For most consultants, capturing hours spent on a project seems like a no-brainer. However, the process of capturing those hours spent is what differentiates the effective consultants and those who work throughout their waking hours with little progress. While the work will get done eventually, there is a massive difference between the consultants who chooses to work with a timesheet versus the one who works without a timesheet.
1. How the consultant timesheets work
Consultant timesheets essentially work by collecting data on the user, the project, the dates worked on, the tasks worked on and the comments if there is any information that needs to be noted. The application features different fields for collecting and working with the various data, and these features differ between software applications. However, the characteristics are summarized as follows:
1.1. Username in the consultant timesheet
This is the user's name. As a manager, you will have access to the details of the complete timesheets from other team members.
1.2. Date in the consultant timesheet
This field allows you to navigate the calendar through a weekly preview, allowing you to allocate tasks for a particular week.
1.3 Project details in the consultant timesheet
You have the capability to group tasks as per their mother project, allowing you to know the time for details you are logging in.
1.4. Tasks in the consultant timesheet
These are the tasks associated with the project. You can view jobs that have been completed and those still being worked on.
1.5. Days of the week in the consultant timesheet
This is more like a calendar allowing you to view days of the week and the tasks appropriated to those days.
1.6. Auto-totals in the consultant timesheet
These are columns and rows that will display the automated totals for hours worked on a particular task or particular days.
1.7. Notes in the consultant timesheet
Most consultant timesheets allow the user to add comments and files concerning the project or its tasks. You can also add different remarks on why the project took the hours it needed, and what could be avoided.
2. The value of capturing data in the consultant timesheet
For any project, metrics give valuable insight on ensuring that you can correctly scope the project, hence allowing the team to manage the project to the pre-defined budget.
Other not-so-obvious benefits that come with using a consultant timesheet for project management:
2.1. Accurate billing to clients with the consultant timesheet
Managing your timesheet will help you determine how to bill for consulting services as there may be some tasks that are billable and non-billable depending on your agreement with your client. Consultant timesheets allow you to ascertain the number of hours worked correctly. It is much easier to collect the time and expenses worked on the project using a timesheet than it would be when working from different platforms to manage this information.
2.2. Improved project efficiency with the consultant timesheet
While not obvious, using a timesheet makes your working schedules more efficient. When you can track to precision every individual task, you can focus more on each job, getting the most at the end. This bite-sized approach to efficiency translates to an overall improvement on the project.
2.3. Track consultant utilization rate with the consultant timesheet
For projects where the client is billed by the hour, the timesheet allows you to monitor the hours you have spent on the project. This especially helps when using a consulting contract template to know how much to charge. This move translates to the benefit of accurate billing as well as transparency between the client and you, the project manager. Some clients will prefer their contractors to use their specific type of timesheet to have a bird’s eye's view on how the project fares on. This also cements the working relationship between the two.
2.4. Focus on milestones with the consultant timesheet
A consultant timesheet allows you to focus on benchmarks, deliverables and ship dates that you may have otherwise overlooked till the last minutes. Timesheets also will enable you to determine if you have allocated too many tasks for a particular timeframe, allowing you to work with bite-sized time chunks which are more effective than handling everything all at once.
These benefits are not conclusive, but they give a general view of how efficiency is enhanced by incorporating a consultant timesheet for project management. These benefits apply to big and small projects alike. When you can track your time and everything that goes on, you will be able to know how well you are performing in all your projects.