Time & Budgets

  • 14 September 2021
  • 10 replies
  • 142 views

Userlevel 2
Badge +1

We are a practice that moved away from time billing to fixed price billing.  This means that our time is largely an internal cost control measure to ensure that the pricing was both competitive and covers the labour hours.

I am currently using TSheets to record at client level and using the custom fields to record against the type of job completed for the client but would like to move to Karbon’s T&B function to streamline the number of pieces of software we have on the go.

Does anyone use T&B in this manner and how have you got yours set up?  I’d rather not have to record at a Job level if I can help it beyond recording time spent on the client with a relevant tag but can’t seem to figure out how that is possible?

Also - I’m finding the reports a little basic (in comparison to the Email and Work Insights board).  Does anyone use an additional reporting tool to give insight?


10 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +19

I’m also working to move from T-Sheets to Karbon-only time and billing, so I’m curious to hear what others suggest.

Userlevel 2
Badge +2

We converted over from Tsheets to Karbon, and love it.  We, too, are fixed fee and so time is really as a gauge to determine if we are being efficient, not out of scope, etc.  We are putting our time against jobs because otherwise it is a big list of time on the client side that seems like I’ll have to do more sorting to analyze.  With putting the time against jobs, at least I know it is month-end for July, vs Payroll processing or sales tax filing, etc.  And since the team member is already in the job when they record their time, Karbon fills that in for them anyway.  I do want more reporting, and also an integration with payroll, etc.  But baby steps, right?  :grin:

Userlevel 1

We are also a fixed fee firm considering implementing Time & Budgets for internal capacity planning as well as analyzing profitability of jobs. When you say you converted from Tsheets to Karbon, do you mean that you’ve integrated Tsheets and Karbon and now use Karbon’s in-app time tracking features? Or is there a way to move away from Tsheets completely and just use Karbon (i.e. no integration)?

The major challenge that we are facing with Time & Budgets is that we deal almost exclusively in groups - we have a single engagement (fixed fee) that covers a group of businesses, as well as their individual owners. Karbon’s client group feature has been a game-changer in tracking our projects and managing these groups of clients. Unfortunately, the time tracked at the group-member level (a specific client) doesn’t roll up into the client group. This makes it impossible for us to efficiently use Time & Budgets for useful analysis.

We thought we could overcome the challenge by choosing to track time only against our client group contacts, and not against individual work items. But we’ve come to realize that you can’t set budgets at the contact level, only at the work item level. So we would lose the budgeting functionality completely by doing it that way.

We are now considering making it a policy to assign ALL work items to the client group, but that is kind of a clunky work around that doesn’t always make sense, and will add some unnecessary complexity to tracking work.

I’m curious if anyone has any idea on the best practice here? Or if anyone is facing similar challenge? It feel like there should be a better way. :sweat_smile:

Userlevel 5
Badge +5

As all of you are working on Karbon T&B, can you keep us updated with your experience on this thread?  We are also fixed fee, and this will be a big project for us in the coming year, moving from our in-house tracking to tracking in Karbon.  There are likely a lot of other firms looking into this as well, and we all would benefit from your experience!

Userlevel 6
Badge +9

I am very interested in the thread as well, we price using fixed fees.

Can I ask are you tracking time for payroll or just for capacity planning?

We have made a big deal of not asking our staff to track their time, all are on annual salary so we hold them accountable to objectives not time (the objectives are around quality, on time deliverables, contribution to revenue based on a charge out rate and productivity expectations - all results driven).  

There is sometimes a disconnect between the fee and the budget - we are working on the best way to reconcile that so we know if we need to change the fee, train the staff, change the process….

I will be watching this thread for your amazing and creative insights!

Userlevel 7
Badge +19

We have not transitioned to fixed fee, though we are trying, and all new clients come in at fixed fee.

I really like the Karbon time functions, and we are in the testing phase with a small team. The billing in QBO was horrendous when keeping time through the QBT integration, so we are looking to simplify the billing portion.

Karbon is sending us a billing sheet each month with the time with the intention of uploading the time to QBO for billing purposes (for an extra support fee). We’ll see how that goes.

I think once the billing piece is hammered out in Karbon, this will be a killer feature.

As far as PTO, one workaround that I intend to use is setting up a PTO client and having people put time to it. We’ll track PTO on a spreadsheet until something more solid comes through Karbon. We use comp time, which seems to be a foreign concept to most time and billing systems, so we may end up with a hybrid home-grown system for a while until I can get us over to unlimited PTO (lol).

Anyone else have a workaround or handle the things I’ve mentioned here? I would love to not re-invent this wheel.

Userlevel 4
Badge +3

This is a really great thread with amazing insight from various firms. Agree with many of the responses for using Karbon T&B to grade realization and capacity resources utilized, not the billing/value metric. 

The move away from TSheets integration to Karbon in-app T&B was an easy one for us. Because your team is already on the work timeline to sign-off tasks, respond to emails/notes, etc the T&B tab is sitting right there for team to record time. All in one place!

The other truly amazing thing about Karbon in-app T&B, the "artificial intelligence" tracks all the work  timelines you took action on in a given day. So if your team prefers to record time at the end of their day, Karbon timesheet will give you suggested time entries based on the AI tracking of work timelines you took action on that day.

 

As Jamie said, we too desire to aggregate time data at the Group level for better realization and capacity planning for our client relationships. We use client groups to setup our client relationships. For example, John and Jane Doe is the root level relationship, setup as client group. We then add members to the group for all of John and Jane's business entities (setup as organizations). For example, maybe they have an operating entity, a real estate holding entity, and then a family trust entity. All of these are setup as organizations and nested as members under the Group.

 

It would be nice if you could aggregate time budget and actual time data to the client group level. This would allow for better capacity planning of time commitments our firm has committed to 1 relationship.

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +19

The other truly amazing thing about Karbon in-app T&B, the "artificial intelligence" tracks all the work  timelines you took action on in a given day. So if your team prefers to record time at the end of their day, Karbon timesheet will give you suggested time entries based on the AI tracking of work timelines you took action on that day.

 

True. We have not started using this, but I love it every time I go in and see it.

Userlevel 1
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We moved from T-Sheets to Karbon when their timesheeting feature came out.

We record time at a job level, if there is one set up, because we want to know how much time we have spent at that level.

When we calculate our fixed fee, we look at a number of factors, one of which is the profit we want / need to make from the client for the year.  the only way to know this at a reasonably granular level is how much time is being spent on each of the jobs which make up the work to be performed for the client.

Also, we want to know if staff are taking too long on jobs so that we can identify training needs within our firm.

 

Hope that helps.

Userlevel 3
Badge +8

When you offer your clients fixed fee packages, very often one package consists of a few different types of work - e.g. Bookkeeping could include quartely VAT and Monthly MI.

To easily track the time and budget in Karbon we would create a recurring monthly Bookkeeping job, a monthly MI job and a Quarterly VAT job. Then we would split the fixed fee between these jobs and set a budget for each of them (because Bookkeeping is a cheaper service than VAT for example). Our team enter their time accordingly. 

This way we can make sure that our internal resources are split out correctly and we are not undercharging or overcharging clients. 

I hope this helps!

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