If you bill your clients based on hourly rates, keeping track of your time is required to keep your invoices accurate.
However, if you don't bill by the hour, keeping up a weekly timesheet can feel like a waste of time and one more menial task eating up a large portion of your day. Knowing how you're spending your time is crucial for determining areas where you can be more productive and determining which tasks are most profitable.
Though you have many options for tracking your time, a simple spreadsheet can often give you the insight you need to evaluate your workload.
Free Accounting Timesheet Template
To get you started using a simple timesheet template, here is a free accounting timesheet template in Google Sheets that contains daily, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly schedules. You can also download this template into Excel or PDF format if that works better for you.
Keep in mind, the most critical part of any time-tracking tool is to use it consistently. Recreating your timesheet days (or even hours!) later can be frustrating, involving digging back through your phone logs, emails, and calendar.
BONUS: 32 Other Free Templates for Accountants
If you're looking for additional templates, Jetpack Workflow has created a set of 32 free templates for standard accounting processes. The templates include workflows for bookkeeping, financial statements, tax engagements, and audits.
Each template can be customized to meet your team's unique needs and processes.
Why You and Your Team Should Use Timesheets
There are many reasons it makes sense for you and your team to keep regular timesheets. Below are six of the most common reasons firms decide to track their time.
1. Payroll Processing
It may seem obvious, but the most basic reason for maintaining timesheets in your firm is payroll processing. Non-exempt employees should be tracking their work hours to ensure they are correctly paid for overtime hours. You'll want your staff to sign their timesheets or submit them electronically to verify their agreement with the logged hours.
Along with employee hours, you should have staff record paid time off, vacation time, and sick leave to ensure you have all the information you need to process payroll.
State overtime laws vary along with rules for paying out vacation time and other accrued benefits at the end of an employee's tenure. Thorough records of hours worked can prevent you from underpaying an employee and running into issues with your state's labor department.
2. Billing Clients
If you bill your clients on an hourly basis, you'll need to carefully track your billable hours to verify you are billing your clients correctly. Clients will expect to see detailed bills, including dates the time was worked along with which staff member performed the work. Timesheets completed in real-time will allow your billing department to accurately and promptly bill your clients.
For firms that bill hourly, staff members should note which client they worked on and what tasks were worked on, so there are records available in the event a client questions the billing.
3. Evaluating Client Costs
Whether you bill hourly or not, you should track your time by client and task. This will ensure you have the data available to determine how profitable each client or type of work is.
The most significant expense in an accounting or bookkeeping firm is staff. Not tracking staff expenses and how funds are being spent is like not reconciling your bank account regularly. A big no-no for an accountant!
4. Finding Areas to Be More Productive
Along with tracking client costs, you and your staff should track non-billable time. For any non-billable time, the more detail you add to your timesheet, the more insight you will have into processes that should be streamlined or reworked.
If you spend a lot of time contacting clients about outstanding bills or answering questions that a junior staff member could handle, you're wasting your valuable time on non-billable work.
5. Improved Project Management
Accurate and thorough timesheets help you find areas when your workflows are hitting bottlenecks and where you potentially need additional staff or to reassign tasks. Analyzing daily timesheets often leads to conversations with staff to discuss potential issues they may have been reluctant to bring up themselves.
Along with the initial evaluation, ongoing time tracking lets you monitor improvements and inefficiency. This ongoing monitoring allows you to initiate improvements in your workflow processes.
6. Identify Issues
Adequate time records will show you which staff members are being over-or under-utilized. This can prevent staff burnout and make sure everyone realizes their full potential. Monitoring timesheets may not be the most exciting activity, but it does provide valuable insight into your team dynamics.
Alternatives to Timesheets
Jetpack Workflow is an integrated workflow and client management system meant to streamline your processes and project tracking. Jetpack Workflow includes a built-in time tracking feature. The timesheet system allows you to include details about projects, which staff completed the work, and how much time was spent on the project. All of this information can be used to create analytic reports and increase productivity.
If you’re not sure about an integrated timesheet and workflow management tool, Jetpack Workflow offers a free 14-day trial so you can evaluate their system for yourself.
Time Tracking Tools
There is no shortage of freestanding time tracking tools. We’ve listed a few options below. Each option has web and mobile applications and various reporting options:
- Time Doctor - Pricing starts at $7/user/month
- Toggl - Free for one user. Team plans start at $9/user/month
- DeskTime - Free for one user. Team plans start at $7/user/month
- MyHours - Team plans start at $0/user/month though it costs more for additional features
Keep in mind that a freestanding time tracking software will need to be matched up with other data sources in order to evaluate productivity and efficiency, which means you’ll be spending additional time putting together multiple data sources to make them useful.