Two good reasons why time-tracking and billing for time is stupid
The article sums up nicely why billing by the hour and even time-tracking itself is backwards and should be completely eliminated.
For me, it boils down to two main points:
1. Why should seasoned, experienced, knowledgeable professionals get paid less than rookies? Think about it. A task that took you 20 hours to accomplish (most likely poorly at that) in your early years probably takes you a fraction of the time to accomplish (in a more polished way) as you build more experience through the years.
2. Why should a customer be forced to care about whether a junior or a senior person is doing the work and the time it takes for each? The only reason is because the time and billing method forces them to care. The junior person might take longer than the senior person but the billing rate for the junior is only 2/3rd of the senior person so I carry the one, multiply by x and …
STOP! The customer wants results – not math. Remember: people buy 3/4″ holes, not 3/4″ drill bits.
By perpetuating the time and billing dogma, the ultimate irony is that we create a world of inefficiency where people waste their time worrying about time. My recommendations:
- Focus on the stuff that really matters: end results, deliverables, time frames and, ultimately, value.
- Align the project goals with the customer’s goals – don’t sweat if you are over or under hours on individual task. Are you effectively making progress towards the end result?
- Discuss how effective you were in the end (not how efficient by micro-analyzing hours on a spreadsheet).
Please realize that I’m not talking about abdicating proper project management. In fact, this approach underlines the importance of proper project management – it just isn’t done by putting timesheets under a magnifying glass. We’ll cover that in a future article.
For now, give it some thought. I’ve given you two good reasons why time tracking and billing should be eliminated and there are all sorts of other reasons to explore but … I’ve run out of time.