This is for all the people that use timesheets.
There is an old accounting saying that if something is out by only one cent it could be out a thousand dollars one way and a thousand dollars the other. Accountants are taught to always balance to the cent. And you should adopt this principle for your timesheet processes.
But there is a second, and more important, reason you should do this. We all know the feeling of “where did the day go”. It’s astonishingly hard to remember what you did each hour most days, let alone every 15 minutes. On top of this our natural tendency is to underestimate how long things take to do. To think that things take longer than they should almost every time we do them.
Yes sometimes a series of tasks can get done in super fast time but you rarely get ideal circumstances. Just ask any IT support person or tradesman.
And that is the main issue here, you want to bill the amount of time for a task that is the reasonable average, not how fast it could be could be done that 1 in 10 times everything goes right.
By making timesheets add up to a minimum of your work day, usually 8 hours, it forces balance between the tasks and our unreliable sense of time. Of course it could be 7 hours day or just 2 hours a week. It doesn’t matter, just whatever a normal day is. Hours your people are paid for.
It’s fine to have non-billable admin time, or marketing, or professional development, in line with your time budgets. They also add to the work day total. If you don’t have non-billable time targets I recommend that you start.
And this approach still works if you bill over 8 hours in any particular day, the work day total is just the minimum. You might have a big project on, or a bottleneck of many projects, but there is probably something wrong with the structure of the firm if your people need to constantly work excess hours.
That’s not a way to live, and in my experience, it usually can be fixed in other ways.