- Posted by John Ackerman
- On April 4, 2018
- 0 Comments
- BSD Time, Products, Time Tracking
Time tracking is a necessary evil for any person or agency that trades hours for dollars. Whether you’re a freelance designer or developer, or a full-blown consultant shop, it is critical to your revenue stream to ensure that each hour spent is properly tracked. It is equally important to your customers to know where time (money) is being spent.The time tracking market is crowded with new players entering every week. These time trackers range from simple timers built into browsers, to full-fledged enterprise scale applications that do everything from time track to project management and accounting.
With such a crowded market, how can you know which application to choose? Here are 10 things that a consulting agency or freelancer should consider when selecting a time tracking product.
1. Nobody Likes Entering Time
This is my number one consideration, because it is the absolute truth. Time entry is a chore that nobody enjoys doing. For this reason, any time entry system you’re using needs to encourage its users to enter time. Entering time should be quick and painless. Here are some ways that great time tracking apps resolve these problems:
- Great apps highlight and notify users of working days that have been missed, or where no billable time has been entered
- They allow users to enter or edit time entries (up to the billing date) with as few clicks as possible
- They provide one-click timers that users can pause and restart as they progress through their day
- The provide at-a-glance charts that show the user their progress against a goal over time
2. Developers and Customers Speak Different Languages
One of the greatest challenges we face in billing our customers is taking developer speak, and turning it into customer speak on invoices. Customers speak about value in terms of the features of their application. Developers, on the other hand, think in terms of tasks. Customers, in this instance could also be business stakeholders not involved in the development process directly.
A good time tracking application must seamlessly bridge this gap between developer task and produc
t feature. This can be done through the use of separate and specific fields for the developer’s explanation of their time, and a business explanation of their time. These could be filled out by the developer, or by a manager. Another great way to bridge this gap is to tie every time entry to a line item on Statement of Work that the customer has agreed to previously.
3. Invoicing Takes Time
A time tracking system that doesn’t directly integrate with your accounting system represents a great opportunity for improved efficiency. When we started out, billing our customers would take 4-6 hours a month depending on how much work we had done that month. Adding integration with Xero for accounting reduced this time to about 5 minutes a month. For us, that means we gained on average 5 hours of time back each month. Over the course of a year that is an extra 60 hours. If you multiply that by your normal billing rate, a connected time tracking application more than pays for itself.
4. Time Tracking is Really About Money
Every hour of value we provide as consultants has a direct monetary value. This can be considered in terms of your billing rate, in terms of value to your customer, and even in terms of the cost of your employee performing that hour of work. In order to be effective for a consultant or consulting agency, time in the application should be directly tied to the billing rate to the customer, and the hourly rate (or equivalent) of the resource performing the work. This is where general time tracking applications tend to start falling apart for consulting use.
5. Reporting is Key
We track time so that we can be paid for the value that we have provided. Time tracking can also tell us other valuable things. It can tell us about our profit margins. It can demonstrate the revenue generation of our employees and help to justify their salary and bonuses. Analytics around time tracking help us understand which projects should be prioritized and which of our resources are best suited to take on those projects. Your time tracking application should put all of this information at your finger tips to help you manage your time (and money).
Introducing BSD Time
If you’ve read these five considerations and nodded in agreement with each of them, we’d like to tell you some exciting news. For six years we’ve been designing, developing and using a time tracking application that we’ve built internally. We lovingly call this system “BSD Time”. We’re getting ready to launch BSD Time as a product available to other consultants and agencies just like ours. On top of being drop-dead gorgeous, BSD Time takes all of the items above into consideration and more. Here’s a sneak peek.
To learn more about BSD Time and to sign up for additional details, including launch details please click here, to sign up.
If you’re curious about how we do business, and would like to discuss a project or new business idea that you have please feel free to contact us.