How DeskTime’s invoicing feature makes day-to-day operations easier for small agencies/teams
“In order for small teams to realize their potential, be effective and provide valuable services, it’s very important to select the right solutions for workflow planning and management”, says Ivars Ščerbakovs – the owner of the SEO agency ToastIT. But that doesn't only apply to the productivity of employees. These tools are equally important to the company owners and management, who are responsible for all the administrative processes. “If only a few people in the company are responsible for planning the daily workflow, meeting clients, creating invoices, and preparing reports,, these tasks can take up a large portion of their working day. If you manage to find the most suitable solution for your team that smoothly moves all of these processes along, the sky really is the limit.”
When Ivars first started ToastIT more than 5 years ago, it was the work planning and the administrative side of running a business that proved to be the biggest challenge. His previous work experience in a highly corporate environment and the inclination to optimize processes characteristic for SEOs made it hard to figure out his workflow. After all, how do you transfer the best practices in workflow management of large companies with rich corporate tradition to a small, newly established company that still has so much to prove? Today it’s no longer a problem for Ivars because DeskTime helps him manage the administrative tasks of running a business, leaving him more time to concentrate on the most important things – his clients and the growth of his team.
Tracking work hours or automating invoices?
What should companies start with to make the internal processes more effective – implementing time tracking or automating invoices? Ivars thinks that the answer is both, definitely both. “The first thing to do before implementing any solution is to figure out your goal and what this action will achieve. This is true for a team of any size. Remote team management, especially in the current circumstances, is invaluable for the functioning of the company.
“Quick, convenient and simple solutions will not only save a considerable amount of time spent on administrative processes, but also keep the clients happy”.
The ToastIT team was already using DeskTime before the invoicing feature was implemented and it already made organizing the team's workflow as easy as it can be. But adding the invoicing feature allowed to fully automate all of the administrative processes – time tracking, absence calendar, and detailed productivity reports are now completed with automated invoicing.
How to bill your clients?
The topic of collecting payments always creates a headache for small and medium-sized teams. “On the one side, there’s the question of how to make estimates for your projects and how much your services actually cost. On the other side, there’s the responsibility you have to your clients – creating transparent invoices for your work. SEO is certainly not the only industry where invoicing isn’t the easiest task”, according to Ivars. The task of the service provider is to explain the work they've done in detail, however, if the services provided are intangible, creating reports can be quite time-consuming. Over the years using DeskTime to download reports and adding them to invoices has taught Ivars that the best way to create estimates for projects is billing by the hour, not by task:
“DeskTime gives you comprehensible insight into how much time each of the tasks really takes and how much it costs to reach the intended results”.
The key to selecting the right tool – functionality and price
“When you’re trying to find the best solution for managing your team, it’s easy to get caught in the vicious cycle of never-ending tools to try,” says Ivars. “You start by testing one tool and discover that it lacks some features. Then you continue to the next one only to realize you don’t like its user interface. In the end, you've tested 10 different tools and realized that none of them is suitable for you, which means that you've wasted time that could've been used for something more valuable.” His recommendation is to research the options, compare their features, and stick to the tool that provides the best balance between price and the features necessary for you. He elaborates on this further: “The tool must serve you, which means that it should be fast and easy to use and provide everything that you and your team need from it. In the case of my team, DeskTime is exactly that – with just a few clicks, it allows me to check which of my team members is less busy and can help me with urgent tasks. And, most importantly, creating invoices, which is something that used to take me a lot of time, is now easier than ever.
”I can just create the invoices based on the tracked project time and the system automatically sends it to the clients. The less manual actions, the fewer mistakes.”
DeskTime helps with communicating the costs to clients
“In our industry, there are often situations where the scope of the work turns out to be bigger than what was agreed upon at the beginning of the project”, Ivars reveals. In these cases, DeskTime helps his team manage the sensitive topic of the cost increase. Completing the tasks and billing the client based on the productive hours captured by DeskTime is an effective solution because it's not necessary to go through the lengthy process of confirming a task and its costs with the client, which can take as much time as the task itself. At the end of the month, the customer receives the overview of the project along with the invoice, which helps to understand the specifics of each completed task. “This provides transparency and lets us focus on productive actions that help clients reach the intended result.
“That, in turn, helps to avoid any misunderstandings and makes relations with clients more pleasant, as there is no need to bargain with them.”
The client gets a better understanding about the specifics of the provided services, because the report lists all of the tasks carried out at the end of each month”.