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Attn: lawyers and others. Software for tracking working times.

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Those of you whose work involves precisely tracking your working hours in order to bill clients, what software do you use to record that data? Do you use just a spreadsheet or a more advanced system that allows your superiors to monitor and analyze your time? I am interested in installing a system like the latter to track my subcontractors, analyze trends, build reports, generate invoices, etc. Is there a name for this genre of software (e.g. CRM, supply chain, ERP)?
post #2 of 17
PSA - professional services automation. Captera, Noviant, QuickArrow are some names off the top of my head. Most will probably cost more than you want to spend and would probably prefer selling to a larger organization. I don't know if there are cheap single-user versions available.

dan
post #3 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
Is there a name for this genre of software (e.g. CRM, supply chain, ERP)?

Those are all different animals, and generally much more expensive than you want. If your business is not doing more than $5 million per year, I'd suggest that you avoid people trying to sell you something under that name. Generally, these systems help with the accounting and posting cost to the correct general ledger accounts.

Subcontractors should really be monitored via your PO system. You should have an estimate from them for a set quantity of work and it then becomes their responsibility to alert you when they are going to exceed it. You would then revise your PO if needed.

Supply Chain is much more oriented to manufacturing companies and not service companies.

Look instead to something like quickbooks, or hand coding your own version of an access (or similar easy-to-use) database. Unless you're going to go to the level of keystroke logging, your time reporting is only going to be as accurate as the people who put it in. That being said, if you are doing hourly time, IT MUST BE ENTERED DAILY. If you do a weekly timesheet, you will have an amazingly creative document.

Take a look at what you actually need to track. Generally there are a few time categories that you need to figure out how to deal with: time billable to a client, admin or other non-productive work time and then however many ways you want to track vacations, jury duty, bereavement, etc.

After those broad categories, you can provide coding to subdivide time further - time spent on phone calls, reading mail, research, etc.

Consider having employees and subs sign their timesheets. It can be useful if something ever goes to court.
post #4 of 17
My firm uses a proprietary system developed a few years ago and based on a system we used called Carpe Diem. I also have experience with a system called Maconomy. Both of these are, as I understand it, very expensive, and designed for hundreds of employees.

More suited to your needs may be QuickBooks Professional Services, whic, in addition to general accounting, also has a timekeeping function that seems pretty decent. Although I haven't yet figured out all that it does, it can do all of the things you are seeking -- analysis, graphs, integration to invoicing.

Now, since you have an IT background, you may find this software easier to use than do I. It's somewhat complicated overall (not the timekeeping function). But I think it is a very robust package.
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Dah328, thanks for the name. With that in hand I googled my way to OpenPSA which does exactly what I'm looking for. Countdemoney: Are you suggesting a non-paperless system when you mention signing timesheets? I would very much prefer a completely paperless system to eliminate the hassle of data entry. GreyFlannelMan: I am currently using QuickBooks for my accounting but I find it woefully inadequate, especially because it does NOT offer remote web access for subs to fill in their hours. With OpenPSA, I intend to use it to manage a lot of detailed PSA data, use Quicken for top-level accounting and manually input aggregate numbers from OpenPSA into QuickBooks. edit to add: NOT
post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreyFlannelMan
n a system we used called Carpe Diem.

Great irony there!
post #7 of 17
wind2
post #8 of 17
I will take this opportunity to gloat that I no longer subdivide my day into 3-minute intervals.
post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Checks
I will take this opportunity to gloat that I no longer subdivide my day into 3-minute intervals.
Were you Mr. "Attention to file: 8.5"?
post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
Countdemoney: Are you suggesting a non-paperless system when you mention signing timesheets? I would very much prefer a completely paperless system to eliminate the hassle of data entry.


You're doing data entry no matter what, it's just a question of who and how many times. Sorry, just picking nits. With highly paid employees you can make the argument that it's cheaper to have them scribble it on a piece of paper to be re-entered by someone at a clerical rate.

But for what I am talking about, the employee enters their time into your computer system. After entry, the employee prints and signs a summary report of the data they just entered. For more control, you can even make a manager counter-sign the summary. You then file the signed summary report in a box somewhere.

Signed summary reports protect in cases where you are sued for overbilling, provide back-up in the case of audits, and provide extra protection in the case of hardware failure or malicious computer activity.
post #11 of 17
Kent - there are quite a few open source options worth testing...as a self professed Master of the Internets Im sure you can mine something out of Sourceforge (we did) Previous company just did it on Excel. Company before that custom built a system in Filemaker. Lots of other agencies I know of do it with Quickbooks
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by m@T
Kent - there are quite a few open source options worth testing...as a self professed Master of the Internets Im sure you can mine something out of Sourceforge (we did)
What did you find? I have only found OpenPSA.
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
What did you find? I have only found OpenPSA.
knock yourself out
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
Were you Mr. "Attention to file: 8.5"?

I wish. I'd still be in private practice if I could get away with that.
post #15 of 17
what did you end up using Kent?
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