Happy New Year everyone! This time of year is an awesome time to review the previous year and make plans for the upcoming one.
Many of us charge clients by the hour regardless if we tell them that or not. In a fixed bid project we estimate how long it will take to do the various parts of the project and then give the client a value based on those hourly estimates.
Reliable and accurate estimates are just the first step in making your business profitable. The final step is going back and seeing if you estimated properly. The only way to do this is to track your time on a project by project basis.
There are variety of tools available for doing this, but Task Timer, one of our products, is a very simple and inexpensive ($24.95) way of doing this. Task Timer is designed to be simple and easy to use. It’s as simple as pressing a button!
Setting up Task Timer isn’t much harder. Add your project, add the major tasks you want to track, and add your initial estimates and start using it. The new built-in estimate graphing gives you a minute by minute graphical view into how you’re estimate is tracking in comparison to your actual time spent.
For many of our consulting clients we give them a discount rate when they pre-purchase a block of hours (usually 40 hours). Task Timer’s new estimates feature makes tracking the hours used really easy. When the client purchases a new block of hours simply create a new task for the project and put the block of hours into the estimate field. Task Timer is now tracking your bulk hours used for the client!
Many people who have purchased Task Timer have told us that it pays for itself in the first week! We can’t verify their claims but we can say that when we created Task Timer and started implementing it for all of our projects we found that our billable hours rose over 15%. It seems we were not very accurate reporting how much we worked on any particular project at the end of the day. If we reported (really guestimated) our hours at the end of the week the numbers were even worse!
For additional information about Task Timer, please see this link: http://www.bkeeney.com/products/tasktimer4
Mac OS X: http://www.bkeeney.com/downloads/macintoshdownloads/download/36-tasktimer
Tracking your time is a good reality check. Were those products you were spending so much time on really worth it? How much time are your blogging? What about video production for those training videos? For that big size month project what did you get right (and more importantly wrong) in your estimates?
Plan on getting a handle on your estimating skills in 2010. Task Timer is just one of the tools you can use.