here, 5 mins there. This is a key reason why we hadn't bothered to date, as felt it would be more trouble than it's worth. Intrigued how this would work for a firm like us, may give it a go...

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09th Jul 2019 15:43

Yes, it has opened my eyes, after just one full week and a bit.

The hardest part is setting it up, as I'm 99% sure there is no way of importing clients, so for someone like James Green, it would be tedious.

It can be a pain to set up, but once set up, it works beautifully.

I can see at a glance :
a) what tasks I did for the week. Last week it was mostly Xero processing, followed payroll, then accounts prep,
VAT returns, and emailing clients. Payroll has become quite a task, but last week straddled a lot of month end payrolls for me.

b) Which clients I spent the most time working on. This will be interesting as time goes on and may prompt some way overdue fee increases!

c) How many hours each user logged. The above can also be filtered by user / staff member.

I first set it up where each client was a 'project' and didn't use the 'client' functionality. I had reasons for thinking this would work better but I was wrong.

I now have each client, then projects (which have to be linked to a client) assigned to each client.

Some clients very, but a standard client will be set up as follows:

ABC001 - ABC Ltd
Projects linked to client -
- accounts prep
- xero processing
- tax returns
- payroll
- VAT returns
- communication phone / email
- meetings
- client admin

You can also add tags to each project, so you could have, for example, ABC Ltd > Accounts prep > then a workflow

Like I say, the set up is the most time consuming part. I recommend using the colour coding for each project, so you can see at a glance by colour where time went.

For each project, there is a colour picker, but each colour has a hex code, so for ease, I have a list of the hex codes I use. For example, I just had to add a new client, then added the usual projects - the first one was accounts prep... rather than going into an existing project and copying the hex code, I have them listed in Trello, so that each project has a uniform colour.

My main colours are:
Accounts prep: 40bf50
Client admin: 409cbf
Communication: db3236
Meeting: f032e6
Payroll: 4055bf
Xero processing: 13B5EA
Bookkeeping: 13B5EA
Advice: 8640bf
VAT: 2d8685
Tax returns: 005ea5

I wish they had a method of importing clients and I suspect the lack of this functionality will deter a lot of larger practices.

I have a Windows folder structure, i.e. Clients > then list them a-z, as do many. Instead of typing each client into the software, I slow double clicked on each windows folder name, copied and then pasted into the 'new client' box in the software.

That part is ok with 100-200 clients (I'm still adding clients as they pop up on my timesheet), but adding projects to each client was a bit of a pain.

May not suit everyone, I can only speak for myself, but thought I'd give it a mention.

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to Manchester_man
09th Jul 2019 16:21

Thanks for the further info. Sounds good, but as you say, the set up won’t work for me.

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By RedFive
09th Jul 2019 17:02

Thanks that’s a great tip and I love your in depth description. Anybody told you that you are in the right job? :)

Going to check it out now as I believe we have similar sized businesses / structure re fixed fees and time.

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to RedFive
10th Jul 2019 00:08

RedFive wrote:

Thanks that’s a great tip and I love your in depth description. Anybody told you that you are in the right job? :)

Going to check it out now as I believe we have similar sized businesses / structure re fixed fees and time.

Thanks! Your comment made my day. Trust me, after the afternoon I've had (a puncture and a broken locking wheel nut), I needed it. :-)

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09th Jul 2019 17:58

We’re fixed fee and I especially have an issue with jumping between 20 client things in an hr or 2.

I did look at Timely and was impressed with its claims, but decided the set-up would be horrendous and it wouldn’t track what we do on TaxCalc anyway.

I decided to go back to Harvest (after a 12 month stint with the Glide timesheet module, which was a waste of 12 months data) as we liked the reporting and ease of use. Also you get a little time-related quote each day! I use Harvest Forecast for our job planner and it integrates to give projected budget over/under spends, taking into account actual time & planned time. I have each billable work set up as a project (eg ABC Ltd is on a monthly retainer, then 2019 is one project, 2020 a second etc, to include all payroll, VAT, YE etc relating to that year.) that integration is really useful.
Downside of Forecast is that it’s not built for having lots of clients/projects on the go - you see a separate line for each project each person will be working on in the next 13 weeks. So 50 VAT clients = 50 separate rows on the VAT person’s planner, no matter how they are spread QE-wise. Harvest set-up is a little manual, but sounds like a little less than Timely. Clients & Projects auto-integrate with Forecast, it takes a few minutes to put, say, a years worth of payroll, bkpg, VAT, YE time into the planner - unfortunately whilst ‘weekly occurring’ is an option, monthly isn’t! Pain in the [***].

From a practical point of view, the iPhone app for Harvest is great - I tend to do my timesheet on the tram home. Appreciate that doesn’t make it as accurate as Timely ...

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By Tickers
09th Jul 2019 23:13

The import issue is massive disincentive. I've tinkered with so many crm and timekeeping software that the thoughts of spending hours setting up client list is too much time and energy that I don't have.

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09th Jul 2019 23:59

I would imagine that over the next 12-24 months, more companies will develop automatic time tracking software and / or existing brands like Toggl will start to introduce more automation.

Hopefully one will have the ability to import clients.

It seems to make sense and there is definitely a market for it

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By Mr_awol
10th Jul 2019 11:17

Digita has introduced something similar in its latest practice management suite.

Obviously the Accs Pro module is [***] and Digita isn't exactly cheap once you get the full package going. And Onvio is still only a document management system despite having been launched as if it was a full product about four years ago. But if you can overlook those 'minor' details then job's a goodun.

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By johnt27
to Mr_awol
10th Jul 2019 11:33

Is that in Practice Manager Advanced? I saw it a few years ago and was really impressed but the powers that be didn't commit due to cost.

I'm a reticent Digita user - CT and IT are good, APA and Co Sec are average at best, Practice Manager nothing more than a database with minimal value. Onvio not even looked at as better solutions out there.

Digita's audit product is apparently good, but never used or demoed.

We're thinking of moving away as I think best of breed solutions are now coming back to the fore. The problem is we're a big practice and AP needs are complex.

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