Learn how to get your attorneys to enter their time, on time, all of the time.
Ahhh, timekeeping policies. We all have them. We have them because they are effective at getting our attorneys to comply. Timekeeping policies are great.
If the above statement makes you cringe a little bit, because it isn’t completely true in your firm, don’t worry. You’re not alone. 90% of law firms struggle with time entry. Despite clear-cut policies that require attorneys to enter their time daily, weekly, monthly or whatever the case may be, time entries are submitted late and after a significant amount of teeth-pulling.
So, which type of firm are you? Are you the firm whose attorneys are not compliant and recreate their time forensically? Or, are you the firm that we all strive to be - the firm that keeps its time contemporaneously?
Most firms fall into the first category - which isn’t a good thing because with reconstructive time entry, comes less accuracy, less billable time being accounted for and a decrease in morale at the firm due to increased anxieties about time entry. In this post, we’ll explore why timekeeping policies don’t work and what you can do about it to achieve timekeeping nirvana in your firm.
Why Timekeeping Policies Don’t Work
It’s a policy, a hard and fast rule - so it should be easy to get timekeepers to follow it, right? Wrong. There are several reasons that time entry policies fail in a firm:
- They’re not practical. The minute that you leave your desk, you are mobile worker. Think about it. How often are your attorneys at their desk, versus in the car, in meetings or even walking around the office? Entering time as you go, from your desk, when you don’t perform most of your work at your desk doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
- Time entry is difficult, takes too much time. Bulky time entry systems, spreadsheets, timesheets combined with having to dig through emails, appointments and phone records to reconstruct time is tedious and time consuming. People put it off to the last minute. And, by last minute, we mean that they are entering their time beyond the deadline that you’ve established.
- Time entry isn’t habitual. When habits or routines are involved, things get done. When they aren’t, well, the opposite happens. It’s hard to make time entry a habit when it isn’t a natural part of the timekeeper’s day.
What is Timekeeping Nirvana?
At Bellefield, we do a lot of research around what we call the velocity of time at a firm. That is, the amount of time that it takes between the time that a task is completed and the time is entered. When you have achieved a time velocity of 0, which occurs when time is entered contemporaneously, consistently over time and across your firm, you’ve achieved timekeeping nirvana.
Why is this important? Our research indicates that when timekeepers record their time in the same day as the task is completed, there is 60% likelihood of recovering smaller tasks such as 0.10/hour (6 minutes) or 0.20/hour (12 minutes) that otherwise would have been lost. This accuracy decreases by 15% after one day and 25% after the second day. In this day and age, where we are on a constant treadmill, we are completing tasks in smaller and smaller increments, meaning that much of your time will be reported as a .10 or .20. Capturing it effectively can mean the difference between profit and loss at your firm and let’s do not forget “accuracy” which is what clients expect.
How to Achieve Timekeeping Nirvana
Timekeeping nirvana might sound like a lofty goal, but it’s actually very attainable for you and your firm. The key to achieving timekeeping nirvana is giving attorneys the right kind of solution that works for them anytime, anywhere. Choose a time entry app that:
- Is easy to install/integrate. Choose an option that will get you up and running immediately and play nicely with the other systems that you depend on in your firm.
- Attorneys will actually use. Don’t discount this one - the easier the app is to use, the more likely they are to use it, meaning the more compliant they will be. Choose something that is simple, intuitive and offers different options for time entry, like voice-to-text.
- Works on any device and your attorneys’ favorite browsers. You might have a BYOD policy or simply have attorneys who use multiple devices. You want to make sure everyone is covered, all of the time.
What is your biggest challenge to time entry compliance?