Published: Dec 14, 2016
Last Updated: Aug 30, 2018

Time tracking: it’s no secret that it’s the bane of agency life, but it’s a necessary evil. Accurately reporting how you spend your time provides your marketing agency with much-needed insights. These insights lead to decisions about balancing workloads, whether internal projects should be stalled in the interest of client work, and even whether the addition of personnel is justified. Also, without accurate timekeeping, it is nearly impossible for your B2B marketing agency to know if clients are being charged enough. 

B2B Clients on the Retainer Model

Time tracking helps the account director calibrate during the month, and periodic internal reporting may indicate that the agency is trending to exceed the client’s budget. B2B technology marketing agencies make a concerted effort to provide high-quality services to their clients while still operating within the budget of the client’s retainer. When it’s clear that services are likely to exceed the client’s budget, the account director may course correct to mitigate any need to send a supplemental bill to the client. In this way, the agency can properly resource-plan while also keeping clients happy by paying what is in their budget.

Hourly B2B Clients

In some instances, reporting time accurately and often has a direct impact on the agency’s bottom line. It is not the standard agency-client relationship model, but some clients are billed “actuals” based on the hours reported. If the client is invoiced prior to a team member’s hours being reported, your B2B technology agency will miss out on that revenue.

Best Practice: Report Often, Honestly, and Accurately

It is a best practice to log time on a daily basis (or, best case scenario: throughout the day). Your time sheets will be as accurate as possible, as you will find that at the end of the day you’ve reported meticulously, instead of trying to fill in the blanks retrospectively.

Those who report their time only once per week are at a serious risk of under-billing. If you have ever thought at the end of the week, “I know I worked more than 40 hours this week, but I just can’t remember on what,” the odds are that you reconstructed 35-40 hours for the week to meet an average or minimum hourly or billable requirement. This is why reporting time daily is so important.

Now, if you’re working only five hours a day on average, be honest about it! Your agency likely has percentage-billable expectations, or expectations for the amount of time you spend on client work. But rounding up or inflating time to meet a time minimum hurts you and the agency. Perhaps you’re incredibly efficient. If you can do well in five hours what it takes others seven to do, that would be good for your boss to know. That insight may well lead to you being given more to do, but you will be set apart from your peers. This is invaluable information for a six-month or annual review with your manager.

Staffing

While reconstructed data is more useful than none at all, that approach will not do you or your marketing agency any favors. Consider: if you worked a 60-hour work week, the argument could be made that you’ve just done the work of 1.5 people. But, if you could only retrospectively reconstruct 40 hours, it’s not a convincing statement that you need help. When it’s time to make a decision about the addition of personnel, time tracking is one of many deciding factors for a B2B marketing agency. If the current staff is “holding down the fort” at 35-40 hours a week per person, it’s reasonable to assume that an additional person would have very little to do.

If yours is a B2B technology marketing agency that “runs lean” and efficiently, that’s something your agency can be proud of. Likewise, something many agencies are striving for is a healthy work-life balance. Under-reporting time compromises that, which neither you nor your agency wants. Your agency should be properly staffed and workloads should be evenly distributed, but neither is achievable without accurate reports of how time is spent.
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Jess Cash
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