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Timesheets?

Suggestions please

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Hi 

We haven't recorded time in our small practice in the past, but I'm keen to get a better handle on potentially unprofitable clients.

Previously, this has been done on our gut feeling and estimated time taken on each client, as I didn't want to spend too much time recording time, if that makes sense?

Instead of over-complicating things and using projects in our bookkeeping software, I was thinking a basic spreadsheet with enough detail to then do a Pivot Table to get the basic information I need would suffice.

Does anyone have any recommendations please? We use Accountancy Manager in the practice but the time recording feature seems a little inflexible and clunky for my liking.

Thanks

 

 

Replies (20)

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Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
14th May 2020 11:28

My slight problem with timesheets is rules re staff having x hours billable hours and only y hours non billable allowed can lead to hour padding,which means your analysis is flawed at outset due to faulty recording.

The only really useful system I have ever used was when I worked for myself, I had a sheet on the inside cover of each client general/tax file where I recorded date, matter, hours, [***] total, however even this was not that accurate as re odd calls I might never need to open the file and so usually no time got recorded re these. It did however inform my billing (I was billing on time spent) and saved me doing timesheets and then posting these to a ledger.

EDIT:-
[***]- For the avoidance of doubt the Sift software took exception to the abbreviation I typed instead of typing cumulative.

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By tom123
14th May 2020 12:25

[***]- For the avoidance of doubt the Sift software took exception to the abbreviation I typed instead of typing cumulative.

[/quote]

Best I don't have to write about all the engineering parts that also have human sounding names!

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By ms998
14th May 2020 11:53

Previously, this has been done on our gut feeling and estimated time taken on each client, as I didn't want to spend too much time recording time, if that makes sense?

What is wrong with this approach? Remember quality of life for staff will go down when there are timesheets involved due to stress of ensuring filled out sufficiently.

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Replying to ms998:
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By Ultra
14th May 2020 12:03

Thanks. Not too much wrong just looking at pressure on pricing and would be good to quantify any potential losses to be able to make more educated decisions on whether we can re-price or if it's just not worth doing anymore.

Just to clarify, it would only be the two directors doing the timesheets. The three part time staff we have are allocated directly to certain jobs anyway so I know their time already.

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By Cardigan
14th May 2020 12:15

We use Toggle. It is easy to use and is free for us (4 users). We have each client set up with various simple projects under each (e.g. Bookkeeping, Accounts Prep, Income Tax, VAT etc). You can set up clients and projects on the fly or import them. We keep the system simple so that people will use it.

We use it mainly to record add on services which are priced by time and also to ensure that we are charging enough.

We are not perfect at recording what we are working on 100% of the time, but it gives us a better idea of the time we are taking on problem jobs. I trust each staff member to record their time as accurately as possible and timesheets are not used for staff reviews or any other HR purpose. I don't even review them at the end of the week. I have explained that they are used to check if we are spending extra time on a client so we can investigate why (e.g. the clients books are not as good due to a new bookkeeper, we could use more automation to save time etc).

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AM logo
By AccountancyManager
14th May 2020 12:18

We are aware this feature requires improvement and our development team will be working on this. Please provide any suggestions for improvement to our support team to help us during the development process.

We welcome any feedback to improve functionality within AM.

Thank you.

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Replying to AccountancyManager:
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By Hut15
21st May 2020 10:43

A pause feature would be great for those times when the phone rings, or a colleague interrupts with a "quick" question.

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By Justin Bryant
14th May 2020 14:34

Why on earth would anyone want to pay a professional by the hour (unless under a capped fee), as there is then an incentive to be inefficient e.g. we all know taxi drivers will take the longest route given the chance.

My old dentist used to be paid per filling and you can guess what the result of that was!

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Replying to Justin Bryant:
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By tom123
14th May 2020 16:09

Many reasons why you might want to track time, though, surely?

We do that for our manufacturing work - that we of course sell at a fixed cost/

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Replying to tom123:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
21st May 2020 17:59

tom123 wrote:

Many reasons why you might want to track time, though, surely?

We do that for our manufacturing work - that we of course sell at a fixed cost/

Exactly. I don't know why people automatically assume time recording = billing by the hour. The manufacturing analogy is apt. It's useful to know how much of a resource has gone into the various outputs.
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By Hut15
21st May 2020 10:42

We use an app called TimeClock that provides export by csv. I have a feeling it's only available on android, but it's very easy to use, very flexible and cost peanuts. You can specify hourly rates if you want a sort of base level for comparison purposes, but you don't have to. I download the csv report each month, but I actually have the data going back a few years if I really wanted to drill down into a single client over the years, say. Just make sure it syncs to the cloud regularly - I didn't when I got a new phone and lost quite a bit.

We also use AccountancyManager, so I have client in TimeClock called AM so I know the time is being tracked in AM instead. AM works well when you are working on a big chunk of work and I like the WIP feature for tracking profitablity as it builds up until I am ready to bill. I can then compare the tracked time with the fixed fee.

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Pile of Stones
By Beach Accountancy
21st May 2020 10:43

I use TallyPro, simple to use, flexible and cheap!

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By mavis02455
21st May 2020 10:44

you could use vt software and set up a company called HOURS (or any name) -set up each client as a customer; instead of entering figures as money transactions - use the figures for time eg 15 min - enter as 0.25 - you can enter a description beside each if you want, can select what reports/dates you want

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By papafur
21st May 2020 10:44

You could try TimeDoctor:
https://www.timedoctor.com/classic
Unless one captures time spent for each client then it is not possible to monitor client profitability. Obviously, standard rates will need to be applied to that time which is a whole new discussion as to how they should be calculated!

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By Delyth Bending
21st May 2020 10:54

I also use Toggl, free to use, record the project and client and any extra narrative you wish, report as a download as excel file or pdf. I will attach these reports to a client's invoice where I charge on variable time to record what work I have completed. For fixed fees it is useful to check the fee is reasonable and I also record all my admin and CPD time.

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By Neil Douglas
21st May 2020 10:55

We (Eureka Software) have a Time Recording web application, you are welcome to have a look @ a demo system if you wish, just get in touch.

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Replying to Neil Douglas:
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By Jimess
21st May 2020 11:40

Eureka has my recommendation, we have used this for a number of years now.
The timesheet input can either be manual or by using the "stopclock" method. Shouldn't take too much setting up for two directors, but the more thought you put in to the set up, the better the information will be in the reports - as with any system.

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Replying to Neil Douglas:
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By Tomazaan
22nd May 2020 14:23

I am also looking for a basic time recording programme so went to look at the Eureka website. But... there is no indication of the cost and that puts me off. I am of the view that if I have to ask the price, I probably can't afford it.

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By SteveHa
21st May 2020 11:12

The two places I've worked where timesheets are required (current place and a former employer several years ago) have both been simple spreadsheets.

The advantage (or not) of a timesheet to me at the moment is it shows me exactly how I'm exceeding my contracted hours every damned week since homeworking started.

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By North East Accountant
21st May 2020 15:15

Sage Practice Solution is great for recording time, billing via Sage 50 and getting a report showing the profit or loss on each job.

It also has a WIP ledger which shows everything that you have ever done on a client which is very handy.

Loads of reports and you pretty much report on any data in there.

However, it's a pity Sage has never done anything with this product (it could have been fantastic) because as a practice management tool, compared to some of the new kids on the block, it's severely lacking.

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