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Accurate time tracking is essential for many professionals, such as freelancers, accountants, lawyers, advertising agencies, PR companies and consultants. Internal project planning and especially the correct invoicing of customer services benefit from it.
In this article, we explain what exactly distinguishes billable hours from non-billable hours, which activities you can bill and why you should track your billable hours in the first place. Finally, we'll introduce an efficient Jira time tracking software that allows you to easily track your billable time and thus optimize your workflow.
Billable hours define the working time that is directly spent on a customer project. Since these hours create direct value for the customer and the project due to the close customer relationship, they can be fully billed.
Billable hours are essential because they represent productive time that adds measurable value to customer projects or tasks. They serve as the basis for transparent billing and efficient management of client projects. Billable hours can include diverse activities such as consulting, project management, creative work, technical implementation or any other form of services.
To understand how best to track billable hours, it is first important to clarify exactly which activities are considered billable.
Consultations with customers and training sessions
Travel time to on-site customer appointments
Preparation of individual (also creative) solution proposals
Programming and coding work and adaptation of customer requirements
Preparation of contracts and legal documents
Answering e-mails about the project
Developing business strategies, project timelines or data analyses
Conducting research on client issues
Monitoring and coordinating project activities
Risk management and quality assurance
Creating designs for logos, graphics, and marketing materials
In short, all hours are billable as long as they are related to the core tasks of the client engagement.
Accurately tracking and managing billable hours is critical for businesses and professionals to ensure transparent billing, calculate costs, and ensure profitability of their operations. Billable hours are not only a “check” for clients, but also ensure that service providers’ efforts are appropriately compensated.
This is especially evident in a Tribes.AI survey of 1,200 managers. About 90.5% of respondents are convinced that billable hours are missing, and they estimate the average loss at 21.5%. This means that globally, nearly one in five billable hours is not tracked!
Tracking billable hours allows you to accurately invoice the services you provide. This primarily promotes the trust of your customers, as they regard clear and transparent billing as a sign of reliability and professionalism. Finally, working time recording ensures that you are remunerated accordingly for the services you provide.
Tracking billable hours is crucial for effective project management. It allows you to track the progress of individual tasks and projects, create realistic schedules, and allocate resources efficiently. By monitoring the time invested in each project, you gain insight into the associated costs and profitability. This allows you to make informed decisions about which projects should be pursued and which should be avoided.
In some countries (and industries), accurate tracking of billable hours is required by law. By tracking your working hours, you avoid legal conflicts and are literally on the safe side.
Accurately tracking billable hours ensures that no revenue is overlooked. Every hour worked contributes to revenue generation, and accurate recording maximizes revenue. Additionally, better visibility into your project-based labor hours gives you the ability to make fact-based assessments of when to offer discounts on larger projects.
Improve team management
Another benefit of keeping a record of billable hours is the ideal overview of your team members’ working hours. This way, you can easily see where additional guidance or supervision may be needed. This allows you to use team resources more effectively and increase overall productivity (and satisfaction).
Non-billable time, on the other hand, defines all working time that is not directly related to a task for a customer project and therefore does not represent direct monetary added value.
Non-billable hours include: internal administrative work such as team meetings, concept development for business development, administrative activities, or training for personal development. Although these activities are not billable, freelancers in particular should not do without them, as they are essential for the expansion of the core activities and the (own) brand.
Fixing own avoidable mistakes
Networking events for business development
As a small help in making the distinction, you can simply ask yourself as you go about your activities:
Does the time it takes me to complete the task contribute to bringing the project to completion?
Does the work add measurable value to the project or the client?
Is the task I’m working on defined in this way in a (project) contract?
To track your billable hours, you should first set an invoicing schedule and define an hourly rate for each project you work on. Then, detailed tracking takes place: track the time spent per project and client. This is followed by invoicing.
There are two ways to document your billable hours:
You do it manually, with lists or tools like Excel, or
You use automated processes and smart time tracking software.
Many companies use Jira software, the powerful project management platform, to streamline their operations and manage projects efficiently. Since the importance of tracking working hours should not be underestimated, Jira has built-in solutions for tracking time. However, since this quickly reaches its limits, there are some time tracking apps that extend Jira’s basic capabilities. Time tracking software that has real-time timers are particularly convenient and time-saving. Tempo as well as Timesheet Builder primarily score here.
We would like to introduce the latter app to you in more detail.
Timesheet Builder is the ultimate time tracking and billing application for remote teams and businesses of all sizes. Track billable hours with detailed timesheets that show how much time was spent on each project or task without having to repeat yourself. With easy-to-use features and an intuitive interface, Timesheet Builder makes tracking and analyzing billable time seamless.
Timesheet Builder integrates a timer feature with Jira. To track your work time, simply click the timer’s plus icon in the Jira issue.
When you are done with the activity, press “Stop”.
If your Jira Admin has enabled the “Billable Hours” option, you will see the “Billable” toggle. Here, you can now choose if you want to define the just tracked working time as billable or not.
Click “Save” and your billable times have been tracked.
No matter how you track your billable hours, they will be easily visible in the Jira ticket with the dollar icon.
Wondering what “Hidden” means in the screenshot? That’s our Secured Worklogs feature. It lets you specify who should or shouldn’t see which time logs in your team with just a few clicks. Privacy compliance made easy. Learn more: How to ensure secure time tracking with Jira.
Timesheet Builder allows you to track billable hours in several ways. Here you can see the drag-and-drop variant.
Navigate to the calendar view, drag any Jira task to the corresponding day, activate the Billable toggle and your time has been tracked!
To get the perfect overview of billable and non-billable working time, Timesheet Builder provides you with far-reaching filtering features in your timesheets.
To easily create invoices for customers, you can export all tables directly to Excel.
The benefits of tracking billable hours directly in Jira have been outlined in this guide. To efficiently track your hours and maximize your performance, you don’t need to use complex spreadsheets. A time tracking tool for billable hours like Timesheet Builder will make your (working) life easier and ensure that you can optimize your processes and work more relaxed at the same time.