Mid-year Houskeeping

Well 2015 is flying by!   It’s hard to believe it’s time to do mid-year business housekeeping. We always find the middle of the year is a good time to review time off and time off policies with everyone.   It’s a good time for folks to look at how much vacation they have already taken. Everyone should be clear on company vacation policies – if there are rollover hours, caps on rollovers, if vacation allotments will change in 2016 and so on. With that information we can all then think through our plans for the second half of the year, especially during the holidays. At Referential we need to ensure coverage for our clients every business day of the year and it’s not too soon to discuss who wants to take time off at the end of the year.

Let’s not forget taxes. Your business income and expenses for the first half of the year can provide valuable guidance to you on what to expect for the rest of the year – depending on how seasonality effects your finances. This is probably a good time for all of us to check in with our accountant/tax preparer to see if there are any actions to take now to lower the year’s tax bill, both for the business and personally!

We have mid-year forms to file for our 401K, need to finalize the 2016 holiday schedule, we want to decide on holiday gifts for our clients to avoid a rush at year end, and we will plan for the many annual expenses we see in December and January. What else is on your mid-year checklist?

Time Tracking Apps - Which to Use?

When you’re in consulting you need to track your hours and when you have an ever growing team there are a lot of hours to consolidate!   We’re all involved with more than one client and each client has more than one of us assigned.  It’s important we have backups trained so we can handle everything from vacations to special projects requiring extra hours.   That adds to the complexity of tracking our time as we’re tracking individuals as well as consolidated numbers for our clients.   We don’t need to tie into invoicing or payroll; we have solutions for those that work quite well.  Most of the offerings we’ve seen for time tracking are actually overkill for our needs, but we’ve decided to do trials with a couple of packages to see how they work. Research narrowed our list, we’re using the first this week.   Lesson number one – don’t hit submit each time you log any bit of time.  Time sheets for a single hour to single day went flying in and we learned to save, and then we’ll submit on Friday. Terminology for every app differs!  It will be interesting how the team compares the apps on our short list.  That will be a huge part of our decision making.

This will speed up tracking and reporting plus give us the flexibility to tie hours to major projects and processes, not to just the client, in a more flexible manner than before.  It also automates all the consolidation which is our major goal.   We’ll have more lessons learned to share as we get further into testing.