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July 2015

A Case for Time Docketing – Does it Make Sense?

Tag Heuer Stopwatch

Tag Heuer Stopwatch

In business, relationships between the client and vendor are not only built on trust, but also transparency. Thus, when providing time-based services for a client, time docketing or recording is essential.  Time docketing isn’t perfect, but it is what it is to ensure proper client billing. The docketing system has been designed so that clients don’t take up too much time from the vendor and vice versa.

Which time docketing system is ideal? The two most common systems are the quarterly, 15 minute dockets and the 6 minute dockets more commonly seen in law firms. I’ve personally been in work situations where the docketing system has been in quarterly increments and in 6-minute increments, where ten of those equal an hour. Over time, I’ve realized that both systems are fallible. In the quarterly method for example, if one is looking at a client file, just to ensure that everything is operational, which is more accurate, the 15 minute system of 6 minute system? On the flip side, if every task is a 5-6 minute task and one doesn’t feel it’s worthwhile to docket each incident, won’t it eventually add up, leading to lots of lost revenue? And, if each 6 minute task is recorded, at what point is it considered micromanaging?

There is no clear answer as to which is better. The 6 minute system works for lawyers since they charge more per hour. At an average of $500/hour, every 6 minutes translates into another $50 dollars. Did you just think of a cool idea to win a court case while in the washroom? Bam! That’s another $50 right there.

One thing is certain: time docketing in any form is essential. I’ve also been in situations where there was no system at all (as it was based on trust) and clients took advantage of that trust. In one project there were “one last thing” changes that turned into 6 months of unbillable changes. This was a travesty that should never again happen as it can easily ruin a business relationship from growing.

So, whether you are telling a client you are keeping a docket or not, make a personal one so that, in the event that things get “out of hand” you can show the client what changes have been made in order to demonstrate that anything else constitutes going “above and beyond.” In this manner you might be able to save some otherwise-interesting business relationships, as well as ultimately save yourself.