Far too often, accounting firm professionals record fewer hours than they’ve actually worked. Sometimes they simply forget to log hours here or there; other times, they discount hours when their actual work performed exceeds the stated engagement terms. Either way, failing to track all time during an engagement is an unfortunate fact of life in the accounting world, and the result is that firms end up “eating hours” on many engagements due to chronically inaccurate time sheets.
Relying on human memory and initiative can make the essential business of logging hours needlessly challenging and inaccurate. Using automation to aid time tracking for accountants can be the key to helping your firm spend more time eating lunch rather than hours.
Coping with manual time tracking
Manually tracking time can be a problem for leadership, accountants, and staff. Fewer hours booked than worked leads to revenue leakage for both time and materials (T&M) engagements and fixed-fee engagements — when there are opportunities for out-of-scope billings.
Manual processes can also result in inaccurate time data — and bad data can in turn negatively impact pricing analysis, budgeting, and future proposals. The result: a vicious cycle of poorly scoped work and underpriced engagements that further erodes firm margins.
Manual time tracking for accountants can also lead to staff burnout. When timesheet data doesn’t capture the true effort required for an engagement, your professionals are effectively working way more in real life than on paper — without getting recognized or compensated for such.
So, how can we, as professionals, stop “eating” hours and get some time back to eat our lunches instead?
Tracking for better efficiency
Adopting timekeeping best practices requires a behavioral and cultural shift by firm professionals. To support their professionals, firms can provide a path of least resistance — and in today’s world, that path involves intuitive, purpose-built technology.
By implementing time management software designed to improve time tracking for accountants, firms can provide their teams with all the tools they need for easy, accurate timekeeping. An easy-to-use “digital assistant” can help drive efficient timekeeping by making it less burdensome, thanks to features like timers, a mobile app, a “day in review” summary, instantaneous time capture, and other useful tracking methods.
Improving data accuracy
An optimized, automated process can also greatly improve the integrity of your qualifying data. With state-of-the-art time management software and best practices, you can gain:
- Accuracy: Create highly accurate, detailed time data reports for review and approval
- Timeliness: Make time data available in real time
- Completeness: Reduce revenue leakage and increase billable hours with complete time capture
Enabling deeper insights
By implementing time management software and following timekeeping best practices, firms can gather and analyze robust data to drive powerful insights and deeper understanding of trends. Custom reporting dashboards with enhanced analytics and AI can offer full visibility into key metrics affecting the health of a firm’s operations (such as employee burnout rate) and finances (such as profitability and margin) that can inform strategic decisions.
Happier professionals and increased firm profitability are a win-win situation. Automated time tracking for accountants is the game-changer in the professional services industry. So go ahead, eat your lunch instead of hours.