What is the perfect consultant timesheet?

Few consultants enjoy timesheet entry and administration tasks. They are experts in their field and their time is valuable. Their time is best spent in high value, customer-facing tasks that generate revenue – not writing expense reports or filling out timesheets – so every second that can be saved in time tracking is very valuable.

The perfect consultant timesheet, then, is one that provides businesses with everything they need and takes no time for consultants to complete. Is this even possible? The answer may surprise you.

20 Second Overview

  • Consultants are specialist in their field – their time is valuable
  • Consultant time is revenue generating – so accurate time tracking is important
  • Time spent time tracking takes time away from billable tasks – so timesheet speed is also important
  • Accuracy decreases with speed – this needs to be solved
  • Using data from other systems can save time and increase accuracy
  • Automation saves consultants several hours a month & increases productivity & billings by around 5%

Who is Timewatch?
Timewatch are specialists in timesheets, time tracking and time billing for consultants, and are unique in providing solutions configured to meet each customer’s specific needs. Think tailored, not off the peg, but without compromising the ability to upgrade to each new release.

Consultant timesheets, issues and challenges

Consultants need to be experts in their field, experts in relationship management, and be able to understand how organizations use marketing, sales, administration, and billing. Consultants need to meet multiple challenges in delivering services, managing their client relationship, and account for their time.

Consultants are rarely motivated by book keeping or administrative tasks, and in some cases consultants have concerns that time tracking is an employee monitoring tool rather than a billing tool.

Time tracking is such an important for every consultancy, it is important for managers to educate consultants as to the importance of time tracking, why time is tracked, and the need for accurate and timely billing. After all, customer revenue pays employee wages.

What makes the ideal consultant timesheet entry system?

A good consulting timesheet system should be simple and easy to use, and fast, as time is chargeable. A better timesheet would automate time tracking using technology such as AI, and integration with other systems that have data that can be used to automate timesheet entry. For example:

  • AI could analyze employee activity to suggest or create entries in consultant timesheets
  • If you use Outlook or Google to plan customer work, appointments could be used in their timesheet
  • If you use a resource scheduling system, bookings could be used in timesheets
  • If you use Teams, Zoom or Slack, meetings, calls and chat could be turned into timesheet entries

The typical timesheet solution

Timesheet systems haven’t really changed in decades. They still look like the paper and spreadsheet timesheets they replaced, but users still have to enter time manually. They are still very time-consuming and are entered in arrears.

Weekly timesheet

There really hasn’t been much progress over the years, but now there is a better, faster, more modern, and more natural way.

The calendar format timesheet – a more natural timesheet

Most consultants plan their work in their calendar, which, if you think about it, is the same data needed in a timesheet. Appointments have a date, a start and end time, a duration, and details of the work to be done. The only difference between an appointment and a timesheet entry is the customer/project the work is related to.

Calendars display a week’s work more clearly than a timesheet, with a few tweaks Outlook can be the perfect consultant timesheet.

By adding customer / project details to appointments, calendar entries can be used in timesheets and provide a much more intuitive timesheet format that is more in tune with how we visualize our working days.

Could Outlook or Google be used as a timesheet?

Most consultants ask us this, and the simple answer is yes!

Calendar appointments can be imported into Timewatch timesheet systems, but it doesn’t really save users much time as they still need to refer back to their calendar to decide whether to add the appointment to their timesheet, and which customer/project to assign it to. A better approach is to add the customer/project to the appointment in Outlook as it is simpler, easier and faster. Timewatch’s OutlookTime® supports both methods.

Calendar appointments could be imported into the timesheet. Although this works, it doesn’t actually save users time as they need to refer back to their calendar to decide whether to add the appointment to their timesheet, and which customer/project to assign it to. A better approach is to add the customer/project to the appointment in Outlook when the appointment is made as the consultant knows which customer/project it is for. This approach is simpler, easier and faster for consultants. Timewatch’s OutlookTime® supports both methods so the user can choose which is best for them.

OutlookTime® can be the perfect consultant timesheet

Timewatch’s OutlookTime® provides both a classic spreadsheet timesheet and a calendar timesheet that seamlessly links with Outlook.

It offers all the usual timesheet management tools, charge rate systems, billing and reporting, etc., but its key features are its advanced and automated timesheet entry options that save consultants hours each week.

Consultants could import their Outlook or Google appointments into their timesheets. This sounds good, but the consultant would have to look through each transaction one by one to work out if it should be added to their timesheet or not. If the item should be in the timesheet, they need to think back to which customer/project it was for and then add this to the appointment.  It is much faster to enter the customer/project as the appointment is created.

Consultants actually enter their timesheets as they create and edit appointments, saving all the time they normally spend entering timesheets.

Time tracking from Outlook

Without a doubt, our latest fourth-generation Outlook timesheet is consultants’ favorite way of working—allocating the customer/project to appointments inside Outlook as they create them.

With the Outlook timesheet plugin all users need only choose the customer / project, timesheet done.

Consultants say they actually complete their timesheets without thinking about it. They naturally allocate the customer/project to the appointment in Outlook, as it is easier and faster than typing these details into the Subject or notes.

Timewatch’s OutlookTime® plugin enhances Outlook by adding all important customer/project fields (or whatever you use) to Outlook appointments, turning Outlook into a timesheet entry system. The plugin also supports non-appointment timesheet time, and they can view timesheet completion and see which appointments are missing customer/project details.

Consultants can complete their timesheets within Outlook without ever having to log into or learn another system. It really is the perfect timesheet system for Outlook users.

Using Outlook (or Google) saves consultants hours every week as it uses data they’ve already entered into their calendars. It also means timesheets are more accurate as they are based on real data, they are available more quickly as there is less effort and less struggle to complete a timesheet, and administration time is dramatically decreased.

Also works with Teams.

If your organization uses Microsoft Teams (or Zoom) for customer or internal calls or meetings, these can also form part of a consultant’s timesheet. Consultants can quickly and easily add calls to their timesheets.

Timesheet security consultants can trust

Timesheets hold sensitive company information, including employee, customer, project, and potentially monetary data. It must be kept safe. Timewatch ticks all the vital security boxes:

  • Timewatch servers are ISO / SOC2 certified (most providers just have this)
  • Timewatch is ISO 9001 & ISO 270001 certified
  • Timewatch software is PEN Tested with an A+ rating
  • Timewatch offers public and private cloud as well as on-premises options
  • Timewatch provides comprehensive data resilience, failover, and backups
  • Timewatch offers customizable backup routines
  • Timewatch offers full database-level encryption
  • Timewatch mobile apps are secure web apps; no data is stored on any device

Timewatch systems are designed for scalability and flexibility. There are four standard editions of our Outlook timesheet, with varying levels of functionality, flexibility, scalability and price points. So no matter what your needs and budget, there is a solution for your needs today, and our systems can grow as you grow and adapt and change as your organization evolves.

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Want to learn more about how OutlookTime® is the best timesheet for consultants?

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