Most accountants would admit that their timesheets are (in part at least) compiled using guesswork. Part of the issue is that logging time is, in itself, a waste of time. Does your firm have a timesheet code for “Posting my Timesheet”? Maybe this falls under “Admin time” or similar, but the task of logging time is often not given the importance it perhaps deserves. After all, the WIP generated from timesheets is the lifeblood of most practices.
As a result of their deemed low priority, timesheets are often inaccurate. What’s more, the extent of the inaccuracy can be linked to the frequency of time logging activity. For example, those who log time on a daily basis will tend to record time more accurately than those who log it once a week. Various studies have expressed consistent results to back this up. For further proof, science has proved that frequency matters. The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve suggests that humans only retain 23 percent of what they learn after six days. So unless you’ve been working on the same project over the past week, it is unlikely you will be accurate with your time logging.
If we accept that logging more often is more accurate, where should we draw the line? Should I log my time morning and afternoon? Every hour? Every 10 minutes? As well as being impractical, logging entries multiple times a day has shown to reduce accuracy, when compared to once daily. So it seems daily logging is probably about right.
The future of Timesheets has to be automation…
Like most things automation may be the key to increasing efficiency and accuracy of time logging. If we take away the reliance on human memory, we surely have much more steadfast results. More and more organisations are looking to software to solve issues of this nature. Automating time postings based on email traffic and/or phone calls is a route some businesses are following, with some reported success. These solutions act more as prompts for users to allocate specific timings later. So an element of guesswork is still involved.
Taking this a step further, automated time postings based on calendar entries would give that extra element of quantity of time. Many of us use our calendar for more than just meetings and annual leave; we are increasingly using our calendars to plan every working hour. Therefore, having an automated timesheet based on my calendar is useful, but assuming my calendar can be referred to retrospectively, maybe it would just save me the time of manually copying entries.
Surely the most accurate results would come from the software we use most? Whether it be Accounts Production work, Audit work or Tax work, I am likely to be using software for the majority of this time. So we should probably be looking to software providers like CaseWare, to help us log our time automatically and more importantly, accurately.
Have you used the FREE TRIAL of Timesheets in CaseWare Cloud?
The Timesheets features in CaseWare Cloud allow users to integrate with a calendar of their choice (Google or Office365). Pending time entries are then logged automatically to match. Furthermore, time spent in any desktop or cloud engagement file is also logged automatically and assigned to the relevant client and project. For more information on Timesheet automation in CaseWare Cloud, watch our video.