Let’s be honest. Tracking time and invoicing clients are the two of the most loathed job responsibilities in the professional world. On the flip side, these practices are required at any agency that wants to effectively manage and get paid for their time. Whether billing hourly or billing a fixed fee, using the right time tracking and invoicing tools can make these jobs easier and reduce the amount of time spent doing them. And that means more time and energy is freed up to focus on client work.
Tracking time on client work
Time tracking is a discipline that requires everyone on the team to buy in. But, once it becomes standard practice, tracking time can increase the value of billable work up to 30%. That’s because so much billable time is lost to human error when tracked inefficiently — for example, when using Excel or paper timesheets.
Keeping track of time using online tools is especially advantageous when timers are used, because they practically track the time for you. Running a timer while working is far more accurate, and requires far less mental energy, than trying to recall later how much time was spent on each task.
The benefit of using time tracking tools is more than just increased billable time. There is also a trove of data being collected that can be used to analyze team productivity and invoice clients. And when a time tracking tool integrates both time tracking and invoicing features, the transition from managing the work to getting paid for it is a seamless one.
Whereas time tracking tools excel at managing and tracking client work, invoicing tools provide the means to create and deliver a detailed statement of work. Some clients may want a basic invoice showing what they owe, while others may want a detailed accounting of how their money was spent. Ideally, invoicing tools should be able to provide both without third party plugins or exporting data to another platform.
Using a tool like Intervals, generating detailed client invoices requires only a few clicks. Invoices can be broken down by date, by task, by person, and more, because they are built using the time tracking data accumulated during the project. And when that still isn’t detailed enough, additional reports can be generated and sent along with the invoice.
The benefit is less time spent creating invoices, as well as less time spent justifying them. The detailed invoices and reports speak for themselves. The other benefit is stronger client trust, because detailed invoices based on time tracking data provide a layer of transparency, a window into the agency that allows clients to see exactly how their money is being spent.
All of these benefits culminate, however, with the agency getting paid more and on time. Most of us work at agencies because we love being creative — and less time spent tracking time and invoicing clients equals more time doing the work we love, or, playing fetch with the dog.