As an account manager, your role is multi-faceted with much to keep an eye on to ensure projects are on track and sailing smoothly.
Your most important asset to watch is time—time spent on tactical execution, time spent on reviews, and time spent interfacing with the client.
Accurate time tracking and appropriate balance in the three areas mentioned above results in accurate invoicing, better time forecasting, and detailed insights into team strengths—which ultimately translates to happy bosses. It’s that simple!
But with team members working on a variety of projects, and possibly in different offices, states or countries, it can be a struggle to keep the team and their billable time centralized and focused.
For this reason, we’ve compiled the following tips on how to make sure those pesky timesheets are accurately filled out—on time.
1. Invest in a Time Tracking Technology Solution
Flexible time tracking solutions keep your whole team’s timesheets in one place, associate billable hours to specific projects, and generate reports at the click of a button to make your job easier.
Consider an all-in-one agency management platform with time tracking solutions, such as WorkflowMax, that helps your business streamline invoices, improve pricing strategies, and identify opportunities to enhance efficiencies. Once implemented, an agency management platform can enable your agency to make the following improvements for smoother operations:
- Eliminate pen and paper or Excel-based timesheets.
- Regularly monitor account and project status for quick access to key insights.
- Easily pull complete data needed for monthly invoices through the simple payroll software system integration.
2. Put Time Tracking Protocols in Place
Start with structure and give your team guidelines. Define when completed timesheets are due, as well as how these timesheets should be delivered to you (i.e. time tracking tool, Excel (yuck), or paper (gross)).
Put these guidelines in writing, such as a Word doc, so everyone knows exactly what is expected of them, and so you can get new hires up-to-speed faster.
Remain consistent and unwavering in your commitment to the time tracking guidelines and what is expected of team members. The minute you start adjusting protocols is the minute everything starts to unravel. Only change if there are significant extenuating circumstances, or if after a period of time you’ve found ways to optimize the process.
3. Set Forecast Goals and Make Efficiency a Game
Set a target for how quickly you’d like to complete a project, and communicate that as a goal for your team to work towards; make maximum efficiency into a game.
How do you figure out what this estimate should be? Pull past project timesheet reports, and set a moderate goal—the average of previous projects—or an aggressive goal—faster than the fastest previous project.
For future goals, take these times and create a catalog of common projects insights for quick reference and assistance in forecasting.
As you assess and form project plans, also be sure to take team member experience into account. Setting an aggressive goal for a team consisting of entry-level employees may be setting them up to fail, and encourage the less moral of the group to avoid recording some of their time.
4. Check-In Regularly on Time Inputs
Regularly check-in and remind team members to make sure they’re inputting project time on a regular basis, and not waiting until the end of the week or month to input it all at once.
This may come across as micromanaging, but the account’s profitability and accurate invoicing are your responsibility as an account manager. Until you are confident that team members are staying on top of their timesheets, you’re justified in your due diligence.
5. Encourage Timer-Based Time Tracking
Instead of inputting approximate times after work or as a project is complete, encourage team members to use a stopwatch or online timer in real-time. Simply have them start the timer when they start working, and pause or stop it when they are done.
This will produce the most accurate time reports, providing stronger insights into performance and profitability. Get the precise data you need to know to help your team boost efficiency levels and better serve your clients.
With much to consider, work smarter and accept technological assists that make your job easier. Eliminate the need to hound team members for time sheet numbers. Invest in a system that provides less headaches and better results with accurate insights and integrations that are always available.
What helps keep your account team’s timesheets on track?
Image Credit: Matthew Paul Argall