Studio Designer Tip of the Week: How to track hours more efficiently
Setting up a concise and well conceived list of activities is crucial to tracking time in your office effectively. As the owner, the question to ask yourself is, “In a year from now, what do I want to know about how my payroll dollars were spent and where are we spending too much time?” For example, is it important for you to distinguish between a client meeting and a client meeting that was On-site? Is it important for you to see your bookkeeping broken out as a separate activity or is it fine to lump it in with Admin?
Once you understand what is important to you to see broken out, you’ll want to make sure your Activities list facilitates that. You’ll want it to be concise, with categories not being too broad or too minute. Make sure there are no redundancies or confusing activities, that would make entry errors likely.
Also, you’ll want to include all non-billable time as well. This is especially important as we see design fees and hybrid billing models being used more and more. You must know your profitability, and without knowing how much time is being spent on each project, this is impossible.
Also, for your admin activities: You don’t want the entry of time to be too cumbersome or time consuming. I recommend bulking admin items together into one entry instead of 25 tiny entries for 5 minutes each. There is no advantage to this and it would eat up too much time to track it.
A quick way to do this; Enter all of your project specific items for the day. Let’s say you spent 6.5 hours on all project oriented activities. You were at the office for 8 hours. Thus you spent 1.5 hours, or the remainder, in random admin tasks. Simply put in one entry for Admin and perhaps detail out a few of the highlights in the description.
Below I’ve included a good example of a well conceived Activities list. Every firm is different, but this is a good place to start.
|Design Work||Concept, sketches, planning etc|
|On Site meeting||On site meeting|
|Client Meeting||(not on site) meeting with client in person or phone||Vendor Meeting||Client specific meeting with vendor|
|Expediting||Post PO creation, efforts to expedite product delivery or installation|
|Project Coordination||Non PO specific – calls, emails etc to schedule and coordinate project, subs, GC, etc|
|Project Management||Internal time spent doing SW, Binders, organizing etc required to keep project well managed|
|Admin||TB, admin, Bookkeeping, Team meetings, library upkeep|
|Marketing||Show houses, photo shoots, publication submissions, pro bono work|
Article by Julie Molloy. Molloy Management Group is the leading provider of business tools and systems to the interior design industry. They advocate for Studio Webware exclusively as the best operational tool for design firms the industry standard. For assistance with streamlining your interior design business for profit, visit www.MolloyManagement.com.