Billing and Invoicing with Tempo Timesheets

Many businesses rely on sending invoices to their customers as their primary way of collecting revenue. Through many interactions with our customers, we’ve heard enough horror stories to reinforce the idea that billing and invoicing should not be taken lightly. We’ve been on a mission to help Jira users reduce the amount of phone calls from angry customers that just received their bill, and decrease sleepless nights from users trying to crunch numbers for their invoices.

As an example, let’s take one of our clients, who we will call George, a project manager at a web development firm who leads a small team for the UX development side of the business. Let’s look at the way we helped him set-up his instance for a new customer to leverage the billing and invoicing functions in Tempo Timesheets for Server – a time-tracking App for Jira found on the Atlassian Marketplace.

His web development firm, which has been a contracting group in business for numerous years, is no stranger to invoicing. Prior to using Tempo, George was using a collection of spreadsheets to cross-tabulate the time tracked by his team on a certain issue with other spreadsheets that contained issues for certain projects and their customers. However, not only was this method extremely labor-intensive and prone to human error, it was also not the most accurate or the most transparent. As a result, George found himself faced with complaints from clients who were astonished by the bills they received.  

After reaching out and consulting Atlas Authority, George discovered a seamless and unambiguous way to bill his clients, which reduced the complaints received to nearly none.

Step 1: Creating the Customer Account

Because George wanted to be as transparent as possible with his clients when he invoiced them, he was trying to identify the hours spent by his team that were billable and non-billable. Before consulting Atlas Authority, George and co. signed a contract for a project with a client who for the sake of this blog we will call Acme Corporation to design a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for an app with specific requests to the customer’s journey.

The first step we took in helping George be able to track time for invoicing purposes was to create a customer account. Atlas Authority went through this process because an account in Tempo tracks time across multiple teams and multiple projects in Tempo timesheets. As a result, if George’s customer went forward with the MVP or asked for additional projects, these new projects would be easier to organize and to report.

The Accounts page can be found in the Tempo submenu either on the top of the page, or the left side of the page. After arriving to it, the customers tab can be found in the upper right corner of the screen. This tab is where the new customer is created. In this scenario, the name is Acme Corporation and the Key acts as a nickname that must be unique – the key cannot be changed.

Step 2: Creating Account Categories & Accounts

For this new project, Atlas Authority needed to help George create new account categories. Categories relate to the type of work that will be done and are used to determine whether the nature of the work is billable or non-billable, which helps organize tasks and issues in the reporting phase (step 4). In this case, we created “RND”, for Research and Development, which is billable because it includes the hours of consultancy work that George and his team completed for Acme Corp.

The second account category we created for George’s new project is “TRN”, for Training. Training was set to internal as it will be used for non-billable work such as the hours of training to learn about Acme Corporation’s products.

To create new account categories, the user could find the right page in the settings page (found either under the Tempo submenu at the top of the page or the cog icon found on the left side of the page). The key acts as a nickname that must be unique – In this case RND and TRN were added as billable and non-billable work.

After Atlas Authority’s team configured the account categories, we went back to the account page (same as step 1) where we created the account for billable and non-billable work for George. This was again used for the reporting phase (step 4) to more easily filter the data. When George creates a new account for billable time, he’ll enters the information as follows:

A billable and non-billable account for Acme Corp. is created in the account page. This is found either from the Tempo submenu (top of the page) or the account icon found on the left side of the screen. From there a user with the right permissions (not talked about in this blog) can create an account using the information desired. It should be noted that one customer can have multiple accounts assigned to them.

  • Name + Key: Refer to the name and nickname for the account ( ACM Billable + ACMBILL)
  • Lead: Person responsible for the account (George)
  • Category: the account category this falls under (Research and Development)
  • Customer: name of the customer (Acme Corporation)
  • Contact: the person who represents the company (Stella)
  • Projects: Collects any issues where the logged time is billable (Tango OnDemand, Web Development Projects)

 

Following the same steps, the Atlas Authority team created an account for non-billables for Acme Corp as follows:

A good practice is to make sure that the name has no hyphens (“-”) in them.

  • Name + Key: ACM Nonbillable + ACMNONBILL
  • Lead: George
  • Category: Training (the non-billable category George created earlier)
  • Customer: Acme Corp.
  • Contact: Stella
  • Projects: Tango OnDemand, Web Development Projects.

With the accounts and the accounts categories set-up, George and co. could now link the projects to the issues and log in billable work!

Please note that in this case, the permissions were set so that anyone could set the amount of billable hours. It should be noted that this might not always be the preferred methodology – this varies from one company to another.  There are also different ways to set things up, such as using worklog attributes (not covered in this blog).

Step 3: Tracking Time in an Accurate Matter

After Atlas Authority set everything up to track the amount of billable and non-billable hours, George & co. were ready to capture the time spent by his team and himself on tasks, issues, and projects. To help the team adopt the practice of logging time, Atlas Authority recommended George’s team take advantage of these two Timesheets features that offer simple and convenient ways of tracking time. These two methods are far from being the only way a user can log time, but in the case of George & co. they were their personal favorites.

Atlas Authority initially recommended using the real-time tracker (found in the Tempo’s submenu) as a way to track issues. By using this tracker functionality, George’s team was able to quickly log their time once they were done working on their task/issue. This is our suggested go-to method, since it’s flexible and works with everyone’s busy schedule – which is filled with all sorts of interruptions (ie: meetings, breaks, calls, etc.). George found using the real-time tracker was a simple way to get into the habit of tracking time.

The real-time Tracker found in the Tempo Submenu can be used anywhere in Jira. When the Tracker button is pressed, the timer will appear on the bottom right corner of the screen. It then becomes easy to start, pause, or stop tracking time. In case the timer is stopped, the worklog will appear with the time already filled in.

Another great way that the team likes to log time is via the assigned hotkey (W) that is bound to the worklog window. Using this method is very practical as the hotkey will work anywhere within Jira. Some team members from George’s team are now exclusively using this method because it enables them to quickly log time after having checked their subtasks to see if they have accomplished their work for the day. Joel, a developer in the team, finds this method extremely convenient in days where he has very few interruptions or when he has to frequently switch between projects/issues.

Either method is effective and in the end we always recommend these two to begin your time tracking journey with Tempo.

Step 4: Using Custom Reports to Identify Billable vs. Non-billable Time

After a certain period of time, the team ends up having completed the project. Because of the way Atlas Authority helped George set-up the accounts and the accounts categories, George could now quickly see the breakdown of total time spent on the project, the amount that was billable vs. non-billable and where the time was spent.

As seen in the image below, the team spent 306h on the projects, but only 250h were billable. This could be due to times where the tasks worked on were not deemed billable. For instance, if Joel, a developer in the team, spent 4 hours on HR training, that time could be deemed not worthy of being billable. As a result, the time in billable is not equal to the total time.

Something to note is that, the time is updated in real-time so during the time they were working on the project, if someone was logging some more time, it would be updated in the report. This also implies that George can be more transparent with the progress of his team, both internally and with clients, to lessen the surprise of his client at the end.

The amount of time spent on a project can be found via the Report button found in the Tempo submenu (top of page) or with the icon on the left side of the page. After choosing the option to create a custom report, a user can filter by customers (in this case, Acme Corporation) and group by Accounts (Billable, Non-Billable) and issues. The amount of time that is billable is added from the grid view (upper right). In addition, a user can save the custom report to come back and not have to go through those steps again.

Conclusion: Set Up in Less Than 5 Steps

We’ve shown one way to set-up, track, and report billable & non-billable time in less than 5 steps. Not only does this method provide added transparency, accuracy, and up-to-date data for billing and invoicing, it also makes the process much simpler than the method George was previously using.  This is Atlas Authority’s go-to method when consulting clients who are interested in tracking time through Jira.

There are numerous other ways to optimize Tempo Timesheets to better fit your company’s needs for invoicing and billables. If you’d like more information you can contact us for a demo, or for help configuring an existing deployment of Tempo Timesheets.

About Tempo Timesheets

Beyond the use case we have outlined above, Tempo Timesheets is a time-tracking and reporting solution that seamlessly integrates with JIRA to help teams and managers track time for accounting, payroll, client billing, compliance, enhanced efficiency, and forecasting.

Some of their core features include:

› Painless time tracking. Timesheets offers a better overview of work time for billing, measuring costs, internal time, and work performed.

› Flexible reporting. Drill down on estimated versus actual time spent on JIRA issues, billable time, and more.

› Cost center management. Gain better visibility of all activities and work performed for customers, internal projects, and development.

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