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What to Include on Time Sheets, and What Not To

What to Include on Time Sheets, and What Not To

What to Include on Time Sheets, and What Not To

(OP)
Where I work, the arrival of 2016 has brought with it new rules for filling timesheets. Previously, I would enter time on any project to the work order, and if I was in some kind of staff meeting or training session, that would go in the "Other" slushpile slot. Work was easy to track since I just had to put in 8 hours of time on the project in any given day. I wouldn't bill time to a job when I was having lunch or chatting with co-workers. Now, the new rules require us to put some kind of break-time on our time sheets. It still goes in the "Other" slushpile, but now my 8-hour day must include that time in the total. If I enter 0.5 hour of break, then I put 7.5 hours to the job.

This seems ridiculous to me. If I don't change my actual working habits, then I will actually have more than 1 hour of this "break" time to put on my timesheet, making my chargeable time just 7 hours, and the remaining hour I continue to work will count as overtime! I don't mind being paid overtime for doing what I normally did in a regular day, but I cannot imagine how the company can justify accounting for time this way. Feels like a shell game to me - I can't quite put my finger on it.

If I put myself in the customer's shoes, wouldn't I think that the company is reducing its employee's hours, and letting schedules slip?

Does anybody else account for time this way? Does it ever make sense to record break time?

I get the creepy feeling that there's another shoe going to drop...

STF

RE: What to Include on Time Sheets, and What Not To

I suspect that your company is concerned about the fact that legally, if you you're a non-exempt employee (not in some supervisory or management role) that you are getting your legally earned breaks. We were sued a few years ago because a couple of employees claimed that they were not allowed to take their legally deserved breaks. It was only their word against management that they did or did not get their breaks. I'm not sure whether they changed their time sheets or not since I don't fill them out being salaried. The only thing I have to do is report the number of hours that I spend testing our software and consulting on new functionality with developers (I don't do any actual coding) since that time is included in the development effort as we capitalize our development costs. My reported hours don't really go to payroll.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Digital Factory
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: What to Include on Time Sheets, and What Not To

Tracking breaks on timesheets is for documenting compliance with labor law. Your productivity has not changed as a result. The overhead charges added to your hours will be adjusted accordingly, so projects will still be charged the same for the same amount of work (not hours). By having you put your break time on the timesheet, the company is having you sign-off that you have recieved your legally required breaks. Now if you work through your breaks, it is your problem and not the company's, with regard to labor law enforcement.

RE: What to Include on Time Sheets, and What Not To

(OP)

Quote (JohnRBaker)

My reported hours don't really go to payroll.

Currently, my timesheet hours don't go to payroll, either, except for overtime I clock in. I'm supposed to be salaried, too. That's another reason that this is getting strange: Why account for every minute of my day if I'm salaried? Or am I not salaried any more? My original question was long enough so I didn't mention it, but 6 months ago, all employees are expected to "punch-in" with an electronic swipe card. And not just designers like me; so does my supervisor, and I think even the director of the engineering department does, too. All of these changes make me and my co-workers feel like we're all going to be paid hourly soon.

STF

RE: What to Include on Time Sheets, and What Not To

Is the work that you do 'billable'? That is, is someone getting invoiced for the hours that you're actually working on a job, not just your 40 hours per week, like a lawyer billing hours to a client? If so, that could be why you're having to keep detailed records. Years ago, when I first started to work for McDonnell Douglas, since so much of their work was being done on federal contracts we had to keep really good records of where we were spending our hours, even if we were simply doing something for another department. Everyone and every project had a 'cost center' number that we had to record on our time sheets so that our productive hours were all charged to someone or something. Granted, we had categories for staff meetings, training class, travel, etc. but everything else had to be assigned to a 'cost center'.

In 1991 our division was acquired by EDS and the first thing we learned was that when Ross Perot set up the company he wasn't going to have any bean-counters sitting around figuring out which nickle had to come out of whose pocket and which pocket they would eventually supposed to end up in. We had no time sheets and while there were still 'cost centers' no one ever moved money from one to the other just because you did some work for someone. Those 'cost centers' were just for keeping track of what was budgeted to you in terms of expenses and direct costs. Heck, EDS didn't even have a personal department. Every admin handled whatever HR tasks needed to be done for their people, again because Perot felt that was a waste of time to have a separate group of people to do that> They didn't even keep track of vacation or sick days taken. Yes, your admin kept track, but the figures never left her/his desk and while you did have to request vacation time, it was nothing more than a formality since it was really between you and your boss as to what you hours were and when you could take time off. It was his responsibility to make sure everyone was accomplishing what they were getting paid to do. If everything was getting done on time, things were pretty flexible. Granted, if someone higher up felt that the privilege was being abused someone would get the message eventually. EDS was a strange place to work sometimes with the lack of rules experienced elsewhere. But then we had some odd rules of our own, like a very formal dress code. Men has to wear suits, not sport coats, but dark suit coats with pants that match, and button-down collar WHITE shirts and shoes with laces (no loafers allowed). Foe women, it dresses or fitted suit which were preferred but a nice conservative skirt and blouse would work (but NO pantsuits or slacks).

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Digital Factory
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: What to Include on Time Sheets, and What Not To

SparWeb....you are apparently in an industry where your time is not billed to clients.....it becomes part of an overally pricing scheme for whatever goods or services you provide. I've been in consulting for almost all of my career so production of income to the company or the individual comes from the time recorded on timesheets. Over the years as corporate structures have become more controlled by legal and accounting entities within a corporation, such practices as you describe have become commonplace.

The farther removed the bean counters are from the product, the more obtuse the requirements become. Everyone who makes such decisions should be required to work in that environment so that they see the issues they create.......but then there's the approach used by one of my former supervisors......"I don't want to know how it's done, 'cause then I might not want to tell you to do it"!!lol

RE: What to Include on Time Sheets, and What Not To

(OP)
You are both probably right. For the last few years, my projects have been fixed-price, negotiated in advance. Accounting for my time has become a matter of showing that I was on budget or not. It feels a lot more like accounting with the whip, rather than my supervisor with a carrot.
To add injury to insult, this week I begin printing my time sheet - on paper - to sign, scan, and then e-mail back to my supervisor. Every week, I will fill out a paper timesheet. In addition to the electronic database. In the 21st century.

STF

RE: What to Include on Time Sheets, and What Not To

I typically am working on at least a dozen different jobs a week, billing from hourly to lumps sum. I track my time per job, per rough task (CA, SD, DD, CD, etc), and i also have a category for internal meetings, marketing, training, and other non-billable categories. I have to work 8 hours a day and then have a certain utilization percentage per week (similar to 35/40 hours must be billable).

I think this isn't too uncommon for us in the consulting world who have many jobs at a given time.

Keeping track of the non-billable time is not only good for the reasons stated above, but at my company we would be able to see who spends half their time chatting vs producing without hurting the job multiplier (assuming they are honest)

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