How Accountants Can Help Create More Valuable Client Timesheets

worried man with people holding phones, laptops and watches in his face
Yuri Acurs_istock_timemanagement
Brian Saunders
CEO
BigTime Software
Blogger
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Nearly $35 billion in billings is lost every year because of poor or nonexistent notes supporting employee time entry, according to a recent BigTime Software study.

Previous studies, including one published in the Harvard Business Review last year, surveyed timekeepers’ own opinions on how valuable their time entries were. But BigTime instead used “economic value” as a more neutral yardstick to review the 12 million data points it examined. Its findings placed more value on an employee’s activity notes than on “real time” data entry.

The study also found that small businesses can increase realization by $5,000 to $10,000 per employee annually by adding notes to the time entry, regardless of when the notes are entered.

Below are three simple ways managers of accounting practices can work with employees to create more valuable timesheets. These steps to encourage employees to bill their time through thoughtful consideration and a few extra keystrokes will bear fruit in the upcoming busy season, as well as reduce the stress that comes with real-time tracking of an employee’s activity.

1. Work with your employees to get them into the habit of writing brief, high-quality notes at the end of the workday or first thing the following morning on their day’s activities. Time tracked the next morning was found to be equally billable in the BigTime study. While real-time entry may feel good to managers, BigTime’s study shows that succumbing to the slavery of timers tends to put more stress on employees than support productivity. Reflecting on a day’s activities delivers better, more consistent results.

2. Give your employees easy steps to write an accompanying note with each time entry. The notes don’t have to be more than a few keystrokes – BigTime’s study showed 150 characters, only slightly longer than a tweet. This is enough to support a more billable note. Give them a set of sample notes and encourage them to create their own templates for often-repeated activities.

3. Encourage the use of available plug-ins, which all web-based time and billing applications allow, to help employees translate shorthand into higher-quality notes. An automatic text expander is a helpful and efficient way to input frequently used text by typing predefined snippets of words or phrases. A simple specialized proofreading software can help spell-check and create more readable notes for the client.

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