Not Wasting Time with Time and Billing Software

Time is money for every CPA. Not utilizing your time and billing software to it’s full potential is a waste of that time. CPA Magazine approached creators of time and billing software to get their thoughts on how best to utilize your time and software.

Shafat Qazi CEO and Founder of BQE Software

Qazi ShafatWhat is an underutilized aspect of time and billing software?
Project management and the employee performance data that is obtained when time and expenses are tracked regularly are often not utilized by managers, principals and partners. In addition to that, the ability to assign tasks with allocated hours to employees—and have them track their time against them—helps keep project costs under budget. These functionalities are often underused.

How do you optimize time and billing software's use?
The key to optimizing the use of time and billing software is to reduce the usage friction between the user and the software. A mobile app is a perfect example of how users can capture their time and expenses quickly with just a few taps.

Adding artificial intelligence also cuts the time it takes to process invoices. Intelligent billing features prepare the invoices automatically on scheduled dates and submits them to the managers for their final review. This allows for the billing to happen quickly and obviously improve the cash flow.


Brett Owens CEO & Co-Founder of Chrometa

Owens BrettWhat is an underutilized aspect of time and billing software?
Making more money! Time and billing software must help drive earnings higher. It can do this by helping us find more billable time that otherwise would have been lost, by encouraging clients to pay electronically (and hence faster and more reliably) and showing how firms are spending time between profitable and money-losing activities. 

How do you optimize time and billing software's use?
It must be “optimized” around current business processes. This means you don't change how you work to fit software - you pick software that helps you automate what you already do. Think of it as if you were looking to hire someone. You don't hire a new person randomly and then create a job around their strengths; you hire for a job and that person does it. The same goes with time and billing software.


Fred Lindsley President of ImagineTime, Inc.

Lindsley FredWhat is an underutilized aspect of time and billing software?
Not reviewing managerial reports on a monthly or quarterly basis to analyze staff performance, as well as, pinpoint profitable and non-profitable clients.

Resistance to change. Some firms want their new software to work very much like the old. Backward compatibility with established practices has its place, but must be balanced with the adoption of new habits and ideas that improve efficiency and profitability using today’s technology. For example, it is more efficient for staff to enter their own time. Some firms continue to insist on centralized time keeping. It is gratifying to see these firms adopt and benefit from using new methods. Oftentimes these changes must be gradual in order to allow adoption.

How do you optimize time and billing software’s use?
Configure ribbon menus for the specific staff levels avoiding unnecessary choices and reducing the learning curve. Configure permissions to restrict staff access to sensitive information. For smaller firms, use of a basic simpler menu will be more quickly absorbed than a full practice management ribbon menu.

Best practices should encourage firms to begin implementation as soon as possible after purchase of the software and to achieve staff consensus before making the purchase. Delayed implementation often results in failed implementation. Interactive web-based training optimizes the software implementation process by ensuring that CPAs and accountants are made aware of the most effective and efficient methods to meet their specific firm requirements. The cost of a web based customized training session results in many benefits including reduced time in creating invoices, time recorded with more accuracy, and protection of sensitive information from being viewed by all the office. Extended support plans in the first year allow time to ensure that users establish best practices both during and after initial implementation.


Chris Vandersluis CEO of HMS Software

Vandersluis ChrisWhat is an underutilized aspect of time and billing software?
The most underutilized aspect of time and billing software is the integration with other aspects of the organization. People often select time and billing software to solve a very narrow challenge of getting invoices generated, but when other aspects of the organization are not involved this is likely to cause more than one timesheet to be selected. Time and billing will have one, HR will have another, payroll yet a third. Perhaps Finance needs tracking for R&D tax credits, and so on. Looking to see how the selection of time and billing software can integrate into other corporate processes before selection and deployment might be a huge benefit. 

How do you optimize time and billing software's use?
You can optimize your time and billing systems by making sure it’s multi-functional and flexible enough to manage the requirements of other aspects of the organization.


Thomas S. Dawson President TPS Software

Dawson ThomasWhat is an underutilized aspect of time and billing software?
Employee metrics in smaller firms, especially realization by employees. I believe because it requires extra effort to allocate markup/downs on billing processes.

How do you optimize time and billing software's use?
Keep the program open all day, so you can launch to the client’s folder, email from the program and monitor workflow. Running reports as needed!


Curt Finch CEO of Journyx

Finch CurtWhat is an underutilized aspect of time and billing software?
The highest ROI is when project time is measured. Automating payroll and billing is great, but understanding where you’re profitable or not is transformative. This can only come from understanding the cost of expensive labor and where it is being aimed. Imagine you have 100 expensive engineers working on hundreds of projects - some big, some small. You cannot guess, in any useful way, what project costs are. Your intuition will almost always be wrong. Our research shows that about 12% of these employees will be working on projects that have no hope of ever moving your company forward. Redirecting those people successfully will release over a million dollars per year in lost productivity, even more in revenue and profit. By comparison, the effort of tracking and monitoring the time data, while not small, is relatively modest.

How do you optimize time and billing software's use?
The most common problem we see is that systems are overcomplicated to the point that nobody can use it to enter accurate time. If you have 20,000 projects in a system, with no methodology for restricting access to these projects by role or department (or in some way), then the system will produce bad data. You have to design the system with usability in mind, as well as have an understanding of the most critical things you need to understand about your labor pool.