Measuring ROI – Timesheets For A Digital Agency

BC Web Wise Blog Author

Nitin Patil is PHP Team Lead @ BC Web Wise

Do you get a clearly defined commitment from your agency on the resources and time, and cost of tools it invests in your project? Are you able to identify why you are spending X for your agency retainer or a development project? If you are often challenged by a lack of transparency then read on.

The Time Warp

At BC Web Wise, we figured a few years back that an average employee spends around 8 hours in the office moving from one task to another. We defined costs by fair assumptions on the time a job would take. But not withstanding the same, we found a 3-month project at the onset, turned out at times to be a 9 month project or may be even more. The broad scope remained the same. Yet, the work just rolled over. Possibly more layouts were demanded, sections were added, content was being updated because we were behind schedule, client was not available, brand manager changed, logos changed, their branding changed. However pinning it down to how much time we spent on the project was almost next to impossible.

On the other hand we also had certain projects where the client assigned a retainer but did not allocate the work as expected. Monthly updates did not happen because the client was not available for approval of the idea. So no execution happened. It might seem like money for nothing, but not without a big cost to us. At the end year, while accounting for the retainer it becomes a challenge to again summarize what was done and what, if not, was not done and ensuring that we were able to justify the retainer.

So some web research and review of tons of products made us realize how critical it was to understand the efficiency of each employee and evaluate the work carried out by each on a daily basis, and came up with a very simple and easy solution : The Time Sheet.

The Time Sheet

Time sheets are a systematic record of our team members daily tasks with relation to the time spent on its completion. Computers and the Internet have made the process of entering data very simple, as well as generation of reports a matter of a few clicks.

The Time Sheet helps us to track the time spent on each account, maximize profit and keep clients in the loop through total transparency. Everyone in our team, including the administrative staff and non core-product development teams, sales and servicing teams, finance etc. fill the task sheet. With this we have been able to effectively measure the cost of management and production of our accounts.

Not only has this helped us to accurately gauge the profitability of each individual client but tracking time spent on our client’s accounts has enabled to understand cost allocations and ROI. It means that both strengths and weaknesses are 100% visible pushing everyone to work their hardest and most efficiently at all times. In addition, it also allows us to identify inefficiencies in both our processes and individual team members. For example, we can identify individuals within a team taking more time than average on a specific task and then provide coaching to help the individual work more efficiently and improve upon their weaknesses.

Time Tracking Helped Lower Costs In 3 ways:

  1. Making processing more efficient
  2. Making costs visible so you can lower them
  3. Accurate billing and Timely invoicing

Time tracking increased our revenue, as we were able to get correct invoices out for all hours utilized in working for a particular account over a period of time. It speeds up the overall payment cycle, right from invoicing and receipt.

Timesheets Help Projections of Costs & Timelines

Further the timesheets has helped us accurately build a body of knowledge about how much effort different jobs take to develop. For example if developing a 50 page non-flash or animation based website has historically taken 2 months, then it can be assumed that creating a new one will take 2 months. Equally we are able to identify and apprise clients about potential delays that can be caused from their end. Our timesheet software has the ability to track resource costs and project expenses to allow for better future budgeting.

How Timesheets Can Work For You and the Client

Historical data, if not already mapped will be impossible to track should there be no data inputted already. Ask for a record of monthly efforts to be shared and recorded starting today. You will not only get accountability but will be able to understand the efforts digital campaigns require much better. You can move towards getting better ROI, focusing on jobs that are delivering and those that are not so efficient.

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