Category Archives

Time Entry
better_time_management_3_steps

  • Jun 14,2019
You’re here because you could manage your time better. We all could. The catch is knowing how to change. Everybody gets to the end of a workday, and wonders where all the time went, but it seems like some people can just get more done in a day. How could you become one of those people? It’s not as hard as you’d think.

Put simply via New York University, time management is making a plan so you can get the important stuff done, consistently. But here’s the catch: you can’t add time to a day, so you’ll have to get more done in a day. That’s the challenge of time management. If you want to do better, you’re going to need a plan, as well as some good tools.

Step One: Add Goals to Your Calendar

If something is important enough to you, then you have to put it on a calendar, no questions asked. That’s the best way to start setting goals for your time. When you don’t have a goal, it’s easy to get lost, and then waste time. So write down some goals that you need to accomplish during this coming week, or in the next month, and be realistic about what you can get done.

“The best way to manage time,” writes occupational-health expert Bill Thomack, “is to set a goal, develop a plan, and measure the outcome. Without goals, it is impossible to set priorities.” In other words, you can’t really know how you’re doing if you don’t have goals to tell you that you’re getting more done.

By the time you get the hang of managing your time with a calendar, you’ll be ready for the next step, which is to share your calendar with your co-workers. That will let everyone at your firm know what you’re working on, when you’re available, and just how productive you are working. Some high-quality project management software will even let you integrate your calendar directly with their resource allocation tools.

Step Two: Schedule for the Way You Work

Everybody at your firm schedules work differently. As you know, some people need to work a schedule where they change tasks every hour, while other employees need lots of unrestricted time to do problem-solving for work. You wouldn’t schedule all of those people exactly the same, would you? The next step is to schedule for how you work.

In his popular essay on the topic, the programmer Paul Graham writes that there are two kinds of schedules. One is the manager’s schedule, which is scheduled hour-by-hour and is spent largely in meetings. The other is the maker’s schedule, which is scheduled in multiple-hour blocks of time, and spend largely creating things without hourly goals. But that doesn’t mean you can’t schedule for both kinds of workers.

You can use a project management tool to do things like defining your work week, setting your submission period, and adding or renaming the columns in your timesheet. When you commit to completing the goals that are important to you, and you make a plan that fits the way you work best, then you’re already on your way to doing better time management.

Step Three: Discover What Makes You Productive

Now that you’re scheduling your high-priority goals, and now that you’ve made a schedule that fits how you actually get work done, the last step is to pay attention to how you accomplish those goals. Do coworkers frequently interrupt your progress? Are there times when you put off your deadlines? When do you usually have spare time, and when are you always swamped?

In other words, what exactly prevented you from getting something done on deadline? If you’re like most workers, the same three or four things always prevent you from doing good time management. So how can you get better? You have to identify the things that make you unproductive, and reorganize your schedule so you can work more productively, or you’ll never be able to change. To do that, you’ll need more some more info.

You can start measuring your productivity in a project management software, where you can get lots of helpful data about how you work on tasks, or about how you spend your time. Do you see any repeated patterns that you think you should change? A helpful software tool even gives you the power to make any necessary changes to your project schedules, using Gantt charts, simply with a click of your mouse.

There will never be enough time to do everything you want to accomplish. However, when you align your working schedule with what’s important to your firm, and when you’re committed day-by-day to always doing what’s most important, you’ll always have control of your time, because you’ll always be working on something important. That’s how to do better time management.

If you’re interested in project management software, please request a free demo of BigTime, and see just how productive your firm could be.
improving_billable_utilization_rate

  • 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.

  • May 16,2019
Going off budget happens. Roadblocks come up and can throw a whole project off course. Since most things don’t go perfectly according to plan, you an account for this by slightly padding your budgets.

What you do want to avoid, and what is in your staff’s control, is messy time tracking that leads to budgets going array due to lack of insight. In this blog post, we’ll outline five key tips to improve your firm’s time-tracking process that will tighten up your budget estimates, leading to more profitable projects.

  • Keep it Accessible – Keeping track of how much time you spend on a task is tedious enough, so the entry process should be as painless as possible. Finding a solution that has a mobile app and a simple interface so you can automate repetitive tasks, will make it easier for your team to enter their time more regularly. Frequently entering time is key for accurate data that will keep you on top of your budget. Waiting until the end of the week or month to catch up on time entry will always lead to more errors.

  • Use a Uniform System – It’s best to get everyone at the company on board the same time-tracking software or system. Individual processes and manual data entry is not only hard to manage and gather fast insights from, but it can also cause varying levels of specificity, making it difficult to evaluate each project and budget the same.

  • Run Utilization Reports – Use the time-entry data to get a big-picture view of your staff capacity, and see if project tasks can be better dispersed to avoid hindering budgets and deadlines. PSA software can automate this reporting data, so you’ll spend less time in staff traffic meetings.

  • Don’t Forget Non-Billable Hours – Just because it won’t appear on a client invoice, doesn’t mean this time is not valuable. Ask your staff to track their non-billable time separately with notes, so you can evaluate if the time spent on non-billable tasks are pushing things off course, or if maybe the billable hours budget needs to be expanded.

  • Work the Data – Use the metrics gathered from the tracked time to build and correct future budgets, and to create a forecasting model. Remember to continuously update your budgets as things in your firm change, like new staff, or growth in engagement.

  • To learn more about BigTime’s time tracking solution and other automated features, contact our team today for a personalized demo of our software.

    • Jun 01,2017
    A recent article from the Wall Street Journal revealed that U.S. companies increased spending on consulting by 7.1 percent in 2016 as more businesses sought advice on cybersecurity, according to a report by Source Global Research. Spending on management-consulting reached $58.7 billion last year. The pace of hiring outside advice rose fastest in the pharmaceutical industry, though financial services companies maintained their dominance over the market, with cybersecurity advice as the fastest-growing segment. According to new research from American Express and Dun & Bradstreet, business services are the fastest growing segment in the middle market.

    Companies Push for a Return on Investment from Consulting Work

    Fiona Czerniawska, director of Source Global Research said about the demand for cybersecurity advice, “I can’t see how it stops.” She also cautioned that consulting firms are often seen as able at optimizing back-office tasks, but are not seen as the people you need to grow your business.

    Time Billing Software to Position Your Firm as a Strategic Advisor

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    BigTime iPhone and Android app for time tracking and expense reporting.
      We can see the raised eyebrows. But look at it this way. A strategic advisor is a value-add role. Your expertise is the price of admission. Your breakout ideas will get attention. But your value is associated with your insight. And your insight is based on data – the data you’ve captured with time billing software, starting with online timesheets and expense reporting.

    The Value of a Connected Project Management workflow

    The time and data you enter are associated with a client project. More than that, time and data are associated with, well, even more data: the project budget, tasks, even sub-tasks and its budgets, billing and invoicing, and finally, real-time reporting.

    The Value Added Advisor

    img-qb-integration-3-small

    Suddenly you’re the go-to person for valued insight based on real-time data that’s easy to access. When your clients ask, “How’re we doing?” you can do more than answer the question. You can tell your clients how they can grow their business.

    Read the WSJ article

      To keep up with BigTime’s firm management tips, tech trends, and time and billing research studies, subscribe to our blog BigTime Software delivers real-time, metrics-driven time and billing software for more than 2,000 professional firms, tracking over $2 billion (USD) worth of billable time each year.

    • Nov 10,2016

    Research Reveals $35 Billion in Billings is Lost Every Year

    A recent study by BigTime Software, a cloud SaaS provider of time management software for professional services firms, found that $35 billion in billings is lost every year because of poor or nonexistent notes supporting employee time entry. Previous studies, including one published in the Harvard Business Review last year, surveyed timekeepers own opinions on how valuable their time entries were. The BigTime study is unique in that the time management software company used economic value, rather than opinions, as a more neutral yardstick.
    BigTime Big Data Study 2016 Uncovers value of Time Tracking

    Unique In Scope

    The study is unique in ways beyond its economic valuation of data. The scale of the project, analysis of 12 million timesheets, has not been undertaken before. Quoting Saunders, “The study is so groundbreaking because of the large amounts of metadata collected by BigTime data analyst Matt Kwiecien – including what location the time was entered from and even what device was used to enter the data. Other studies fell short because they simply asked users opinions on the value of the data and didn’t review the data collected.”

    Insightful Findings With a Practical Payoff

    The findings reveal that more value was placed on an employee’s activity notes rather than on “real time” data entry. In other words, the data indicate that it is more valuable for businesses to know what theIr employees are working on rather than exactly when they enter their time, as long as it’s every day or so. Interestingly, the activity notes don’t have to be more than a few keystrokes. Big Time’s study showed 140 characters, essentially a Tweet, is enough to support a more billable note. Time tracked the next morning was found to be equally billable in the study. Of special interest to small- and mid-sized firms is that they 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.

    Potential of Big Data Realized to Help Firms Succeed

    Five years ago, BigTime CEO Brian Saunders probably wouldn’t have guessed that his company would be part of the Big Data movement. “You don’t start out saying ‘I’m going to develop a set of data that I can use to help professional firms run more effectively,’” he said. “You head out in one direction, and keep an eye out for potential value.” Saunders continues, “The thing that makes Big Data so compelling is that cloud companies, like BigTime, have created multi-tenant data warehouses. It’s really a gold mine of information that has the potential to help our customer base elevate their business in a way that they couldn’t if they were on their own.” For more, read the article on AccountingWeb.com.

    BigTime’s Study Isn’t About Big Data. It’s About Discoveries Made Using Big Data

    When asked why BigTime invested the resources to undertake the study, Chairman John Howell explained, “Our purpose has always been to help our professional service firm customers be more profitable. This research is consistent with that philosophy. It’s another way that we can leverage the data our software captures to help our customers, and the industry at large, achieve greater economic success.” Howell emphasized, “BigTime’s study isn’t about big data. It’s about the discoveries we made using big data. The fact that note length and timely entry increase billing realization is of immediate value and useful even if you don’t use our product.”

    The Study Is Mathy And Here’s Why

    Admittedly, the BigTime study is long on math and deliberately so. The research was meticulous and thorough in the coverage of what was analyzed. BigTime wanted consumers of this information to know that it is credible, worthy of being shared, and sufficiently important to establish industry best practices. While we realize most readers will not dive into the details, they are there for those who are interested. Read the abbreviated version of the study.
    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. Their flagship product is a SaaS-based system that is custom-built for the professional services industry – specifically, Accounting, Architecture and Engineering, Consulting, Creative, Government Contracting, IT Services and Legal firms. BigTime is a venture-funded company based in Chicago committed to helping clients run professional teams more efficiently, unlocking potential revenue and improving profitability within the knowledge economy.

    • Apr 07,2015
    iPhone Timesheet App
    You know that tracking time and capacity of your staffers is crucial, but is a desktop or cloud option the right answer for you? Although desktop time tracking and practice management software can be great tools for monitoring employee capacity and productivity, they can be cumbersome. Desktop solutions are typically only helpful if you use one application that you need “bolted to the floor” in one location. In this increasingly mobile society, however, few of us are tethered anywhere and are itinerant multi-taskers, whether owing to travel, busy schedule or both.

    So what is cloud computing?

    Cloud applications are by nature accessible from anywhere, at any time. Cloud computing means that your software exists in a virtual space online instead of taking up space on a desktop computer or server so it is available to your staff 24 hours per day from any location with an internet connection. iPhone timesheet apps also allow staffers to track time offline from the palm of their hands, with no need to get to get your computer connected to WiFi. (Android, too.) Payroll will never again be held up because someone was absent and didn’t submit a timesheet, and jobs will remain on track regardless of where employees are working (or resting).

    Is an iPhone timesheet app reliable?

    The best thing about tracking time online is that cloud apps integrate well with many other programs that are both in the cloud and on your computer. For example, our time tracking product, BigTime IQ, is used as a stand-alone app by many of our customers, but it also seamlessly connects to Intuit’s Lacerte, as well as QuickBooks Online Plus and QuickBooks desktop. The key to making cloud computing work for you is to use a mobile app so that your employees can record their time and track project status from anywhere. You could carry around a computer and navigate through websites in order to log time for a client visit, or you can pull out your iPhone timesheet app, for example, and log/submit time with only a couple taps. Introducing cloud computing to your company does not require a radical overhaul of your business processes, as it fits neatly into them and enhances existing functionality. BigTime IQ Pro and Express can also be synced with other apps via the API.

    Is cloud computing safe/secure?

    It can be intimidating to store confidential data in the cloud, but it is a secure process that may take better care of your data than a desktop alternative, in the long run. What will happen to your data if your computer or server crashes or experiences another hardware issue? BigTime Software uses triple encryption technology to remotely store your information in a heavily-fortified digital environment. iPhone timesheet apps also don’t store data locally on the smartphone and entries there are subject to the same security as logging in through a browser. Is 2015 the year that your company explores cloud computing software and enters the 21st century, to optimize efficiency and cut costs associated with productivity loss or inaccurate time/expense tracking? Questions about tracking time and/or expenses in the cloud? Call us at 312-346-4646 or email us at [email protected]

    • Feb 26,2015
      poor time tracking software Harvard Business Review reports that inaccurate timesheets are costing businesses billions of dollars every day, nationwide. Time tracking software or timers for client billing are designed to record every moment that you work for said client. It appears, however, that many professionals fail to log time spent corresponding with clients, the rate of which is rapidly increasing in the digital communication age. A recent study surveyed 500 workers across the United States and found that each worker lost about $50,000 per year in revenue by failing to track time spent corresponding with clients and with others involved in work projects. Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed said that they never tracked time spent reading and answering emails related to work. The firm that conducted this study reports that, owing to the sheer size of its professional services sector, the American economy is losing 50 million hours in productivity per day – the equivalent of around $7.4 billion. This study also demonstrates that many workers wait until Friday to log hours for the previous week, roughly guessing at their activities over the past five days. It’s no surprise that people who reported filling out their timesheets daily submitted more accurate records. Cashflow is almost always an issue at professional service firms – how do you cut overhead and boost revenues? Did you ever think that two minutes per day (how long it takes to log time) might generate tens of thousands of dollars? A company with 15 employees that charges an hourly rate of $150 has an average revenue leak of $1.6 million per year. That amount should more than cover the cost of good time tracking software.

    • Feb 18,2015
    Cloud Time Tracking SoftwareYou know that tracking time and capacity of your staffers is crucial, but is a desktop or cloud time tracking software the right answer for you? Although desktop time tracking and practice management software can be great tools for monitoring employee capacity and productivity, they can be cumbersome. Desktop solutions are typically only helpful if you use one application that you need “bolted to the floor” in one location. In this increasingly mobile society, however, few of us are tethered anywhere and are itinerant multi-taskers, whether owing to travel, busy schedule or both.

    So what is cloud computing?

    Cloud applications are by nature accessible from anywhere, at any time. Cloud computing means that your software exists in a virtual space online instead of taking up space on a desktop computer or server so it is available to your staff 24 hours per day from any location with an internet connection. Payroll will never again be held up because someone was absent and didn’t submit a timesheet, and jobs will remain on track regardless of where employees are working (or resting).

    What are the benefits of cloud time tracking?

    The best thing about cloud time tracking apps is that they integrate well with many other programs that are both in the cloud and on your computer. For example, BigTime IQ is used as a stand-alone app by many of our customers, but it also seamlessly connects to Intuit’s Lacerte, as well as QuickBooks Online Plus and QuickBooks desktop. Introducing cloud computing to your company does not require a radical overhaul of your business processes, as it fits neatly into them and enhances existing functionality. BigTime IQ Pro and Express can also be synced with other apps via the API.

    Is cloud computing safe/secure?

    It can be intimidating to store confidential data in the cloud, but it is a secure process that may take better care of your data than a desktop alternative, in the long run. What will happen to your data if your computer or server crashes or experiences another hardware issue? BigTime Software uses triple encryption technology to remotely store your information in a heavily-fortified digital environment. Is 2015 the year that your company explores cloud computing software and enters the 21st century to optimize efficiency and cut costs associated with productivity loss or inaccurate time/expense tracking? We’d suggest you strongly consider it, whatever solution you end up implementing.

    Questions about tracking time and/or expenses in the cloud?

    Call us on 312-346-4646 or email us at [email protected]

    • Feb 09,2015
    Small companies or individuals may not need extensive invoicing, task or expense tracking features, so they shouldn’t have to pay for them. BigTime IQ Express gives small businesses a comprehensible time and practice management solution without unnecessary bells and whistles – usable on any Smartphone, tablet, mobile or desktop device. IQ_Express_2 BigTime IQ Express has full timesheet functionality with the ability to post to QuickBooks to run payroll and billing. Historic timesheets can also be imported from QuickBooks, similarly to clients, staff, and labor codes. Import and create an unlimited amount of clients so you can keep working without running over capacity. There is no need to re-enter data, instantly cutting down on redundant administrative tasks. Don’t use QuickBooks for your company? Many small business owners prefer to use BigTime IQ Express as a stand-alone software, opting to track time and create detailed reports from one place in the cloud. IQ_Express_1 The reports available in BigTime IQ Express provide comprehensive views on the state of your company’s resources and projects. Review timesheet details across all staff members, or the status of any (or all) projects. If the nine pre-loaded report templates don’t satisfy what you’re looking for, create your own from the Report Center and share them with anyone in your company. BigTime IQ Express also comes with an industry-specific lexicon that you can personalize, and customizable admin rights for individual staffers. BigTime IQ Express customers and staff also have access to the award-winning BigTime IQ mobile app from their smartphones and tablets, so you can work smarter anytime, anywhere. Visit the pricing page to learn more about the BigTime IQ pricing structure, email [email protected], or call the sales line at (312) 346-4646. Not ready to make up your mind and subscribe? BigTime IQ Express is available for a free trial.

    • Mar 19,2014

    BigTime is being known as the best time billing software for accountants. Let it make this tax season less taxing.

    BigTime’s time billing app helps make your tax prep reporting and invoicing a breeze — bringing super-efficiency, flexibility and automation to capture more of your client tax-prep revenue.
    time billing for accountants
     
    Following are just a few features tax-prep accountants might find especially useful:
    Status tracking. Place statuses around your engagements or work codes and run reports by client and/or project. Need to see which clients still owe you tax documents? Done. BigTime shows you know exactly where you are throughout the tax prep process. WIP analysis. BigTime can help you capture un-billed time and expense for projects still in the pipeline. Management reports can enable automatic analyses of work-in-progress payments (by staffer, billing code and client). Invoicing your way. We’re talking multiple billing rates, write-up and write-down, and unlimited line item editing and reporting. Billing can be easily tailored to the needs of each client, and you can conveniently invoice out of either BigTime or QuickBooks.
    You can learn all about BigTime’s features for time and billing for accountants. Or if you’d like, our team will be happy to demo the software for you — which takes just 30 minutes or so.