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How to track billable and none billable hours for different Clients in JIRA



Many companies working on Jira need to enable their team members to track spent time efficiently, distinguish between billable and non-billable time and correctly associate spent hours to different clients. This makes it easier for managers to know what their team is currently working on, and is key for billing clients correctly, thus preventing revenue leaks. 


For the purpose of this post, we will demonstrate the built-in Jira time-tracking functionality and show a workaround that allows you to log time on JIRA issues as billable and non-billable and assign them to a particular Clinet by using JIRA custom Select Fields.


We will then discuss what potentially easier alternatives exist out there in the marketplace. Let’s dive in.


Setting up JIRA for tracking billable time by using custom select fields.


In many occasions, simply tracking time per JIRA issue is not informative enough, especially when it comes to billing clients correctly. The reason for that is that often not all time spent by employees/freelancers is actual billable time. 


In such cases, it is important to be able to differentiate between time spent and billable time, as well as assign that billable time to the correct client. At the end, you’d want to be able to export the billable time into usable format to be used by payroll and accounting, as well as provide to the Client for their records.


Unfortunately, the default JIRA time-tracking functionality does not allow you to distinguish between time spent and billable time. Another limitation is that you are not able to assign time spent to a particular Client. If, as a JIRA user, you require that functionality, here is a smart way to achieve the same effect using custom select fields.


Custom Select Fields in JIRA can be created and added to any existing JIRA issue or ticket, just like a tag. Essentially, they act as additional labels that can signify if time tracked on an issue is billable or not by tagging that issue as such.


By using these labels, at the end of the month you will be able to filter your data by your custom select field and extract the report you require to bill clients correctly.


Setting Custom Select Fields in JIRA - Step by Step Guide


Here is a guide on how to do the above process step by step:

First thing you need to do is create the Custom fields you will use as tags for your JIRA issues. Here’s how:

1. Go to top right and click Settings, then select Issues

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2. Under Fields, select Custom Fields

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3. Under Select a Field Type, find the Select List (single choice) option and click Next.

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4. Now you can create the Custom Select Field/s you need by choosing an appropriate name (for ex. Spent Hours Type), give it a description and add the options you want to be selecting from when tagging your JIRA issues (for ex: Working Hours and Billable Hours).

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After you create your custom fields, it’s important to make sure you assign them to the correct Projects/Screens you will be using them for. See the screenshot below for an example.

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Congratulations! Your new custom select fields are all set and assigned to their respective projects. From this point on, when creating new issues in JIRA, you will be able to give values to these new custom fields by choosing from the options you pre-set. This way, you will tag your issues accordingly and know whether time spent on them was Worked or Billable.


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Logging billable and non-billable time on JIRA Issues


After successfully setting up the custom select fields for Billable hours and Client, users can now log time to issues that are tagged accordingly by selecting the correct preset option. This makes it easier to bill your clients correctly, especially when creating monthly time reports in JIRA. 


For instance, in the screenshot below we log 8 hours of work to a JIRA issue titled “Test Story 1”. We select “Billable” value in the Spent Hours Type field, and choose “Client A” from the dropdown in Clinet field. 


You will name your custom select fields in whatever manner works best for your team and purpose. By following this protocol, you are able to track billable vs non-billable hours for different Clients in your JIRA environment. 


Screenshot 2022-03-24 at 15.04.25.png


Extracting Information on Billable Hours for a Particular Clinet

Once all users have logged their billable and non-billable monthly hours in JIRA, and have assigned them to Clients accordingly, it is now possible to create the report you need.


Let’s say you want to export a report for how many hours should be billed to Client A. In order to get that information, here are the steps for follow:


1. Go to JIRA and select Filters from the top menu. Choose Advance Issues Search.

2. Proceed to add the two newly created custom fields to the Search bar by clicking on +More.


Screenshot 2022-03-25 at 11.04.47.png   

3. Select the value from a custom select field you want to filter against, for instance “Billable hours” in Spent Hours Type.

Screenshot 2022-03-25 at 11.06.09.png


4. Once you complete the selection, relevant tagged issues will appear as a list.

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JIRA Time Tracking Limitations & Adding Extra Functionality


While Jira offers a good basic time tracking functionality, it has its limitations. The workaround above makes it possible to track billable time spent on a particular client using the default JIRA options. However, it requires a fair bit of manual work and there is no way to get a good total overview on how each of your team members is spending their time on Clients. 


If you need better filtering and reporting options and the default Jira time tracking capability just doesn’t cut it for you, you can choose to turn to the Atlassian Marketplace. Simply look for and install an add-on app that offers the feature you need to get that extra functionality.


One such add-on is Timescale as it specialises in making tracking billable hours for Clients particularly easy. See how it does it in the next section.


Easily Tracking Billable Time on Different Clients using Timescale for JIRA


Here is how to track billable vs non-billable work and associate it with different Clients in Timescale. 


After installing the app, follow these steps:


Setting your Client base:


  1. Navigate to Settings / Clients
  2. Create your client by assigning JIRA projects to them that users will eventually log billable time to.


Logging time 


As you can see in the screenshot below, the Timescale Log Time Form includes special fields like Billable Time as well as the option to select a Client that makes this process super easy. 


Every user can directly specify how much out of their worked time on a JIRA issue is billable as well as associate it to a particular Client.

Screenshot 2022-05-30 at 11.53.32.png

Building the Client Report you need

1. Once in Timescale, navigate to Reports in the left hand side menu. Under “Please select a type of report to generate” choose Clients.

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2. Proceed to choose the Client you’d like a report for. In our example that is Client A and after clicking, you will see all logged time for that client for the selected time period.

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In order to see more details like which user has logged the time you can switch to List view.

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You also have to option to export the timesheet report to Excel. Screenshot 2022-03-25 at 16.50.50.png

By following this intuitive process when using Timescale, you can easily track time and bill Clients correctly.

In conclusion


While there is a workaround you can use to get the default JIRA time tracking functionality to work for you when tracking billable time for different Clients, it is far easier to use an add-on such as Timescale for that purpose.


By installing Timescale, you get access to a wealth of extra time tracking functionality, comprehensive reporting options, and detailed timesheet logging that allows you to reduce revenue leakages, keep track of billable work across the board and make life much easier for payroll & invoicing.




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