Time Tracking – A Best Practice

In order to accommodate future growth, implementing consistent time-tracking systems is an essential tool for all creative businesses. It helps to:

> Manage expectations by telling your team and internal business partners up-front how long tasks will realistically take

> Build realistic schedules

> Forecast staff requirements by evaluating a planned volume of work against a set of standard hours of effort per program, client, and activity/task

> Develop metrics that you can use to demonstrate resource increases, productivity, responsiveness, adherence rate to schedules, etc.

Most of my clients use Harvest or Function Fox, but there are an abundance of other time-keeping systems to choose from, it just takes some research and planning up front to get a workable time-tracking system up and running.

Most creatives hate time keeping because the system that it is used to is too complicated, cumbersome, confusing, and manual or because the work environment becomes time-driven (not quality or service driven). So, some rules of thumb for time keeping:

> Complete at end of day. Adherence to this policy is evaluated as part of performance reviews. Staff should not leave until time sheets are completed. Doing them at the end of day, in 15 minute increments, is often easier and quicker than doing it throughout the day. It may be a bit less accurate, but ultimately  just look to capture big buckets of time not every minute

> Should be completed by everyone, even principals (this is very important) and administrative/non-billable roles

> Include all time, not just project- or client-level time but team-level/administrative time

> Keep it simple and be consistent – make sure the system is simple, easy and user-friendly so that everyone will comply.

> Time-tasks should reflect what people are doing in specific areas of expertise. Do not track time against things like “meetings.” That does not tell what each person was doing in the meeting, unless it was a team meeting (not related to a specific project).


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