Timesheet system helps leading media agency to bill with confidence

Global advertising agency’s adoption of an automated timesheet reminder improves billing accuracy and takes the pain out of time capture.

Agencies have always looked for ways to make the time capture process as painless as possible and BBH is no exception. That’s why, several years ago, they adopted timesheet system Tempora – initially in London and later across all offices.

Being web-based, Tempora is ideal for any environment where there’s a mix of PCs and macs. Tempora has also been designed from the ground up with creative work in mind, so the layout of clients, projects and jobs is intuitive to an agency.

Despite this, BBH still had one nagging problem – that age-old problem: getting people to submit their timesheets on time.

According to Sally Bennett, Acting Systems Director at the agency, “Some people managed to avoid doing their timesheets for weeks on end. They’d fill them out eventually,” she says, “but by then, most of what they entered was guesswork. That sort of defeats the point.”

So BBH turned to Tempora for a solution.

It didn’t take long for people to realise that a timesheet reminder like the Prompt actually saves them time. With work still fresh in their minds, timesheets can be filled out in seconds.

Sally Bennett, Acting Systems Director, BBH

From a gentle nudge to full on lock-out

Tempora suggested implementing their timesheet reminder, the Prompt.

The Prompt can be configured to give staff a gentle nudge, ‘nag’ on an increasingly insistent basis or, in extreme cases, lock people out of their macs or PCs until they’ve submitted their time.

As you might expect, there was some initial resistance to being locked out.

“We like to think we’re a creative organisation,” says Ms Bennett, “but there’s no getting away from the fact that some people inherently dislike change”.

Once users got into the habit of submitting timesheets every day however, the benefits really started to dawn on them.

“The feedback was actually very positive,” she continues, adding, “it didn’t take long for people to realise that a timesheet reminder like the Prompt actually saves them time. Instead of combing through files and diaries to remember what they were working on four or five days ago, users now only have to think back 12 hours or so. With work still fresh in their minds, timesheets can be filled out in seconds.”

Best of all, the information is now accurate – which means BBH can rely on genuine data when billing or negotiating fees with clients.

Rolling the timesheet reminder to other countries

So successful was the introduction of Tempora’s timesheet reminder in Kingly Street that BBH started to install it in other offices.

“It wasn’t a deliberate roll out,” says Systems Project Manager Joanna Smith, who helped with the system integration in Singapore and China, and provides remote support for the Prompt in New York.

“But as finance people in different countries started talking about how the Prompt was improving time capture, it started to snowball. That’s why Singapore were so keen to have it.”

In New York, the Prompt actually played a part in convincing the agency to switch over to Tempora.

They’d been using a different timesheet system all together, according to Ms Smith. It was only after speaking to the finance team in London and hearing about the Prompt that they too started using Tempora.

Making light work of group reporting obligations

Another reason BBH was keen to use Tempora in multiple jurisdictions was its ability to provide consistent reporting across the businesses.

As part of the Publicis group, there are certain reporting obligations that BBH now has to meet at a group level. One of these is to provide a break down of holiday accrual (to ensure the group has an accurate and up-to-date picture of its staff costs on a weekly basis).

The responsibility for doing this falls to Sian McHatton, Financial Systems Analyst at BBH. She explains how Tempora helps.

“I use Tempora as my sole database for everything I do,” she says.

“It’s not just time that it records. All our cost rates and holiday are also in Tempora, which means I can create these group reports with a simple export.”

Software should be easy to use

According to Ms McHatton, it’s the simple functionality that makes Tempora such a good system.

“It’s just easy to use and easy to navigate around,” she says, adding, “on the rare occasions when we have a problem or need a little additional functionality, Tempora’s technical team are really quick to fix or adapt a report.

“They just need to keep on doing what they’re doing,” she concludes.

You can read more about the Prompt here.

    • http://www.bartleboglehegarty.com/
    • Creative advertising agency
    • 1000 staff worldwide with offices in London, NYC, Sao Paolo, Singapore, Shanghai, Mumbai and Los Angeles
    • Clients including Audi, Diageo, Unilever, British Airways and Google

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