Time & Billing Evolution
- Written by T. Steel Rose, CPA, ACS Editor
Time and billing studies have found that merely tracking time always more than pays for itself in professional service firms. Smaller firms that choose to do without it always leave money on the table that should have been billed or acknowledged. This also leaves the firm completely without a budget to estimate any tax or CPA firm engagement for the subsequent year. It is especially problematic for succession planning and firm valuation. Not using a time and billing product that captures and applies all time and expense also circumvents the valuable markdown process where the CPA reduces the price so the client can see where the firm acknowledges concessions based on the expected outcome.
Even though early pioneer Timeslips still has a measurable user base, time and billing products have evolved into practice management and workflow management powerhouses. Beyond just capturing time and expense per staff member per client, the software reduces process bottlenecks to accelerate project completion while reducing duplication of work.
Time and billing products have evolved to also provide seamless integration for QuickBooks. The products were once designed more generically for professional services firms while the more powerful products are made specifically for the workflow needs of CPA firms. Newer CPA firm-designed products emphasize multiple timesheet templates and multiple billing rates as well as WIP (work in progress) billing and payments, which can be customized for each client. Expect a mobile app where you can modify timesheets, expenses, projects, and clients that integrate with phone, email features and a secure chat module for messaging between CPAs and clients.
Today’s expanded time and billing software will handle all the basics of practice management: time and expenses, project management and tracking, contact management and emailing, invoicing and billing, client AR, staff scheduling, document management, markdowns, analytics, deadline tracking, calendar scheduling, customer contact management and data sharing with Microsoft Outlook, Word and Excel. Current products also provide security access types based on the project, client or task level. Most support audit trails and review processes so your firm can establish DCAA-compliant timekeeping and invoicing for certain government assignments.
Publishing CPA Magazine since 2002, T. Steel Rose began his career with Price Waterhouse leading to the start of Rose & Cash, CPAs. He was a Vice President for Solomon Software.
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