Clients can buy blocks of support time from their vendors. Project tasks can be set up in Standard Time® to follow the time used in support. When the time runs out a new contract is then negotiated.
A spreadsheet looks really inviting; free! If you have a small business with a few employees and don’t have to send any invoices, then it probably is OK. But multiple projects, many employees and different billing rates for them all is when you need a professional timesheet.
But here are some reasons spreadsheet are not the best tool for tracking client hours.
- You can easily make the mistake of entering hours into the wrong employee.
- Same with the wrong project
- Same with the wrong client
- You can’t sync with a neato time tracking app like Standard Time®.
- You can’t easily share the spreadsheet on the web without collisions.
- You don’t get any email notifications when things are wrong.
- You don’t get any real project status.
So… that free timesheet may be costing you more than you think.
Check this out.
Using this technique, you can customize the client invoices you send to your customer.
The video below describes client invoice templates, which are really just RTF documents. Because you can open RTF docs in Word, you can put your own logo in, or rearrange the template to look any way you like.
Tags in the document are replaced with actual data when the invoice is run.
Rich Text Format (RTF) can be used in Standard Time® invoice templates. This video will show you how to customize invoices for client billing.
You need a flexible client billing invoice. A Rich Text document that can be opened in MS Word does it! It seems old-school, but it really works well. Here’s why: you can use MS Word to put anything anywhere. Then Standard Time fills in the invoice and opens it in Word. You can then use Word to save as PDF and send it to your client.
Customers can now see the status of their projects without bugging you! They just log-in to Standard Time® and get an update. Or use Android app called ProjectBot.
Customers want project status. And they sometimes want it frequently… like every day!
Fortunately, there is a simple solution. Standard Time has a simple client login page where your customers can log in to get their status. All their projects are listed. They can see how many hours were allocated, and how many hours were logged. Simple.
Plus, there’s even a simpler way. There’s an Android app called ProjectBot that does the same thing. Except that it does it automatically. Every 15 minutes, ProjectBot syncs with the cloud and pulls down all the project information for that client. The client can simply look at the app for the status. That makes things pretty simple!
Consultants can customize invoices sent out to their clients. Standard Time makes it easy.
Client invoice templates in ST are simple RTF documents you can open in MS Word. That means you can customize them anyway you like. Put in a company logo… add extra text… move things around… change fonts… anything you like!
Plus, you can create your own invoice templates to choose from. Check out these videos.
Different consultants can use different clients billing rates. For instance, a project manager can bill differently than an engineer. Makes sense, huh? This video makes it look simple.
Actually, it is simple. Standard Time lets you assign unique project rates to each consultant. And, those rates can vary by project. Project A is not the same as Project B. So the billing rates for each consultant can be unique.
This video may also help. It describes exactly how to set up client billing rates for each consultant.
How to verify client billing rates
You may also wonder how to verify that the rates are correct. Of course, you can look at the invoice itself. That’s the final check. But the techniques below will also help. They involve using the Time Log rate and cost columns to display the values you expect from each employee and project.
Future billing rates
Consulting rates may be different in future years. For instance, the year 2020 will likely have different rates than today. That means you can set those rates for future years (if you know them). Standard Time uses those future rates for project costing and revenue predictions. Check out this video!
Many consultants sell blocks of support time to their clients. He/she could sell hours for supporting networks, etc. Watch this video for help managing this area of your business.
How blocks of support works
Your consulting firm has a relationship with many companies. Some small, some big. Anytime a consultant goes onsite for a job, ask the manager if they want to purchase a block of support time. Offer some choices. 100 hours, 200 hours, 250, 500, 1000. Anytime the client needs help, you jump in and fix things. That’s because you have a contract for a set number of hours.
Watch another video here:
It’s just a project task
Blocks of support time show up in Standard Time® as project tasks. You enter a name and the number of hours for the block of time. Then assign it to a client and project. That’s it. It now shows up in your timesheet and on the smartphone apps.
Getting the software
Put the Standard Time app on your phone. Android or iOS. Each block of time shows up as a Quick Task. Tap a checkbox to start the timer. Tap again to stop. You just charged some time to that block of support time. Your phone will sync with the cloud or desktop. The hours your logged will be charged against the block of time. (It will appear as a task in ST.)
Selling new blocks of time
Standard Time will tell you when a block of time is nearly finished. You simply approach the client with this information. “Would you like to buy another block of time?” The answer will be Yes!
When the client agrees, simply add a new task to ST to represent the new block. The new task will sync with all your Android and iOS devices in the field. Support engineers will see it and begin logging time to it. And the whole process starts over!
This YouTube video for consulting software is pretty neat. It covers a lot of ground in five minutes, and is worth taking a look at. Amateur, but neat. The premise starts with a timesheet and closely related time log view where consulting hours are displayed. Of course, the timesheet is a typical Monday thru Friday grid with client projects on the left. Things got cooler with the time log ivew. The time log displays the same records as the time sheet, but in a top-to-bottom view.
Consultants will drool over this. Trust me.
For every time log record (which is also displayed in the timesheet) you get a client field, project, category, start and end times, actual work field, client rate, client cost, billable, and billed columns. There are other columns not shown that can be added to this view. Plus, you can filter that time log view to show only the work you did for a certain client or project, or only the work for a selected consultant. Or only work for a selected date range. That’s slick! You can also filter out the non-billable records and only see what is billable to the client.
But this is only where the app just begins…
The video goes on to show a glimpse of the billing rates window. (Wish it showed more.) It seems that you can set the billing rates for each consultant, and for each project they work on. So every consultant has his own rates for every project. And they only see the project they work on. Nice. But again, the video is brief, so you have to check this out for yourself – it’s just a five minute overview.
If time tracking is not enough, there is a menu item to show project revenue over a 12-month timeframe. This lets you see trends for the coming months and identify bad months that require attention. If only it also showed historical results for the last 12 months… That would be cool, but probably not as useful. Every project has its own win/loss percentage projections so it acts like a sales funnel. But all that’s a side issue that consulting companies get for free. Sure, you’ll use it, but the real stuff is logging billable hours.
The video sticks right to the point: client receivables and consultant utilization rates. That’s is the heart and soul of consulting. Get those wrong and you fail. So those reports let you see where your money is coming from, and what your effective billing rate really is. In other words, how much is your organization is billing for the work it does. Reports like this naturally raise the question, “How to increase your effective billing rate?” Edging out small increases is what consulting is all about. If you spend too much time on non-billable or in-house jobs, you die. If your effective billing rate is too low, you die. If you don’t book gigs, you die. If you don’t invoice billable hours, you die. This program seems to get that.
What is not mentioned in this video is equally valuable: expense tracking, client invoicing and QuickBooks integration. Yes, the product has those things, but the video fails to highlight them. Why? Not enough time, I suppose… I’m not sure. But it’s nice to know that there’s more to this product than the basics that can fit in a 5-minute video. Definitely worth a look.
Check it out: Consulting Software
Have you ever locked your company timesheet when the week or pay period is over? If not, you’re probably wondering what for? Why lock an employee timesheet? Or you might be wondering how to do it at all.
Locking employee timesheets is done for two primary reasons: payroll and client billing.
First, payroll: If you use your timesheet hours to pay employees, those hours must be verified and deemed correct before entering them into payroll. Nobody wants to be shorted just because they missed a few daily entries, but it happens. You also don’t want to pay crafty employees twice what they should get, just because they entered 80 hours in for the week. Again, you’ve got to verify and certify before timesheet hours go to payroll.
But what happens if an employee makes a change after the hours have gone to payroll? For instance, they realize later that they actually worked a few hours overtime. Understandably, they want to be paid for those hours. But they may not know you have already cut the check. So they innocently enter the extra overtime hours, and nobody notices! The check was already cut before they entered them. Yikes!
Locking all the employee timesheets before you cut checks is the only safe solution.
In the example above, the employee would not be able to enter his overtime hours for the previous pay period because it was already being processed. Lock it down and they can’t enter any additional hours. Of course, they’ll come back screaming, but at least you won’t miss the hours. Just tell them to enter the hours for next week and they’ll get paid for them in the next check.
Second, client billing: It’s the same issue as payroll above. Employees who enter time for the purposes of billing clients may not know the exact time you cut an invoice. The scenario is the same: The Accounts Receivables department cuts an invoice for the previous month’s work… and then a day later one of the employees working on that project enters some additional hours – AFTER the invoice was already cut!
That’s a bad situation!
The Accounts Receivables department doesn’t realize that more time was added to this invoice date range, and, the employee doesn’t realize that the invoice has already been cut. So the billable hours he entered are effectively lost. Sure, they are in the system, but nobody knows they should be included on an invoice.
Again, the safest solution is to lock the invoice date range before cutting an invoice. This prevents any new hours from being entered. Employees will get an error and realize they should put the hours into the next pay period instead.
Try locking your timesheets, if you deal with payroll or client billing!