The next time I implement a time-sheeting system

Salvador-Dali-soft-clock-300x243I will not punish my consultants for being billable on client site by requiring them to log into a VPN, use IE6, use ActiveX downloads, or place other cruel and unusual barriers to them billing time.

I will not make my consultants learn Sage codes, SAP codes, Navision codes, Oracle Financials codes or any other accounting system that man has invented. My consultants should know the client, the project and the hours they have worked. My finance team can work out how clients and projects map to their systems.

As an exercise, I will design a Word template which captures everything I need, along with a space for the client to sign, which my consultants can print out, complete and post to my office. This is admittedly a stupid, slow and painful solution. Any technology solution that manages to be stupider, slower and more painful should be ruled out. Whatever technology solution I chose, I will make sure that everyone involved understands the fall back plan is the Word template. It is not putting our time recording and invoicing process on hold.

I will ask any consultant involved in the adoption process how hard they think it is to deliver a time-sheeting project. Anyone who thinks it is easy can try parsing a date string in Java, and come back when they’re done.

I will assume that public holidays, leave and sickness are certainties for any human consultant, and make it easy for them to log time against these events, however else I decide to control availability of projects and clients.

I will operate a one-in, one-out policy for time-sheeting systems. If it is cheaper for hundreds or thousands of consultants to enter the same data in two different systems than to integrate those systems, I will find a cheaper system.

I will be extremely wary of ‘time-sheeting modules’ for my accounts package, my ERP package, my project planning package or my content management system. It would admittedly be nice if one system did everything. But it would be better if my time-sheeting system was usable. And worked on client site.

I will remember that my managers will be keen to control consultants recording time against the ‘wrong’ activities. I will be open-minded about any technology measures that are put in place to support these controls. I will also ask my managers to operate the Word template system in the event of these controls preventing anyone recording time.

I will ask any supplier ‘how do I get time records out of your system.’ I will then ask ‘how do I get my clients, projects and staff into your system.’ I will carefully consider the time it takes to do these things against the number of time records, clients, projects and staff I have to deal with.

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