Time Gathering and Billing

Most businesses I service (including my own) essentially rent out the expertise of their employees.  You bill your customers by some mix of specific time, general costs, and reimbursements.  The legal industry’s “fees and costs” bills are a typical example.  Aside from the obvious disciplines of organization, consistency, and honesty required by your “time-keepers,” you as a business manager need to shape their data into a bill that your customer can agree is fair.  Having a system, both logically and electronically, is often the difference between red and black on your ledger.

There are three main roles in this system of converting tracked time into bills: the time-keeper, the billing clerk, and the account manager.




  • Do the work
  • Enter time accurately
  • Requests checks
  • Simple Entry
  • CYA Details
Billing Clerk
  • Organize billable items
  • Generate Prebills
  • Process Checks
  • Consistent entry
  • Timely submission
Account Manager
  • Process adjustments
  • Approve Final Bill
  • Organized
  • Analysis Reports of clients and time-keepers

Different variations of the above exist depending on how big the organization is.  The processes need to occur whether manually or ideally with the help of a database system specifically designed to handle it.  How  you divide the tasks may be equally determined by your process as well as the software limitations.  The ideal package not only conforms to your operations, but hopefully adds features that improve it.  Since your business may have multiple units that bill differently, your creativity in creating billing codes and tracking actual versus billed time will have a great impact on how any system can be fit to your organization.

Whether via paper, spreadsheets, or custom applications, some flow of the information needs to be mapped out and kept consistent across the roles outlined in the table above.  Also not to be missed is integration with your accounting system.  At this point, the market for these products is mature enough to come with and without their own accounting and CRM systems built-in.  Those aspects are beyond the scope of this article though.


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