Top 3 Takeaways: Best Practices for Time Entry

April 21, 2020

Written by Joey Gawor. Read more from Joey about narrative hygiene by clicking here.

Fulcrum GT hosted a Meet the Experts Webinar focusing on the implementation of best practices for Time Entry. For any reader who missed the webinar, we are sharing the top 3 takeaways provided by our Time Entry experts.

1. Communicate the Importance of Time Entry Data

Whether it’s about reminding yourself or communicating with others, it’s critical that everyone at your firm understands the value of time entry data. Good time entry data creates a more accurate representation of the work done on a matter.   When firms manage time entry well it reduces WIP, accelerates the billing process, and increases transparency with clients which ultimately builds trust. Additionally, the morale of those working on matters increases because timekeepers stay on track to hit expected bonuses, and their hard work feels recognized. For management, forecasting for new matters utilizes trusted data making for more accurate models. To build a strong culture within your firm, consistently communicate these benefits of good time entry data. Firms who manage this well see improved client experiences, strengthened brands, and reductions in waste and frustration.

2. Establish Clear Time Entry Policy

Put a policy in place that guides those who enter time against matters. Be sure to go one step further and enforce that policy! There is no point in policy if, when put into practice, it does not get enforced. If people understand the importance of good time entry and have been trained on policies, timekeepers can confidently handle different time entry scenarios and ask for help when they know they need it. Useful policies should cover items like when and how timekeepers should enter time, what additional details or rules need to be considered for a matter, and what is allowed within narratives. Generally, policies should align with the goal of achieving good narrative hygiene. The point of narrative hygiene is to better convey the value of the work being done for the client. Active time entry should be encouraged and rewarded because it allows timekeepers to reduce the number of billable hours lost to forgetfulness while also increasing the specificity and value of narratives. Clients are scrutinizing timecard data more than ever before and clear policies can avoid the headaches of fixing time entries or engaging in billing disputes.

3. Use Technology to Benefit the Time Entry Process

With regard to time entry, the benefits of technology come in many different forms. For some users, technology means a mobile app for on-the-go time entry and narrative dictation. For others, the most helpful features may involve easy access to matter-specific templates as well as task and activity codes. Looking at benefitting users across departments, technology that flags errors in narratives in accordance with billing rules and time capture, which attempts to automatically track the tasks worked and build a daily timecard, might be the most worthwhile. When selecting technology to support time entry at your firm, be sure to weigh the wants and needs of the users and conduct a survey to see which features your users most value. Then, analyze the different technology options available and select the one that best supports the firm’s business model and billing process while also satisfying the needs of the end-users.

Following best practices for time entry is not a perfect or immediate process. Implementing new policy, procedures, or technology requires effort, consistency, and alignment, but by sticking to these core principals your firm will consistently innovate and improve the ways in which it handles time entry.

Keep an eye out for more webinars hosted by our experts. If you have a specific topic you would like us to cover leave us a message here.

Like this piece? Check out Neil Butten’s report Starting the Journey to Law Firm Best Practices for an additional look into assessing business processes and how they contribute to the client experience. 

Joey is a Communications Specialist at Fulcrum GT whose goal is to continually share the most valuable information about technology and processes for modern professional services operations.