for ConnectWise

How do I MAKE my engineers report their time?

Last time, we looked at MSP clients that might be “at risk” due to lack of attention. This time, we’d like to focus on:

How do I MAKE my engineers report their time?

My MSP clients pay me the same “flat fee” every month,
so why does it matter if my engineers report their time?

Let’s deal with the “Why does it matter?” question first:

Managed Service clients pay you a flat fee at the beginning of each month and expect you to “make their technology work” throughout the month to help support their business. Most MSP contracts are structured such that there “is no limit” to the number of hours your engineering team could spend on any given client. So you are not “being paid by the hour”, so why do your engineers still need to record their time? So when that new engineer comes into your office, whining about the hassle of recording time, remember these “talking points”:

  • Revenue (what you charge the customer) is CAPPED.
  • Expenses (i.e. “hours”) are UNLIMITED.
Your ability to PAY anyone and stay in business
is DIRECTLY RELATED to your ability to
keep “expenses” less than “revenue”.

If the “hours spent” are out of control, then you may not be able to service your existing clients, and they may leave (resulting in a drop in revenue). And if you happen to have a profit sharing plan for your engineers, helping them understand that by managing the hours and becoming more efficient, your PROFITS will increase, may help get their attention. (I have seen this first-hand in my time as an MSP COO). So the only way to “manage” the hours (i.e. expenses) is to TRACK the hours, and that REQUIRES that they report their hours.

How do I MAKE my engineers report their time?

  • SEE (“Significant Emotional Experience”)  You can scream, yell, berate and otherwise cause a “significant emotional experience” for the engineer hesitant to report time.  Also, firing the worst offender in a relatively “public way” tends to work, at least for a while.  Eventually you’ll get tired of screaming, they’ll forget about the firings, or you’ll run out of engineers to fire.
  • CARROT (“Profit Sharing”) At the MSP where I was COO we instituted a “Profit Sharing” plan several years ago.  We spent time explaining to the team how greater efficiency led to greater profits, and greater profits led to additional dollars in their pocket.  The president of the MSP delivered that message directly to the group several times throughout the year.  This showed the team that the message was important, and that we were committed to making it happen.  This is truly a win-win for all involved and I would highly encourage you to consider it.  The downside is that it is not something that you can typically create and communicate quickly, and YOU must be committed to following up throughout the year (and making the payout to your team).
  • PEER PRESSURE Perhaps the easiest, fastest way to make engineers report their time is to simply OPENLY POST if they have recorded their time so that THEY can see it (and be reminded that they need to do it), and their PEERS can also see if they have reported their time (and can REMIND their peers to do it).

Helping your engineering team understand the IMPORTANCE of managing how their hours are spent is critical to making your MSP Practice more efficient, which leads to making it more profitable.

THE NEW HAVEN APPROACH
At New Haven we provide a “dashboard” which you can put up on a big screen in your engineering area that shows how many hours each of your engineers have reported.  The dashboard updates every 60 seconds, so if an engineer “forgot”, they can quickly enter their time and see the results on the dashboard in one minute.   Here’s a screenshot:

A few notes of explanation:

  •  RED  Hours marked in RED indicate that the engineer has not reported the required number of hours for the time period, and they are NOT even within 20% of recording the required hours.
  •  YELLOW   Hours marked in YELLOW indicate that the engineer has not reported the required number of hours for the time period, but they ARE within 20% of recording the required hours.
  • TODAY Hours for today are reported WITHOUT any color-coding, since most MSPs don’t REQUIRE engineers to put their time in more frequently than every few hours throughout the day.
  • DRILL-DOWN All entries are hyper-linked to allow “drill-down” to show the actual time entries for the time period (today, yesterday, last 7 days, last 28 days)

We also provide that information in a SmartPhone report so that your engineers can check what’s going on, even when they are NOT in the office.  Here’s a screenshot of the SmartPhone menu and the report:

At New Haven Technologies, we provide access to information so that you can make data-driven, informed decisions about your MSP business.  Our service is provided on a month-to-month basis, and starts with a free two-week trial on your network with your data.  We also include customized reporting, dashboards and SmartPhone reports, all at no additional cost as part of the service.  If you are interested in learning more, just “reply” to this e-mail, or you can sign up for your free two-week trial at http://www.NewHavenTech.com/Trial

Best Wishes for continued success in building your MSP practice!

Dave Keller
Founder and Chief Consulting Officer
New Haven Technologies, LLC
Keller.D@NewHavenTech.com
(765) 335-KNOW

Stop Guessing. Start Knowing.
www.NewHavenTech.com