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Tracking Hours

Dear Dave
Except for very unique situations, our firm does not pay salaried professionals for “comp time”. That is hours worked over 40 in a week. As such, our weekly timesheets only show a total of 40 hours per week, regardless of how many hours are actually spent. We of course record all the billable hours, but because we limit our input to 40 hours, we have no record of how many total hours we are actually working per week. To me, in order to have a better feel for what it really takes to serve our clients (non-billable night meetings, drive times, etc.) and to market and price those services, we should be keeping track of all hours. Do other firms do this? What are the pros and cons?

Dear DA
Yes – there are without doubt other firms that stop recording salaried individual’s hours at 40 hours per week, and they are equally misguided in so doing. This is a very bad practice.

The primary purpose of tracking time is to create a record of the total effort that goes into running a firm. Sub-sets of this time may or may not be directly invoiced to clients depending on contractual limits. Some will go to indirect activities such as vacation, sick, marketing, management, etc. along with all other indirect, non-project activities. From the total time record, a sub-set of data is extracted to facilitate the preparation of payrolls based on who may or may not be paid overtime. The point being, the total effort (time) expended does not have equal the sub-set of total effort used for payroll purposes.

Is the 41st hour worked during the week by a salaried individual any less valuable than the 40th? I think not. It is still effort expended and needs to be tracked in order to produce an accurate record of what it takes to actually run all aspects of the firm. Knowing this true, full picture will allow management to make far better future strategic and operating decisions for the long term health of the organization.

Wahby and Associates