Tracking Time

The Timesheet Workflow

  

Entering your time into the system is just the first step in your firm's workflow. Once entered, your firm may use your timesheet to generate payroll, create invoices, update budgets and more. Further, each step in your firm's workflow can have an effect on the time you originally entered.

Takeaways

There are two required steps for time. All time entered into the system must then be submitted before it can proceed to any other workflow.

Choose the workflows that work best for your firm. There are three primary "optional" workflows within the system: Review/Approval, Invoicing and Posting to your accounting system. Your firm can enable any combination of those options, depending on what best suits your needs.

BigTime's Basic Workflow

While it's easy to keep track of how much time you "entered" in a given week, the system must also keep track of how much time has been approved, rejected, posted and/or invoiced. In fact, there are up to nine possible status codes that can be applied to a single time entry as it moves through that workflow. This article will help you understand what each of those "status" codes means.

Entered vs. Submitted

For any timesheet in BigTime, there are two required steps: entry and submission.

All time begins as an entered value. When we talk about the initial value logged by the user, we typically refer to it as "input" time.

Note that a user can change these values throughout the week. They may, for example, correct the hours they log or even delete them altogether. While this is helpful for staff members, it makes invoicing and running payroll a challenge.

To combat this, BigTime implements a timesheet submission process, which requires each user to regularly submit their timesheet electronically. Once a time entry is submitted, it cannot be edited.

Before time can be posted or invoiced, it must be submitted. Since submitted time cannot be edited or deleted by the user, BigTime's billing and payroll screens are usually based on submitted time. 

Unapproved, Approved, or Rejected

If your firm has BigTime's approval workflow activated, then managers are allowed to review/approve time once it has been submitted. This process allows managers to look over submitted time, reject entries that need corrections, and approve correct entries.

This workflow ensures that hours are accurate and detailed, making payroll and billing easier down the road.

All submitted time starts out as unapproved by default. Any rejected time is routed back to the user to be adjusted (BigTime will notify the staffer that there are pending corrections). Typically, only approved time will make it to an invoice or into the payroll system. 

You can read more about Review and Approvals in later sections where we’ll show you the two main variations of this workflow and how to set them up.

Input vs. Billable/Billed

If you use the invoicing features in BigTime, then you are able to see if time has been included on an invoice or not. While all entries are considered input time, only time that is marked as billable will eventually be billed back to a client. Once billable time is actually included on an invoice, it is considered billed (or invoiced).

These labels are important, for example, when you consider the status of your project budgets. Project Managers may want to know how much time has been input vs. the budget. Billing Managers and/or partners, however, are also concerned with the budget vs. billable time ratios on a project.  BigTime supports both of these functions. And, it's just one example of where having the ability to distinguish between input and billable time is helpful.

Marking Time Up/Down

The distinction between input and billable time gets more complicated when time is marked down. Once time has been submitted, managers have the ability to change the billable portion of an entry.

Specifically, each time entry could have a different “hours” value, depending on the nature of the content that a given screen/report is attempting to show. For example, a 2 hour entry that gets marked as “non-billable” has an “input hours” value of 2, but a “billable hours” value of 0. 

This feature allows your team to write down hours, or bill for a portion of each hourly entry, in order to account for training time or other special factors. BigTime will always keep track of the entered amount of hours and show you the “billable” time that was actually applied during these adjustments. 

Unposted vs. Posted

If you have BigTime integrated with an accounting application, like QuickBooks, you can post BigTime's hours into that accounting system. Some firms do this in order to run payroll; other firms post time in order to invoice out of their accounting package.

If your firm posts time to your accounting package, then the input hourly total for a given period may be different than the hourly totals for that same period in your accounting package. However, the total posted hours will always match. Input hours are always equal to posted + unposted time. Note that we only post your input hours (billable values are stored only in BigTime).

Where to go from here

The articles below are great jumping-off points for each of the "stages" within the timesheet workflow. They will show you how to enter/submit time, how to review/approve it, how to invoice it, and finally how to post it.

 

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