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How do you record work done - not just time?

22nd Apr 2013
Practioner Unknown
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Looking at my work in progress report the other day, I had one of those "there must be a better way" moments.

Across the nation - or even the world? - accountants in practice are probably doing exactly the same: looking at values on a WIP report and trying to work out if they represent something for which we can invoice a client.

Part of the reason for this is that software companies since the year dot have been selling software that records hours worked per staff member, by client, but fail entirely to capture the nature of what was done, let alone report on it. What I need to know is what my team have been doing, what stage the work has reached and what has been delivered - or could be delivered - to the client.

We work on a fairly strict event billing system - nothing should leave the office without the related bill. In addition, if we have done a measurable part of a large job with an agreed total fee, we will bill this in stages as the work progresses. None of that information is readily ascertainable from a traditional time recording system!

If anyone knows of a work recording system that records workflow rather than time I would be interested to know. Or if you work on fixed fees rather than timesheets, how do you know who to bill and when? If you have a new, small firm, and start everyone on fixed fees paid by monthly direct debit, you have probably the ideal system - but unfortunately, for an established firm with 100's of clients that's almost impossible to achieve.

Of course, one solution we are exploring is delegated fee budgets and responsibility for bills - if the person working on a job is tasked with delivering it and the bill, it might happen quicker. After all, in a shop, you use the cheapest labour to take the money from customers - but for some reason in a professional firm it's the most expensive people who do the billing! Surely everyone in the office should know how much to charge for a job - in fact, why use professional staff at all? Couldn't a secretary or admin person do the billing? Answer: yes, they could, but in a traditional firm no-one except the engagement partner knows what the fee is going to be (no, not even the client!) - a situation perpetuated by software companies that continue to pander to this antiquated billing system.

So it looks like we're probably stuck with a combination of managed delegation, workflow records on a variety of Excel spreadsheets, and the WIP reports as  a backstop to make sure we haven't missed anything! I still think it's daft, but I'm not sure what else to do.

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By Old Greying Accountant
22nd Apr 2013 23:56

Don't use IRIS Time and Fees ...

... but certainly in practice management you can link letters to job stages and it will trigger the letter when a stage in the workflow is completed - I'm sure it will do pretty much what you want!

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By WhichTyler
24th Apr 2013 16:15

Simple, but might help

Don't know if this is robust enough for billing & practice assurance, but it's a good idea

 

https://idonethis.com/

 

Grammar pedants will not like...

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By Lahtac
26th Apr 2013 18:37

WorkFlowmax

Try "workflowmax" which is cloud based so staff can log in their time when they on the golf course. The package is geared towards project managing the work flow and managing hours available in that jobs are set up given a cost and time budget and deadline/milestones such as  planned, in progress and completed etc. This can be micro managing for small jobs but flags up the workflow. The system also allows for tracking of man hours available like a traditonal job planner which many people used to keep on a spreadsheet.

 

Weve just startred on the package. it is early days but is far more sensible than traditional time and billing ledgers.

The software is  pay as you go so no issues with initail set up costs,.its all on a monthly standing order.

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