Category Archives

Gantt Charts Versus Product Roadmaps

  • Jul 25,2019
You’re using the wrong tool for project planning. It’s an easy mistake for any over-stressed project manager to make. These days, project managers have so many helpful tools for planning and organizing teamwork.

In fact, a lot of people get caught on when to use a Gantt chart, and when you should use a product roadmap instead. So what is the difference?

We’ll take a look at the problems that Gantt charts are made to solve, and what sets apart a product roadmap to figure out the best situations for using each of these organizational tools.

What is a Gantt Chart?

Henry Gantt was a consultant who needed a way to schedule and record work, so about 100 years ago, he would invent Gantt Charts.

Gantt set out to create something that would visually remind him of when project tasks need to happen, and how they fell within the big picture of the project at hand. Thus, the Gantt chart was born.

A Gantt chart is a bar chart that shows the schedule of a project. Each task is color-coded and has its own bar. It’s pretty simple. These task-bars go on the chart, and you can arrange the bars to show the order in which the tasks have to be completed so you can meet the project’s deadline.

When two tasks or more tasks are related, it’s called a dependency, and Gantt charts are great at showing dependencies. That way, you can know when specific tasks need to happen for every project to meet its deadline and its budget.

Gantt charts also show the critical path, which is how much time it will take to complete the longest group of dependencies. A project can have several critical paths, which let you know what your milestones will be, as well as your deliverables.

What is a product roadmap?

For the sake of comparison, product roadmaps can be thought of as a subcategory to Gantt charts. They can also be highly visual to help map and plan a project but differ in that they’re only used for product development plans.

Because of this specific use case, product roadmaps tend to be a more high-level summary of the development project broken into phases or key milestones that may align with general deadlines and dependencies. Used as a guiding document for product planning, they can be adjusted to best fit the needs of individual products and how each company wishes to visually present their plan.

A product roadmap can also include additional information not crucial to project planning pending the different audiences it’s shared with beyond the developers. For example, customers, board members, investors, and other internal departments, may all have an interest in a product roadmap and need further context around the phases.

Additional questions your product roadmap may answer:
  • What specific problem does each product solve for your consumers?
  • What risks will your firm need to take in order to create its products?
  • How consumers will use your product(s)?
  • What solutions can you offer for the risks your firm will accept in order to create its product(s)?

  • The best part of a product roadmap is that it’s flexible. Roadmaps are meant to be changed when your firm’s understanding of the development phase changes.

    However, Janna Barstow, CEO of several management firms, advises being careful of how many variables you make flexible in your product roadmap: “the more you add to the roadmap and the further down the line you get, the harder it becomes to manage.”

    Finding the right balance in a project like product development that has many unknowns and unforeseen roadblocks can be tricky. Which is why you may want to consider using Gantt charts within the internal development team to keep each phase of your roadmap on track.

    Let’s dive into the appropriate use cases for each tool, now that you have a better understanding of their key purposes.

    When to Use a Gantt Chart and When to Use a Product Roadmap

    To break it down, product roadmaps are to be used for the planning of product development milestones. How granular and specific you get with a product roadmap is up to your team and the audience you wish to share the roadmap with.

    Gantt charts can then be used for the more specific phases within your roadmaps that need to be broken out into structured deadlines and dependencies for your development team to stay on course.

    In addition to that, Gantt charts are built to be a strategic framework that is applicable to any project. Consultants, engineers, architects, marketing teams, anyone who has a project they want to stay on course can use the Gantt chart structure to help them succeed.

    If you’re ready to see what you can do with Gantt charts and planning tools in a top-rated project management software, then request a free demo of BigTime today, and see all the tools available to you.

    • Jun 13,2019
    Measuring Productivity with a Billable Utilization Rate: Where to Start

    How do you even begin to measure your firm’s productivity? What are you supposed to do when you have to know whether your firm is billing at capacity? You can start by measuring your billable utilization rate.

    That’s when you compare an employee’s total billable hours to their monthly capacity. For example, in a given month, a worker might have a capacity of 160 hours (or 40 hours per week by 4 weeks in a month) and 120 total billable hours. That employee would have a billable ratio target of 75 (or 120:160) and might work each month to meet that goal, helping your firm to be more productive.

    It’s easy to figure out the billable utilization rate for one worker, but when you want to improve productivity for a whole firm, it can get a lot more complicated. That’s why we’ve outlined these four basic steps to help you start using time-tracking information for insight into your firm’s performance.

    First, Set Up Your Time Tracking

    If you can’t count it, then you can’t measure it. Start by finding the best way for your employees to enter their time, both billable hours and non-billable hours, so you can assign numbers for both their total billable hours and their capacity.

    Project managers usually ask employees to enter their time weekly or daily, not only to guarantee consistency in reporting but also to make sure that time entry actually happens regularly. When your team members give you numbers to work with, consistently and correctly, then you can start to get a good picture of their total billable hours.

    Be smart about how your firm tracks time, and make it as easy as possible for employees to enter their hours worked, with a time-and-billing software that can figure out the total billable hours for you. Some software even lets employees enter their time through a mobile app, whether they’re in the office, working from home, or even offline.

    Second, Ask Employees to Make Notes on Their Time:

    If you don’t know how your employees spend their time, then you don’t know much. When you aim to improve your firm’s productivity and to increase the number of hours for which your firm bills, you have to know exactly what workers do with their time.

    Start today by asking employees to make very short notes about the time they enter. Adding notes can give you a lot of insight into your firm’s productivity hour-by-hour and day-to-day, and for the little time it takes your employees to enter a note, notes are an important step toward increasing productivity.

    In fact, our recent study into billing realization shows that entering a note of only 140 characters can increase billing-realization rates by 4.65%. That means a note as short as a Tweet could increase billing by $35 billion, annually, for middle-sized US professional services firms.

    Just a little extra information can add a lot to your ability to measure productivity. A good project management software will let workers enter notes along with their time. When you know how workers spend their time, and when you know how productive they are on average, then you can start watching how productively your firm completes projects.

    Third, Look for Opportunities

    Once you’ve figured out the billable utilization rates for your firm’s employees, you can use software to begin keeping track of whether each employee works at their utilization rate, on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

    Using software to look at the billing utilization rates will give you the opportunity to find interesting patterns in how your firm’s workers use their time. You can see which employees are regularly invoicing for time, as well as which employees are working at capacity and whether certain employees are doing billable work or doing non-billable work.

    After a little while, you’ll start to learn more and more about your firm’s utilization rates, and you will be able to spot irregular patterns in productivity. When you know enough about how your firm works, and how you want it to work differently, you can confidently start making some informed changes.

    Finally, Refine the Way Your Firm Works

    By the time you have a few weeks of info on your firm’s billable utilization rates, you will be ready to make changes in your firm, using a software tool called resource allocation. When you use resource allocation, you have the power to change how and when your firm uses its two most vital resources, its employees’ time and its money.

    That’s how you put the billable utilization rate to work: if you know can put a number to each employee’s productivity, then you can make changes if an employee is not working at capacity, rather than wasting the company’s resources.

    Resource allocation can be as simple as using software to shift around the projects and tasks that an employee is working on, or to stay aware of changes in overall utilization rates, or to assign tasks from one worker to another. Some resource allocation tools can even automatically track your ongoing utilization rates, and they’re very easy to use, too.

    Any firm that asks its employees to track their time, and to add notes to their time entries, can start measuring its productivity. Once you have reliable software to give you the proper perspective for making decisions, your firm can start working smarter, today.

    If you think your firm might benefit from a project management software, please contact us to request a demo of BigTime, and learn how productive your firm could be.

    • Jun 05,2019
    This is How It Always Goes

    It’s 3:00 pm on a Friday when your most important client calls with an urgent request that your firm must absolutely complete by morning. It won’t be easy. You spend over an hour figuring out who is available to work, since your system is disorganized and out of date, but you still can’t guarantee that everything will go smoothly. There’s just too much you cannot see.

    And you can’t be expected to predict the future, right? You can’t expect to know exactly how much extra to bill the client for last-minute work, or precisely how many extra hours to request from your client to complete a project, or whether your best worker is available for the next six months.

    In fact, you can easily know all of those things, and it’s easy to do. That’s where resource allocation helps you.

    What Resource Allocation Does

    Resource allocation is when you look at the resources, staff and time, you have, and you plan your project based on when your resources are available. It’s simple. If you know exactly what you have today, you can make reliable plans for tomorrow, or for weeks to come.

    That’s why so many people use resource allocation tools to make their jobs easier. No matter the size of the firm, a lot of project managers depend on resource allocation software to quickly and easily answer questions like:

  • Who is available, right now, to take on some work for a project?
  • Does a project need additional staffers to meet your client’s deadline?
  • Have you exceeded the budget?
  • Does it look like you’ll exceed the budget before the deadline arrives?
  • How many staff hours must you allocate in order to complete a project on time?

  • How You Benefit from Resource Allocation Software

    When you relieve the stress of doing every detail of project planning, and you let the software do the resource allocation for you, then your entire firm can instead focus on hard work. No more over-complicated spreadsheets, no more educated guesses and no more doubting yourself. Know your business.

    When your firm starts using resource allocation software to manage its projects, you’ll start to notice changes around the office:

  • Project Managers will be more organized and better prepared to respond to unexpected changes because they’ll be able to see every detail of each project. No more scrambling to find out who’s available. No more living in the dark. No more simple mistakes.

  • Consultants will be more engaged with their work when they know you can easily see who is available to work, as well as how much time and money is being spent on a project, and what each worker is contributing.

  • Clients will see an indirect payoff in all the work you’re doing behind the scenes by a higher chance of deadlines being met, and the power to answer their status questions in real-time with accuracy.

  • When You Should Do Resource Allocation

    It’s not enough to know what resource allocation is. To be successful, a project manager must also know when to use a resource allocation tool, and when to depend on a different management strategy. Here are some situations when using resource allocation software for project management makes a lot of sense:

  • Communicating with Your Client: A client calls you to make major changes to an existing project. However, your client might not fully understand the consequences of making those changes. When you check in with your resource allocation software, you notice the client will exceed her budget by 50 billable hours. Working together, the two of you are able to find a more reasonable resolution that won’t exceed his/her company’s budget.

  • Avoid Invoice Surprises: Your high-profile client’s project is going smooth until you notice that you’ve budgeted 300 hours for a six-month project, and after the first month, your staff has already worked 200 hours. Be proactive and inform your client of your status and ask for more hours, instead of submitting an invoice for 600 hours at the end of the project.

  • Organizing Your Staff: Your star designer has an emergency two days before a huge project is due. To make it up to your client, and to bring the project to completion, you need to find out what other designers are available to take on 12 hours of work. Not only does a resource allocation tool show you who’s available at a moment’s notice, but it also lets you rearrange all of your firm’s project schedules, even if they run concurrently. That way, while you’re busy saving the day, you can be as cost-efficient as possible.

  • Those are all great times to depend on your resource allocation software, which helps you do the best project management you can, no matter the challenge.

    If you think that a resource allocation tool could help you and your firm, please contact us to request a demo of BigTime, our top-rated project management software.

    • Jun 03,2019
    If you want to do better project management, you have to keep a close eye on your projects’ deadlines and budgets, each and every day. That’s not easy to do. The best way to avoid any mistakes is to start using resource allocation to guarantee that your firm has the time and the staff to meet every project’s deadline.

    What’s more, resource allocation can save you time and money by keeping your firm’s projects on schedule and within budget. Here are five common problems that businesses can overcome by using software to assist in resource allocation.

    1. Planning and Prioritizing Projects Remember that you’re in full control. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re in charge of planning your firm’s projects: there’s a lot of time and money riding on your ability to make accurate plans, and see those plans through to completion. At any point, you could make a mistake in scheduling or budgeting, and ruin the whole project.

    When your project planning includes a resource allocation software, you can schedule every step of a project to see when your project will be complete, and you can see how any scheduling changes could affect your deadline. You can even assign a project’s different tasks to different employees, monitoring the project’s progress, and making necessary changes along the way.

    In this image, you can see that when Ben Herrol was added to the project Website Updates: Task 1, BigTime’s resource allocation feature responded with Allocated: 61 to show that you’ve allocated too many hours to this project. That’s why resource allocation is valuable. You don’t want to go over budget, or off schedule, do you?

    2. Understanding Capacity It’s hard to know who in your firm is available to work on a project. That’s why one of the secrets to good project planning is capacity, which is how many hours a given employee is available to work during a month, on average.

    Resource allocation can help you make decisions based on what is most important to your firm. When you view a project by staff member, you have the power to make vital capacity-related choices for staffing projects, and to make informed decisions for the future of your project.

    In this image, you can see that Jason should work 40 hours per week (see Jason Alexander, 40.00 Hrs.), that he’s been scheduled for 28 hours during the week of December 3rd (see Totals), and that he has been given 113 hours to work the chosen period (see Allocated). Knowing that Jason hasn’t yet met his capacity, you could allocate him another 27 hours, without worrying if he’s over time. That’s really easy, isn’t it?

    3. Thinking Long-Term A huge part of resource allocation is thinking ahead to where your project and your staff will be in weeks, months, or even years. Succeeding at project management means being able to guarantee that all your projects will be under budget, and will meet every deadline, so you need a smart way to make reliable decisions about how your projects will happen.

    There are a lot of software tools available for project management, so you have to be careful. A good project management tool will prevent you from:

  • Over-allocating tasks to your project staff. Any useful software lets you know your current capacity and future capacity for any project.
  • Becoming under-staffed. A helpful tool will inform you’re understaffed, so you can make hiring decisions at just the right time.
  • Getting swamped at busy times. Every good project management software lets you restructure your project’s staffing, at any time, and shows you the results.
  • Being caught off guard when your project’s deadlines or funding change. A smart tool for project management will allow you to make changes as the situation of your project evolves.
  • Running into conflicts with other projects. Any worthwhile software will let you see all of your projects, at the same time, so you can see all of the projects your firm is working to complete.

  • That’s why, in BigTime, you can check the status of any project, or staff member, or task. As the image below shows, all you have to do is to use the navigation arrows to scroll forward or backward in time.

    4. Rolling with the Punches Nothing ever goes as you’ve planned, and when you’re managing projects, you have to be prepared to change your project planning at a moment’s notice. If at any time you need to modify a project’s staffing, timeline, budget, or scope, then a project management tool will help your firm to easily adapt to change.

    Any high-quality project management software uses dependencies to do resource allocation, which is a way of managing projects where a staffer must complete a certain task before a staffer can begin another task, to avoid wasting money and time. For example, resource allocation in BigTime has a tool called Shift Allocations that lets you move around your resources without re-entering anything, at all. Just move your resources where you need them to be.

    Once everything is in the right place, you can re-assign your staff and their tasks, and keep your project moving. In the image below, you can see what BigTime looks like when you re-assign how your project resources are allocated.

    5. Staying Informed You are the person with your finger on the pulse of every project, so you need to be able to see the progress and status of every employee’s tasks, immediately and easily. A useful project management software will update you on your firm’s projects, in real time, using elegant and informative graphics. Look at all the information you get from a quick glance at software like BigTime:

    In seconds, you can answer questions like:

  • Have I assigned all hours to all available staff members?
  • Which staff member is logging the most hours on a particular project?
  • Is a project on budget, right this second, and will it be on budget next month?
  • What staffing changes would you need to make in order to get back on budget?
  • Who has hours available, tomorrow, to work on a last-minute project?

  • If you need to make a big decision based on the best information you can find, a project management software will create reports using your resource allocation data, showing you everything you need to make smart choices.

    You can even run reports based on resource allocation to do revenue forecasting. Whether you’re forecasting by project, or across staffers, you can learn which months you’ll be cash-flow positive, or which staff members will most likely to make the most revenue during the next quarter. Any top-tier Project management software gives you two ways to predict your firm’s revenue:

  • Hourly Revenue Projection (as rate * budget): do revenue forecasting based on an employee’s hourly rate.
  • Fixed-Fee Revenue Projection (as % of overall budget): forecast revenue using a fixed amount that you set for a client.

  • For example, here is what revenue forecasting looks like in BigTime’s resource allocation tool:

    When you look at everything you have to do to be good at project management, it can feel a little overwhelming, but there are a lot of excellent tools to help you do your best. Even when you’re at the top of your game, a top-rated project management software like BigTime gives you every tool you need for resource allocation, whenever and wherever your firm’s projects demand.

    See what project management software looks like by requesting a demo of BigTime.

    • Nov 01,2018
    It’s a common scenario. Staffers’ billable and non-billable hours bottleneck in the approval process, since it takes time to sift through both billable and nonbillable hours for each staffer. BigTime’s billable/non-billable approval feature streamlines this process. Now you can divide up time approvals for billable and non-billable time for each staffer. Here’s how it works. Your staffer Ruth logs billable hours to a project for Putman Associates. These hours are filtered to the lead, Henry, who sees these hours and can approve or reject them (see image below). If there’s not a team lead identified for the project, then the admin can approve or reject the hours. However, when Ruth logs non-billable time, like vacation time, these hours are filtered to her manager, Sue, who sees all submitted time, including billable hours. However, she’s only able to approve non-billable hours. Based on the image above, Sue sees the billable hours logged to the project (in gray), but can’t do anything to these hours. However, she can approve or reject the non-billable hours that have been submitted. There are few things you need to have in place before you can use this feature. First, identify a team lead. When you add staffers to a project, indicate that one staffer is a team lead by checking the box under “Team Lead.” Second, create an internal project and indicate that it’s a non-billable project (on your Project Dashboard, check the box next to “Hours/Expenses billed to this project should be considered non-billable”). Firms often make an internal project for vacation time or company training. Third, identify a manager for the project, and grant them managerial rights over a specific department. Use the Staff Dashboard to make these changes. In the image below, our staffer has managerial rights over the Engineering department. Keep in mind that you can update managerial control by adjusting rights in your security groups. The net result of Billable and Non-Billable approval is this: you save time and avoid bottlenecks.

    • Jul 09,2018
    We’ve published a slew of Knowledge Base articles to get you up and running with some of our latest features and fixes. So when questions come up you’ve got resources to turn to. This post highlights several new articles from three categories: resource allocation, invoicing, and the BigTime/Salesforce integration.

    Resource Allocation

    Get the most out of resource allocation, and learn how to shift allocations. It’s a simple feature with a powerful effect: when project changes occur, as they inevitably do, choose to shift allocations to another date without re-entering all of your data. Find out how to create weekly resource allocation reports. Whether you use resource allocation for weekly or monthly allocations, you can get reports for both. Fortunately, we’ve got several pre-built reports to make the process quick and easy. If you’re new to resource allocation, then you’ll appreciate this FAQ article, which addresses many commonly asked questions like how to enter data. Or if you’re on the fence about resource allocation, the FAQ article is a good place to learn about who benefits from this tool and how.

    Customize Invoices

    Each client has different needs and preferences, which is why BigTime users have long been able to customize invoices. We’ve added articles to explain some of your options and newly available features. Customize your invoice settings introduces users to several customization choices, from PDF styles to invoice calculators to email settings. You can also customize headings that appear on your invoices. And for those clients who have a long list of invoices to pay, you can show all unpaid invoices on an invoice template.

    BigTime/Salesforce Integration Series

    BigTime users are integrating their account with Salesforce, and it’s easy to see why: the integration keeps sales and project teams informed and connected and it prevents double-data entry. Each time a Salesforce opportunity reaches a specified stage in your sales pipeline, which you determine, it’s added in BigTime as a project. Then, BigTime and Salesforce communicate with each other and share relevant project and client details, like bill rates, tasks, budgets, and assignments. These type of details are visible on both platforms, so when questions arise, from colleagues or clients, your staff is ready. We’ve published a new article series that explains how to set up the integration, sync information between the accounts, and answer commonly asked questions. Our aim is for you to have the information you need, when you need it. Keep an eye on our blog for the latest BigTime news.

    • May 08,2018

    Put the data you generate in BigTime to good use with our pre-built time reporting. They’re an easy way to get details on a variety of topics, including projects, tasks, resource allocation, and invoicing. Plus, you can customize a pre-built report by adding or removing columns, or adjusting the date range.

    These reports also make sharing information convenient. Generate a task report to use in your staff meeting. Email an invoicing report to a client. Or create a pre-built resource allocation report to help plan for the quarter ahead. Read on to learn how to access and customize a pre-built report, and the type of reports available to you.

    Find pre-build reports in your Report Center (Reports….Report Center). At the top of your window, you’ll see four categories: Time Tracking, Invoicing, Payroll, and Task List. Each category has its own tile and several pre-built reports. (NOTE: Click the tile with the magnifying glass to make a custom report).

    Let’s look at the Time Tracking tile as an example of the pre-built reports you have access to (see image below).

    Under this tile, notice a pre-built report titled Timesheet Summary by Date Range (see image below). Click View Report to view it. This summary report shows you timesheet data by client, staff member, and categories for a specific time period.

    Edit the date range by clicking Edit Report Settings at the top of the report. A new window will pop up and you can enter a start and end date in the respective textboxes.

    Customize the pre-built report by clicking the Customize button near the top-right of your window, and select Customize from the picklist. Now you can add or remove columns.

    Other time-related reports are located directly beneath this summary one. Hover over the ‘i’ icon to learn about the report before you generate it. You can also customize these reports, by editing the date range or adding or removing columns.

    Check out additional reports near the bottom of your Resource Center window, under the header All Reports. This is where you can generate reports on resource allocation. Some of the reports from the four tiles at the top of your Report Center window also appear in this section.

    The next time you’re rushing to find the status of your projects, billable staff hours, or resource allocation details by week or month, among a host of other topics, take a look at your Report Center to see the reports at your disposal.

    • Apr 19,2017

     Product Update – April 2017

    Android users: you deserve a better smarter mobile timesheet app that simplifies your on-the-go work life. And that’s exactly what this product update delivers. Let’s take a closer look.

    Timesheets, Timers, and Expenses

    Now Android phones recognize the required fields feature. Mobile Timesheet with Required Field A required field is exactly what it sounds like in that the user is required to complete a particular value. For example, if the Admin has made timesheet notes a required field then the staffer must complete the details field for each time entry before they can submit their timesheet. If a required field is left blank, an error message pops up. This eliminates the possibility of user error by omission. You’re using a smartphone for work. Now, your Android mobile timesheet app helps you work smarter by recognizing required fields.  One more thing about notes. A recent BigTime research study based on the analysis of 12 million timesheets revealed that the presence of timesheet notes improved billing realization (the comparison of time billed with time entered) by almost 5 percent). That’s right. A timesheet note about the length of a Tweet can significantly increase your billing realization rate. Something to think about.

    Little Things Add Up to a Great Mobile Mobile Timesheet for AndroidExperience

    A delightful user experience allows you to focus the task at hand. So when you whip out your Android to track time or expenses you’re going to have a friction-free experience. Here’s a quick look at other changes we’ve made—all of which add up to a big difference in your Android’s performance.


    SaaS software is all about continuous improvement. Here are a few things that will work better for your now:
    • The Staff List member information now includes home phone numbers.Mobile Time and Expense Tracking Client Information With your mobile timesheet app, you can be anywhere and access the home phone of an employee or a colleague.
    • Full names now display properly for our IQ Enterprise users.
    • The Expense Entry screen is no longer visible for our IQ Express users, in order to eliminate confusion. Email [email protected] for more info on how you can add Expense tracking to your time tracking app.
    • To eliminate confusion for our IQ Express users, the Expense Entry screen is no longer visible. Email [email protected] for more info on how you can add expense tracking to your time tracking app.
    • We resolved a few issues with your Projects that were impeding the ability to load Billing and Primary contacts.
      • We fixed some minor label issues. They now display properly in the Expense Entry screens.
      • We updated the menu option for our Knowledgebase. It now points to the current version.
      • We resolved a few offline entry issues Mobile Expense Trackingthat occurred when trying to load class information.
      • We corrected an issue so that expenses will properly exit out of the unsubmitted expense area.
    Go to the app store and see all of the Android app goodness To keep up with product updates, industry-relevant trends, and our time billing research studies, subscribe to our blog. BigTime Software delivers real-time, metrics-driven time tracking, billing and project management for more than 2,000 professional firms, tracking over $2 billion (USD) worth of billable time each year.

    • Apr 19,2017
    Our talented Q&A development specialist Monica shared an article from the Harvard Business Review, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. It got her attention because the principles outlined in the article sounded a lot like the way our development team plans features for our time and billing app. Of the article’s three main points, it was the second that resonated most with our dev team. Ask “What is essential?” Our dev team repeatedly asks themselves this question. Then, they plan the feature that will tackle a root issue in our time and billing software. That’s how they arrived at their own 3 rules of less for successful time and billing feature design.

    Rule #1. Know the primary function and keep it simple

    Time billing software with mobile time and expense tracking appHere’s an example. Our online timesheets, including the mobile app, look super simple. The absence of distracting features make it functional—and yes, beautiful. Sometimes it’s what you don’t see in our time billing software that makes it so functional. The primary function of the timesheet is to make it easy for employees to use. Since time is money at a service firm, employees can get in and out of the timesheet quickly with minimal disruption to their billable work. Our timesheets also help productivity. If timesheet notes are required, staffers cannot submit their timesheets until the mandatory field is completed. This eliminates the possibility of error by omission. Your admins don’t waste time chasing down the information and employees aren’t circling back to correct their online timesheet.Timesheet detail field notes By the way, timesheet notes the length of a tweet (yes, 140 characters) can increase your firm’s billing realization rate by almost 5 percent. We’re talking about the percentage of recorded billable time that gets billed to clients. To learn more, read the BigTime research study based on the analysis of 12 million timesheets.

    Rule #2. Offer more when more is necessary

    Time billing software with customizable timesheets Continuing with our online timesheet as an example, we offer more choices to the site administrators who are responsible for customizing the timesheet. The purpose of “more” in this instance is to provide options so the admin can set up the timesheet to capture information relevant to running the business. We give our customers the choice to deliberately limit access to projects within the timesheet. Why? Because employees only need to track time against the projects they’re working on. This optional feature eliminates the need for employees to scroll through an exhaustive list of all projects. Anything other than the projects they’re logging time against is non-essential information and a potential distraction. But we leave that decision up to the firm owner. As BigTime’s CEO Brian Saunders often says to customers, “The whole point of tracking time is to collect data and then use that data to make better business decisions.” With that in mind, admins can customize our online timesheets, adding or removing columns (with the exception of Projects), renaming or reordering columns and fields, even making certain fields or columns required. We design our software on the “need to know” principle. In other words, what exactly do our users need to know in order to perform a specific action or associated actions? Our design thinking is informed by what the customer needs to do and what they need to know in order to do it.

    Rule #3. Strip away the extraneous

    Albert Einstein is credited with the memorable paraphrase of the aphorism, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” And that’s what our dev team does. Let’s use project management as an example. Time billing with project management Firm owners can get the big picture on any given project from a single dashboard, seeing at a glance who’s working on what and for how long. Project managers can drill down to get detailed information on tasks, due dates, budgets, staff availability, and more. There’s a lot of intelligence under the BigTime hood. But we practice the disciplined pursuit of less until our customers need more. In a previous post,  3 Must-Have Time Management Skills for Professional Service Firm Owners, experts reminded us that there will never be enough time for everything. There is only enough time for what truly matters, for the essential. And that’s what we focus on when designing software to help our customers succeed. If you’re looking for the right software to manage your firm, we can save you a lot of search time. Reach out today! BigTime Software delivers real-time time billing, project management and reporting for more than 2,000 professional firms, tracking over $2 billion (USD) worth of billable time each year. To keep up with product updates, industry-relevant trends, and our time billing research studies, subscribe to our blog.

    • Mar 20,2017
    android_mobile_time When mobile expense tracking apps are so widely available, why do so many professional service firms stick with manual processes? According to Robert Neveu in CPA Practice Advisor, many smaller organizations can manage a manual process just fine due to lower reporting volume and reimbursement requirements.

    The Problems with Manual Expense Tracking

    But there are problems with manual processes even then. Neveu’s firm, Certify,  conducted a recent survey of more than 600 CFOs and accounting professionals. They found that the top pain point for 52 percent of study participants is that employees lose paper receipts.  The runner-up pain point, experienced by 51% of respondents, is their employee’s failure to submit expense reports on time.

    The Bigger Issue About Mobile Expense Tracking

    Mobile apps capture images of paper receipts, which can then be attached to digital expense reports. This process does away with paper receipts altogether. It also makes it easy for employees to submit expenses on time.  Online expense tracking is also scalable. It can grow with your business without disrupting the way you do business. There’s one thing more.  We work with professional service firms all over the world. Some of them make a lot of money. Others not so much. What makes the successful ones successful? Leverage. They’re good at leveraging data. Successful firms use the data they track (expenses and timesheets, for example) to get better at estimating. They use online timesheet data to flag customers and engagements that need attention. They use expense data to do a better job building project budgets. If a project does fail, they use that data as an audit log to help them look back and see what went wrong. No matter why a company decides to embrace mobile expense tracking, those who do are pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Read the article. BigTime Software delivers real-time, metrics-driven time tracking, billing and project management for more than 2,000 professional firms, tracking over $2 billion (USD) worth of billable time each year.