Monday, November 05, 2018

The 8th Minute

Over on my YouTube Channel - - Stefan asked about putting time entries into tickets.

In particular, how do you keep up with super-quick notes without charging fifteen minutes (or some other number) every time a technician opens a ticket?

Here's the basic problem:

1) Some tasks are super-fast. You just need to reply to a quick email. You want that reply attached to the ticket. But it's literally one minute. So you don't want the employee's time card to be padded 14 minutes, or whatever you minimum is. And you don't want to bill the client for 15 minutes (or whatever your minimum is) every time you have a quick email.

2) Some ticketing systems want to track all your time in one minute increments. This is stupid and leads to more time spent adjusting time than actually tracking it.

3) You should have a minimum time increment you use. I use 15 minutes. I know companies that use 30 minutes and six minutes. You need to find a balance between fair and useful. And that fair is both fair to the clients and the employees.

4) Personally, I love using the ticketing system to track employee time. That way I can verify that there are no gaps and no overlaps. And I can pay off the time in the system.

Here's what we do.

First, I do want techs to put in a time entry for even the smallest important activity. But most of the time, it's a zero time entry. There's a different process in Connectwise, Autotask, and Solarwinds. But the end result is that you have a note that does not affect time on the job or the employee's time card.

Second, we bill in fifteen minute increments. So a technician might have time entries like this:

Minute 1 - 8:00 - 8:00 (one minute) - Client A - Responded to email from John - attached.

Minute 2 - 8:00 - 8:00 (four minutes) - Client B - Verified that troublesome machines are up and can access server.
Minute 3
Minute 4
Minute 5

Minute 6 - 8:00 - 8:15 (four minutes) - Client C - Talked to Lisa on the phone. Agreed on which printers to set up Thursday. Added notes below.
 - Note: This client will be billed 15 mins.
Minute 7
Minute 8
Minute 9

Minute 10 - 8:15 - 8:15 (one minute) - Client D - Forwarded email about licenses. - Attached.

Minute 11 - 8:15 - 8:15 (one minute) - Client E - Replied to Felicia with specs on SonicWall. - Email Attached.

Minute 12 - 8:15 - 8:15 (three minutes) - Client F - Per request from Michael, rebooted Workstation 201807.
Minute 13
Minute 14

Minute 15 - 8:15 - 8:15 (five minutes) - Internal admin - Cleaned up remaining email. Zero inbox
Minute 16
Minute 17
Minute 18
Minute 19

Minute 20 - 8:15 - 8:30 (five minutes) - Internal admin - Checked voicemail. Entered tickets as needed. VM Box Empty.
Minute 21
Minute 22
Minute 23
 - Note: This client will be billed 15 mins.
Minute 24

Minute 25 -  8:30 - 9:30 (one hour) - Client G - Finished laptop setup. Documented work. Ready for delivery. On client equipment shelf with printed ticket.
 - Note: This client will be billed 1 hour.

Here's what's going on. You enter actions that need to be reported, but you don't ding them 15 mins each. But the task that rolls over the 8th minute is charged for that 15 minute block.

Note that this is pretty random. Every client will have zero-time entries, but will have the benefit of the notes. Every once in a while, each client will experience a 15 minute billable (or charged to managed service) time entry. These are randomized among clients and no one ever complains.

Basically, whichever job you're working on the 8th minute, the 23rd minute, the 38th minute, and the 53rd minute is the one who gets the bill for that hour. In this way, the tech gets four 15-minute time entries and is paid for the full hour.

If this sound difficult, it's not. Just look at your watch. If it's 00-07 minutes, you round down and enter 8:00 (the hour) in your time. If that's true for both the beginning and end of the task, then the time entry is zero. If you watch reads 08-15 minutes, you round up. That's why it's all about the 8th minute. Again, if both the beginning and end of a task are rounded to 15, then you have a zero time entry.

- - - - -

I know this looks more complicated than it is. Believe me, after training dozens of technicians on this, it's real easy. Here's all technicians need to know:

1) Write down beginning time. Round up or down to the nearest quarter hour.

2) Write down ending time. Round up or down to the nearest quarter hour.

3) Total time = ending - beginning. It might be zero or it might be some increment of 15 minutes.

In the end, you will track all employee time in 15 minute increments and all client-facing time in either zero-time entries or 15 minute blocks.

Note: You can still have a thirty minute or sixty minute minimum bill to the client, if that's appropriate. But don't confuse that with accurate time keeping for technicians.

Questions welcome.


Still the best Quick-Start Guide to Managed Services: 

by Karl W. Palachuk 

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