Sounds like some kind of marketing scheme, but it is just an application that has allowed me to easily track my billable hours measure performance and make better business decisions - and best of all the learning curve was close to zero. How will a time and billing program help you?
Track The Time It Takes To Work On Each Activity, For Each Client Tracking each activity provided me with valuable information. I was soon able to spot my areas of weakness by looking at activities that took me too long to complete. These areas were like bottlenecks. The project went along smoothly until I reached these activities.
It's like being on a freeway, you can speed along at a good clip until you come to a standstill at the same place everyday. Imagine that you could avoid the traffic jam in that area. How much time would you save everyday? That is the idea behind tracking your project's slow areas. Try to remove these bottlenecks to improve the project pace.
How could I remove my projects' bottlenecks, allowing the entire project to be completed faster? Tracking my time allowed me to make better decisions about my projects. I could outsource work to people who specialized in my problem area, or I could invest a certain amount of quality time studying that area.
In the end, I outsourced areas that I wasn't good at, caused me stress or that I didn't want to invest the time in studying. Besides being a tool to monitor my projects' status, I also used the tool to motivate myself when I was a little tired.
See Your Earnings At A Glance
This might seem like a strange way to motivate yourself, but it worked with me. As the seconds passed, the time and billing software calculated my hourly rate. I'd flip over to my time tracker and see that I just earned $87.25 for doing something that I like to do.
The incremental billing feature is also great to see how far behind you are in your profit goals. You can figure out how much you need to earn each month, and if you are behind schedule in the middle of the month, you know to spend a few late nights to catch up. Not only was I benefiting from this program, but my clients really liked receiving a detailed invoice.
Clients Liked The Detailed Project Information
My clients really liked the print-out that I started sending them with the details of their project. They could easily see where their money was being invested. Using the program gave me more credibility with my customers. The record keeping helps anticipate customer's questions and concerns. Instead of receiving an invoice that said, "Web Site Development, x dollars", they received a detailed breakdown of the entire development process.
Also, in the past when I did some free work, I would never tell the client about it. With this product, I was able to list the complimentary service that I undertook for them and how long the free work took me. So, now the client would know that they had received some free services but I didn't have to verbally tell them.
The clients also liked that I tracked their project work with a timer. They knew that if I had lunch, or received a phone call that this time wasn't tacked on to their project. I would always tell clients about this feature when we were discussing my billing procedures.
Start And Stop The Timer Feature
The stop and start timer was one of my favorite features when I first downloaded the software. It made me feel more confident about the hours that I put into a project. As web designers and developers, we can be interrupted often by clients and colleagues (and coffee breaks, if you take any!). When I received a call, I just clicked the stop or pause button until I could get back to the project. I also liked the ability to print client invoices directly from this program.
Print Invoices Directly From The Program
Invoices can be printed directly from the time and billing software, or they can be exported to Microsoft Excel and Lotus for other uses. This was a real time saver when I created my monthly invoices. Besides printing data for hourly rate services, you can track flat fee services.
Track Time, Insert Flat Fee Rates, Or Insert Down Payments
So far, I have discussed tracking time, but this product also inserts down payments. Notice the ($100) that is subtracted from the other totals in Figure 1.2. This represents a pre-payment from the client and it is subtracted from the amount the client owes in services. The program will also accept flat fee services, like hosting services.
If you prefer to charge you clients based on a predetermined flat fee, then this project could help you become more accurate in predicting your costs.
Estimate Future Flat Fee Projects If You Track Your Activities.
Similar activities can be grouped together by this time and billing software to help you make better time estimates, find out your bottlenecks, or other information that you would find useful. You can use this information to more accurately bid on a flat fee project. Filtering your activities can help keep you from undercharging on jobs. If you are working on jobs with groups of people, you don't need to worry.
The Time And Billing Software Works Across Networks
Multiple users can use the product simultaneously to keep track of project activities and times. However, for the filters to work, you would need to predetermine activity names. There are some examples in the following video.
Video Tutorial Of A Time And Billing Software Called Legal Billing
In this quick video tutorial, you learn most of the features of Legal Billing, the product I've personally been using. There are other similar projects but this will give you an idea of how they work.
Watch the Legal Billing video. Opens new window. Approximate download size: 3 MB. Video length is 7 minutes.
Legal Billing is a program for IBM Compatible machines. Unless you are using Virtual PC, Macintosh users cannot use this program. However, there are similar programs for the Macintosh computer, like Sambucus by Logiciels Malus Softwares. Sambucus works on OSX only and is shareware, available to try free for 30 days.
This time and billing software, Legal Billing, did what I wanted without adding in a bunch of confusing extra features that I would not use anyway. The product was also very inexpensive, especially if you look at combining the Legal Billing software with their other excellent software titles. Try this software free for one month. You will make more money, find out what aspects of your projects slow you down and you will get more accurate at estimating flat fee projects. Visit Chaos Software for a free trial version.
To view the videos offline, click Download Support Files at the bottom of this page. Extract the zip file to a folder on your computer and double-click video\index.htm to launch the tutorial in your default browser.
Approximate download size: 2.6MB
Page 1 of 1 1
Note: This Howto was published at Community MX and was written By: Tricia Littlefield