“Punch in, punch out, Maverick.”

I spend much of my work life speaking with the managers and principals of advertising and creative services firms. Each agency faces unique workflow challenges, but one of the most common ones cited is the sporadic submission of employee time sheets. An agency’s inventory is the amount of time employees spend on projects — it’s the product you’re selling. The importance of accurate time reporting cannot be overstated; your agency’s health depends on it. Having reliable data on the number of hours put into a project can not only be the difference between a profitable agency and one that’s losing money, but it’ll also offer a principal other key insights including informing staffing decisions and the ability to more accurately estimate new projects.

The next question is, of course, how to get your employees to faithfully record and submit their hours? I recently heard someone say, “You shouldn’t point out a problem unless you’ve prepared a solution.” — an adage I’m going to try to live by — so I have a solution. It starts with education. Your employees should know the importance of recording billable time. We’re all in this together and everyone wants to keep the lights on in the agency. Set the right expectations and put a clear process in place. Prepare for contingencies and eliminate room for excuses.

At Developware, we’ve addressed this issue by implementing a feature in CurrentTrack® which helps agency principals enforce a time sheet policy. Users of CurrentTrack can be flagged as time sheet required. You can also set how long an employee has to enter their time. At the specified time, if a user has an overdue time sheet, CurrentTrack displays a pop-up notification letting them know they’re missing a time sheet. They’re then brought to the screen where they can easily complete it. The user isn’t permitted to continue using the system until their time sheet has been successfully completed and filed. This might be some tough love for the offenders, but your business depends on it!

Please share your time sheet policy and enforcement methods in the comments!

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