7 deadly sins of time tracking for accountants and consultants
by Catherine Rozyczko on June 14, 2020
Remember the 7 deadly sins? We call them deadly because unlike a ‘lesser’ sin (without getting too religious here), the consequences of deadly sins are thought to be more severe, more detrimental to your life and your future.
But we’re not talking about religion — we’re talking about efficiency. And efficiency starts with adept and smart time tracking. Without it, your path might not lead you to hell, but wherever you’re going, there will certainly be less money there.
Let’s start with some high-level data on time tracking to sober the mood:
"In the US, the economy loses 50 million hours in productivity each day due to untracked time. That’s $7.4 billion dollars every workday!
Unrecorded meetings and calls cause professionals $32,000+ in revenue per year."
Effective time tracking is obviously illusive at-large but the hardest-hit segments are undoubtedly consultants, namely accountants. Even though the entire accounting profession is based on analyzing numbers, time tracking is still an art that might not come easy for those in financial services or accounting —
Especially for those who work with small businesses.
Most of us are doing time tracking wrong, not just accountants. When you educate yourself on what time you can save and how you can improve, you become empowered to take the necessary steps to do it better.
Which means more money in your pocket and more time for yourself, your family, whatever it is you want to do.
Check out the 7 deadly sins of time tracking for accountants and consultants that work with small businesses. And remember, these bad habits are ‘deadly’ for a reason — they can end up costing you significant chunks of cash and time quicker than you expect.
The 7 Deadly Sins of Time Tracking
1. Manual time tracking
Quick stat — 38% of US employees still track their time manually.
And a huge chunk of consultants and accountants are guilty of this sin. Using pen and paper to record time is asking to make your life more complicated. All types of consultants have to allocate time into specific projects to know how much to bill, and this is exceptionally difficult to keep straight while manually tracking time.
Which brings us to the second deadly time tracking sin: indifference. Consultants who commit this sin are the people that track time nonchalantly. Perhaps they separate their projects and try to somewhat accurately bill on each project and client, but they’re really just tracking time for the sake of tracking time. Indifference usually leads to missed opportunities and even broken bridges if certain clients and projects that demand priority don’t receive it.
Are you tracking your time down to the minute? Rounding up to the nearest 15 minutes? Committing the time tracking sin of chaos means that you don’t have any kind of standard way to track your time across all clients and projects. Also, the bad fruits of the sin of chaos can threaten the ever-important — you might even say, ‘almighty — client experience. Each client should know exactly how you are tracking your time, whether you’re billing them for the exact time spent, rounding up by the hour, etc. If a client feels unclear about this, accountants, IT professionals, and other consultants can come across as shady, even if they’re not.
The sin of static means that you are unable to track your time while on the go. For example, you’re killing time at the airport and end up spending an hour on emails. If you don’t have a system — even a simplistic one — to record time when you’re on the move, you’re missing billable hours. Fortunately, there’s a few easy solutions to prevent you from committing this sin. For one, make sure you have a time tracking app on your phone. Also, the best available solution right now to remedy this is what’s called self-driving time tracking. It’s AI that through your calendar and even your GPS location, can track time for you, making you a veritable time tracking saint.
Now let’s say you are a saint when it comes to the first four sins. It’s a great start on your way to efficiency heaven (what that looks like is up to you, but it should involve more revenue), but it’s not enough. If your time tracking solution is siloed, you’re missing out on easy-to-use software that can automatically generate invoices from your time sheets and integrate time tracking with your CRM and invoicing system.
If you track your time without a system for reporting or analyzing, you're more or less acting on impulse. Without metrics to analyze how your time is spent and where it is spent, you are blind to the data you need to better manage your time. By acting impulsively and without the ability to look at where your time and energy is really going, you won’t be able to increase your efficiency or forecast. There won’t be enough accurate information to do it!
The seventh deadly time tracking sin is denial. These aren’t the impulsive sinners or the manual time trackers. These are the professionals that have already adopted a time tracking solution, but aren’t investing time and energy to reflect on whether it’s actually working. Are they saving time? Is there a significant ROI on what it costs to maintain the time tracking solution? Are they actually seeing this translate into more billable hours? You can avoid denial by taking an honest look at what your current time tracking solution is and how you can improve, not avoid, what’s happening.
Reject the time tracking sins if you want to earn more.
Knowing these deadly sins, or bad habits, will help your firm improve efficiency, build stronger client relationships, and bill more! Choose a solution like PSOhub that was built understanding these common traps and with actual accountants in mind.