To the end of timesheet tyranny

The Problem

Up until now, most law and accounting firms all around the globe use timesheets in order to account for the work they have completed during the day and translate this work into billable hours.

However, a lot of professionals find themselves regularly at the end of a 10 hour-working day but only having 5 or 6 billable hours to show for it. Where the remaining time has gone remains a mystery.
In addition to the problem of the inaccuracy of timesheets, the task of regularly completing them based on 6-minute billable units is a very depressing and demotivating task for accountants, lawyers and other time-based professionals.

In fact, a Lawyers Weekly (Australia) survey revealed, that only 8% of all respondents did not have a problem with timesheets.
In contrast, 43% described them as ‘Intolerable’, 20% stated they believed them to be ‘An outdated business model’ and 10% found them ‘stressful’. The remaining 19% disliked them, but could live with them.

The Solution – TrueTime

Having experienced the ‘timesheet tyranny’ many times during their careers, Melbourne-based professionals Rob Stevens and Scott Buchanan recognized the urgent need for a tool to relieve time-based professionals from this burden.
Together they therefore developed TrueTime, a new time-capture solution that achieves exceptional accuracy with automatic activity recording and management through a lightweight web-based interface.

TrueTime automatically keeps track and records your entire day for you and then allows you to sort, trash, merge, and invoice your activities. No more need to remember how much time you’ve spend on each distinct task.

The auto-merge function allows you to merge similar activities so you have less to manage. Optionally, you can also edit them manually and simply ‘drag and drop’ these activities to the appropriate client or project.
It even recognizes when you are away from your computer and helps you to classify and sort your time away from the desk into billable and non-billable activities.

Another beauty of the TrueTime solution is that the appliance can integrated and syncronized with most existing accounting or practice management solutions (e.g. MYOB, Lexis Nexis and Aderant products, using Oracle, SQL Server and Postgres databases).

In order to cater for large businesses, TrueTime can be deployed across whole companies, providing each team member with a secure login.

In short, TrueTime is an effective tool in order to prevent time leakage, employee frustration and client mistrust due to the inaccuracy of timesheets.

CEO and co-founder Rob Stevens of TrueTime says: “We have a lot of fun presenting TrueTime to firms. Timesheets are a universal pain point. When our clients realize the freedom that can be obtained, combined with the fantastic return on investment, it becomes a very easy decision to proceed.”

A different perspective

As thoroughly described the TrueTime solution presents a very appealing alternative to timesheets for time-based working professionals.

Nonetheless, recently voices in Australia suggesting to entirely move away from time-billing especially in the legal profession grew louder.

As another Lawyers Weekly (Australia) article reported, a detailed examination of existing information on well-being issues in the law profession, conducted by an Ad Hoc Committee of the Law Society of Western Australia, had revealed a growing number of complaints from young practitioners about the unsatisfying nature of legal work in a time billing environment.

The Committee furthermore stated, that “the emphasis upon the production of billable hours creates a working environment which […] discourages professionalism and reduces work satisfaction to unacceptable levels.” Another concern expressed by the Committee is related to the bullying nature of time billing environments.  They found that “imposing excessive billable hours targets upon employees and adopting an unhealthy focus on billable hours in measuring employee performance may, in some circumstances, constitute bullying and/or cause depression or other psychological distress and depression”.

These health issues might be one of the reasons why pricing expert and best-selling book author Ronald Baker reports that he has observed a great movement in Australia regarding the embracing of value pricing.
Baker is convinced that the move away from billable hour schemes towards a value pricing strategy can only be beneficial to both firms and clients. In an interview with Lawyers Weekly he pointed out that “with the billable hour the incentives are completely out of line. The law firm wants to bill as many hours as possible. The client wants the matter solved in the most effective manner, irrespective of time, whereas the law firm has an incentive to run up the clock.”

However, Baker also realizes that moving away from billable hours is in fact a business model change – not just a pricing change.

“I actually believe it’s the timesheet that’s the cancer; the billable hour is the symptom,” he said. “It’s the timesheet that keeps you mired in the mentality that what you sell is time and it’s the timesheet that is the wrong measuring stick for value. It’s the equivalent of plunging a ruler into your oven to determine its temperature. It’s the wrong measuring tool, so if we’re going to move to value [pricing] we’ve got to get rid of thinking about time completely.”

To close it off after all the information, here’s a little extra for you – see how Brazil’s CWT Case found a fun way of one of their problems regarding timesheets.

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2 responses to “To the end of timesheet tyranny

  1. Another very interesting post Fenja! I have to admit, that I have never heard about truetime bevor and since I only ever jobbed as a waitriss, I never really thought about timesheets. In your post you manage to present your theme, your ideas concerning it and an alternative in a very informative but still short enough kind of way. Even though this post wasn’t as snappy as your last ones, it was still interesting and easy to read because it is an important topic and you structured your post very well. I don’t know if this is a coincidence ( but I guess not) but I like that you always come back to Australia on some level, because that always makes me smile and it shows that this is really your work and your interest.
    Well done!

  2. Pingback: Retrospect #4 : Slowing it down | BLOG OR DIE TRYIN'·

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