How many times have you made a resolution to finally work on your time entry policy? It is discussed and agreed upon in the attorney retreat, and everyone is poised to make it work this time around. There is acknowledgement that there will be some penalties for the worst offenders, emails are going to be sent and therefore, it is expected for all attorneys to comply. Sound familiar? Almost inevitably, toward the middle or end of the year, the firm realizes that the policy is not working as expected and everyone moves on to other issues.
Although 98% of firms have some sort of time entry policy in place, today’s firms still struggle with enforcing the policy and ensuring compliance. For this reason, time entry policies tend to be a source of dread and long, exaggerated sighs among timekeepers and administrators alike.
Time entry policies, when created and deployed effectively can actually make life easier for all involved. In fact, if you consider the true intent of a time entry policy, it is to drive behavior based on positive timekeeping habits to maximize revenue and accuracy. Sounds great, right?
Despite having a policy as well as making contemporaneous time entry a priority, firms are still failing at managing their time entry policy. What seems to be the problem?
Well, there are a few:
#1: Managing compliance with the time entry policy is so resource intensive that it is virtually unmanageable for firms and their administrative staff.
#2: Manual processes are compromising accuracy and efficiency.
#3: Due to the nature of the work required to manage the policy, there is an inherent lack of transparency in terms of the drivers of timekeeping performance for both the administrator and the timekeeper.
The good news is that there is now a solution to this challenge, which has been experienced for decades within the legal industry. The formula for success in time entry policy management = the right policy + the right tool. With a sound timekeeping policy and the technology to manage it, your firm’s goals will be measurable and achievable.
Must-Haves for your Firm’s Time Entry Policy
#1: Where it is
In order for a policy to be followed, all employees (administrators and timekeepers alike) need to be able to access the policy easily. For many firms, the time entry policy is buried within lengthy employee handbooks or forwarded from a several-year-old email that was written by a partner. Here are a few best practices to follow instead:
- Make your policy accessible. Put it on your firm’s Intranet and store it with other online documents routinely accessed by attorneys.
- Reinforce your policy. Post your policy in common areas, such as an employee break room, as a reminder of expectations and metrics surrounding time entry performance.
#2: What it says
In addition to the importance of accessibility, having a well-written policy, based on your firm’s goals is of utmost importance. Keep your timekeeping policy short and sweet. The document should be 1 page (2 pages max) and written in clear, easy-to-understand language. Your policy should address the following items:
- Velocity goal (how quickly time should be entered after task completion).
- Minimum and maximum hours billed per month.
- Grace days beyond the billing period’s end.
- Penalties and rewards based on compliance and non-compliance.
#3: How it is enforced
Simply having a great time entry policy in place is not enough - you have to have a way to manage it. The manual processes that have been in place for decades are not enough to address compliance with your policy. Implement a policy management system as part of your mobile timekeeping solution to automate compliance and measure timekeeping against your firm’s goals in real time. Learn more about how our new automated solution can help your firm.How is your firm’s time entry performance doing in regards to complying with your time entry policy? Share your experience in the comments section below.