You’re a small company but not small enough to handle everything yourself. So you hire a contractor or two who works from home in some remote part of the country. It’s a nearly ideal situation. They do good work and get it in on time. But the hours. The hours they report just don’t seem to add up.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can feel confident that you owe your contractors what they say you owe them simply by tracking the hours your contractors spend on their assignments.
Why a Tracking System Works
Let’s face it, unless you work shoulder to shoulder with your contractors, you can never really be sure they’re working when they say they are. There is always a chance that one of your contractors reports his time inaccurately, but by setting up rules and giving contractors access to a formal time tracking system, your chances of getting ripped off are much reduced. A tracking system specifically designed to track time on projects can help to:
- Eliminate guesstimating – Punching in and out keeps contractors from having to guess their hours. A web designer, for example, can guesstamate that it took 7 hours to design a website, but it may have really only taken him 5 or 6 hours. By requiring that contractors actually clock in when they are working, they will add up (and bill) real working hours.
- Eliminate estimating hours based on the desired paycheck – When contractors are forced to guess their hours, they will usually throw out a number based on what they want their paycheck to look like. Once you’ve got them on a time tracking system, they just won’t bill you till they hit that magic number. The paychecks may end up being the same size, but the frequency might change and the amount of work actually done will definitely change.
- Provide work-time visibility – Recording work notes with every clock punch provides the employer with the actual breakdown of duties during that shift or segment of working time.
- Form better habits – Being organized is good for the contractors, too. Most people don’t want to lie and don’t want to rip people off but they may not have the tools to bill accurately.
- Save time and prevent innacuracies - Tracking time on paper or on spreadsheets leaves a lot of room for error and is a lot more time consuming than it is worth. A system designed for this purpose makes it easy to assign time to projects and calculate bill and pay rates.
How to Keep Track of Time on Assignments
- Use an online system - As I said, using paper or spreadsheets isn’t a great way to keep track of time. Having to write or type out project names, customer names, and hours is time consuming. And when you add up hours by hand, calculation errors are common. A software system which can be accessed from anywhere and on any device is easy and accurate. A system like Timesheets.com offers contractors a quick place to enter time and notes. Projects and customers can be easily set up in advance and hours can be added against them by contractors or by admins.
- Set up the system for employees - If you use the same contractors regularly, it is probably best to set up the system for your company and offer contractors a user name and password they can use to log in and track time. Sending them off to find a system of their own and requiring that they provide invoices with a breakdown of hours could result in the same habit of guesstimating hours and reporting innacurate time. Plus, your own timeclock system will give you the opportunity to see in real time your contractors’ progress on projects.
With the new system in place you will either start to notice a difference in the amount of money and frequency that you owe your contractors and if not – if your contractors were reporting accurately to begin with – you will finally feel comfortable that what they say you owe them is really what you owe them.