How to stay in control of your time and billing

18th Dec 2020
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To run an efficient and profitable accounting firm, you need to be in full control of your time, utilisation and expenses. So, it's vital that you know how much time is being worked against each engagement and client, what staff costs and expenses are being logged and how these totals translate into client billing at the end of each period.

But how do you record, track and manage all this information? And how can the benefits of cloud accounting be used to streamline and automate your time and expenses process?

Having true oversight of time and expenses

Being in control of your time and billing is no walk in the park. Whatever the size of your practice, there are multiple elements that have to be factored in when raising and sending out your client invoices. And this means having accurate, detailed and easily accessible information about each engagement, and the total fee it will generate for the firm.

You’ll need to know

  • What time has been spent on each job – with detailed breakdowns of the time worked on each task, the charge-out rates of each staff member and how the overall job is tracking against your target deadline for the engagement.

  • What additional expenses have been incurred – in the course of the engagement, there will be travel expenses, accommodation costs and, possibly, additional fees for specialist consultants or outsourced third-party providers used on the job.

  • How this will impact on the final bill – to raise the final client bill for the period, you need to quickly and easily be able to account for all time, all expenses and tally how this translates into an end total – with breakdowns of the costs for the client to review.

That’s a lot of information to manage, and the harder it is to source, analyse and track this time and expenses information, the more difficult it is to run an effective client billing function.

The problem of working with legacy time-tracking systems

Traditionally, much of the time-tracking and recording of expenses has been done using basic Excel spreadsheets, or using legacy desktop software. With key elements of your practice now operating in the cloud, in line with the latest Making Tax Digital requirements, these offline spreadsheets and desktop systems are no longer fit for purpose in the digital age.

Relying on spreadsheets and offline systems has a number of drawbacks. Manual entry of timesheets and the long-winded data entry of using a desktop resource management system make the whole process highly inefficient. And without being connected up to the cloud, there are no direct integrations with your financial systems or invoicing software.

In short, in the digital age, a new time and billing solution is needed. 

Using cloud accounting to manage time and billing

With the latest cloud accounting and practice management software driving your firm, all the efficiencies and connectivity of a digital system come to bear on your time and billing.

A solution like Onvio Firm Management provides an all-in-one hub for managing your in-house firm systems, all linked up to the main data entry and bookkeeping, accounting and document storage functionality of the wider Onvio platform.

Using Onvio, you can:

  • Easily track time and expenses – enter time using a form or traditional timesheet interface, or get your staff to record their time from the Onvio Link mobile app, as they go. Enter expenses as they’re incurred and review these costs, make adjustments and add receipts to the job total.

  • Review your time and amend the costs – see how staff are being utilised, measure how well each engagement is progressing, add in amendments, write-offs and credits and get an accurate time count against each job – with all this information linked and shared with your invoicing tools, for raising accurate and timely fees.

  • Quickly raise accurate client bills – run detailed reporting of your work in progress (WIP) for each engagement, view which WIP amounts are available to bill and download the data for further review and analysis, if needed. Create flexible, multi-format invoices that give the client a full breakdown of their bill and expenses, with reporting to help you manage your account receivables and aged debt.

Having this real-time overview of your WIP, your expenses and your billable fees puts you in complete control of time and billing – ensuring you remain efficient and profitable as a firm.

Find out more about the Onvio cloud accounting platform