Tempus Fugit! Why Capture Time Efficiently in Your Creative Agency?

One of the compulsory subjects during my time at High School was Latin and I endured a couple of years trying to learn this intimidating and complicated language. For some reason, the expression “Tempus Fugit” ingrained itself on my memory. Literally, it means “time flies” — and while this didn’t happen in my Latin lessons we all know that in the real world, time is continually ticking away and once it has passed it cannot be recovered, but it can be understood.

In some businesses, the ability to track time effectively and efficiently is crucial to success. This is certainly the case for creative agencies and the need to understand that where those precious hours are being spent will ultimately help to drive profitability.

I work with a number of businesses that rely on timesheets to help drive their revenues and profitability. I’ve probably heard every excuse possible for not completing them fully or on time. There can be a degree of suspicion and apprehension from employees. Others will believe that they need to be trusted with their time and shouldn’t have to account for it. Owners may believe that they have an empirical feel for the business and will “know” which projects are making money and which employees aren’t performing. Unfortunately, without accurate data, it is very difficult for a business to make truly reasoned decisions on pricing and resources. A decent time reporting system is an invaluable tool.

The key to capturing time in a way that doesn’t offend or upset employees is to keep it as simple and as high level as possible. There is no point in being too granular. Adoption of sensible categories that are well-defined and clearly understood will reap benefits. Timely collection of the data is also important — a late timesheet being submitted after a job has been invoiced and closed isn’t helpful to anyone.

Of course, it is important to remember that time tracking is just a tool in the management of a business and must not be allowed to numb collaboration, innovation, and culture, essential ingredients to success.

Timesheets aren’t supposed to be painful. The data you gather is highly valuable for your agency success if properly managed. Source: Dilbert

So let’s summarize how timesheets and the resultant reports may help you better manage your agency

  • They allow for better pricing decisions and profitability tracking.
  • They are a tool to aid employee improvement (through looking at time spent vs. budget vs. peers) via training.
  • Allow you to access processes and gain insight into tasks that are the most/least time-consuming.
  • The data will assist in the objective evaluation of employees and roles within the business, find gaps and improve resource allocation.

Kevin Meaking | fp.Partner (and timesheet advocate!)

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