When you create a budget, you need to have historical data that you can draw upon. How do you get historical data? By keeping time logs, you will be able to more accurately estimate how long a project can take. Author Richard Harrington discusses the importance of keeping time logs from all parts of a project.
- We already mentioned the concept of having historical data to draw upon. This going to help your company really succeed as it grows and matures. Keeping time logs is pretty essential. But it's not something that comes natural to most creatives. With time tracking this is absolutely essential if you're working on a time and materials contract. This is the type of contract where you are getting reimbursed for any expenses you incur. As well as the time spent. Additionally, it's going to be quite useful for evalutating your fixed price jobs.
This going to allow you to easily determine if you are accurate in your budgeting. And learn from mistakes. For example. In my cay career I realized that I was too optimistic. Now, I still try to maintain a positive demeanor, but I realized that when it came to time I tended to under estimate a little bit. Now, as I've matured and I've become faster I've also noticed that sometimes some of my team members over estimate their time. They want to make sure that they're well protected and that they've got enough time to do their job. Well, sometimes to remain competitive as a business we've got to trim those budgets.
And it becomes important that not only that we tighten up the budget, but we communicate to the team member that they might have to adjust their approach. After all, a feature commercial or a television spot is going to have a bigger budget and higher production value than your typical corporate video or non profit video. As such we might have to tweak or adjust our production values and our post production values. By tracking time and helping people track time it's a lot easier for people to stick a budget. As well as develop more accurate budgets in the future.
Ultimately, you want to use some sort of software system to make this process easier. And you need to decide how often these reports need to be collected. I typically recommend that you collect these at the end of each work day if possible. Now, this is very difficult to do and even in my own company people fall a bit short. But time tracking as absolutely essential. A simple search for time tracking software will bring up many different hits. You'll find ones that are free services.
As well as ones that are paid applications. Depending on the size of your organization there's a lot you can look for. Additionally, taking a look at things like the Mac App Store brings up a plethora of hits for time tracking. There are also many mobile apps available for both IOS and Android. Make this process easier. Ideally people will track their time. And there's a lot of choices out there as to how you do it. The important thing with time tracking is to make it part of you culture.
Explain to the employees and contractors that you're not really concerned about their performance. It's not that you don't trust them. Rather, it's that you're trying to learn. You want to make sure that the budgets that you are creating and the time estimates which drive the revenue for the company and pays everyone are actually accurate. And you're trying to accomplish things to make sure that the systems that are in place, the tools and the technology as well as the work flows are as efficient as possible. This is simply like taking the temperature. No one is mad that it is hot or cold.
You can't really control the sun. But it does help you plan accordingly. By measuring the temperature you can make the right decisions on how to approach the day. It's the same thing with time tracking. By noticing how long it's taking to accomplish things you can make small adjustments to improve performance or choose what equipment or staffing is in place to lead the the most efficiency. Time tracking helps you make better decisions and it ensures that in the future, or even on that project if you're working on flexibility of time and materials, that you get paid for the work that's done.
Which really is the key to success.
- Evaluating outsourcing and partnering options
- Setting your rates
- Incorporating material and overhead costs
- Scoping the project
- Estimating the production time
- Collecting data with time tracking
- Creating a quote or proposal
- Setting payment terms
- Creating an invoice with Word or Pages
- Dealing with billing and collections