Why You Need to Kill the Timesheet

Scott Yates
Scott Yates



Normally I don’t advocate violence, but in this case, I'll make an exception.

It is time to kill those antiquated, annoying, and useless things known as timesheets, or as I prefer to call them: time sucks.

If the thought of killing your timesheets strikes fear in your heart, take a moment to examine why. What are those timesheets doing for you? Are they helping you provide better service to your clients? Are they keeping your employees on task?

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I don’t think so. I say they need to die. Let’s start with the timesheets you use for client contracts.

There are two basic ways of pricing goods and services: cost-plus pricing and value-based pricing. With cost-plus, the price is based on the cost of production plus the profit you tack on. In this case, timesheets are a tool you’d likely use to determine your cost.

Value-based pricing, on the other hand, has little to do with how much time you spend and everything to do with the final result. The price is determined by what the customer is willing to pay. The more value your clients assign to your services, the higher price you can charge them. It doesn’t matter how much time, effort, or resources you put in.

Let’s face it — your clients don’t care even the tiniest bit about how many hours it takes you to do something. They don’t care how much it costs you to do it.

What do your clients care about? The final result and whether it meets their needs and accomplishes their goals. They’re also concerned about things like turnaround time, whether you’re responsive and attentive, and if you understand what they really want. The value to them is based on how much money they will save or how much additional income they’ll make by using your services.

The key here lies in thinking from the customer’s perspective and focusing on meeting his needs.

Value-based pricing is a win-win because the client is paying based on his perceived value. He is satisfied with the price because the price is based on how much he values your services. Your agency wins because you know what needs to be done and how much you’re going to make for doing it. You are essentially awarded for working faster and more efficiently. Often, you will make more than you would have by employing cost-plus pricing. Bonus: You won’t waste any precious time filling out timesheets.

I can hear your question now: But without timesheets, how will we know if we’re making money?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t take into consideration the time that will be spent on the project, but the process begins with determining value. Once you know the value of what you’re offering to the customer, you have a price to work with. I’m willing to bet that you can quickly estimate how much time a project will take and determine if it would be a cost-effective deal for you.

So are you ready to kill those timesheets yet?

If you can follow my logic but you’re still afraid, maybe what you’re feeling is simply the fear of change. You’ve always used timesheets. It’s not easy to just abruptly eliminate them. It’s like you’ve been on crutches your entire life, and then one day, you find out you can walk without them. Now you can throw away the crutches, but you’re so used to having them around, you’re not quite sure you can manage without them.

You can do it! Cast off those timesheets, and put them to rest.

Now, what about timesheets for your employees? Surely I’m not asking you to give those up, right?

Wrong. These timesheets must also die. Kill them. Kill them now.

BlogMutt is my third company, and I have never asked an employee for a timesheet, so I feel confident in telling you that you don’t need these either.

Here comes the fear again. And here comes the question: How do I know my employees will work if I don’t make them fill out timesheets?

If you’ve ever had a job that paid an hourly wage, you know that trading your time for money does not necessarily lead to increased productivity or efficiency. Beyond that, there is a very real and pressing issue you need to consider: Skilled professionals don’t appreciate being treated like children.

If you want to attract and retain top talent, using timesheets is not only unnecessary, it’s a liability. In a survey of 8,000 people in 35 industries, respondents listed reasons why they stayed with their companies. “Fair pay and benefits” was only the only item on the top 10 list that was related to salary. Most of the reasons had to do with things like work environment and relationships: supportive management, pride in the organization, meaningful work, autonomy, and being recognized, valued, and respected.

Keeping good talent means treating your employees like adults, respecting them, and refusing to waste their time. Timesheets do not meet these criteria.

If an employee is going to take advantage of your trust without timesheets, then they’re not a good fit for your company, and having them log their hours is not going to fix that problem. Again, this comes down to value. It’s about what your employees contribute to the company and what you’re willing to offer in payment for that contribution. The more they sense you trust them to do their job, the more invested they will be in the results.

You can do it. Overcome your fear. Kill the timesheet. Provide your clients with value, empower your employees, and get your time back.

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