How to Solve a Problem like Timesheets?

Nobody likes timesheets. When deadlines are looming and you’re juggling multiple clients on multiple projects, a timesheet is the last thing you want to think about.

Logically you know that they are an important part of agency life. Timesheets help keep an eye on how many hours are logged as part of the campaign delivery for both billing AND accountability purposes. They’re also a check that things are running smoothly and give important analysis for projections and future projects.

But to agency teams, they can often feel like an irritating piece of extra admin that’s keeping them from the next task. And often with the additional hurdle of ensuring that teams are filling them out accurately, suddenly timesheets become quite the quandary.

How do other agencies solve this problem?

We spoke to an expert at ​TBWA\NEBOKO​ who outlined how they do this. Their system includes daily emails from WorkBook and weekly company reminders from their finance team. They also make presentations to employees to make them aware of the negative financial impact of failing to accurately fill in timesheets.

Our friends over at ​FOLK​ encourage staff to book time out in their calendars each day to complete timesheets, as well as weekly check-ins for those who have not completed them.

There are other innovative ways that agencies ‘encourage’ the completion of timesheets.

One of our favourites has to be ​Drink Time Sheet​ by Wunderman Thompson Brasil (formerly ​JWT)​. Dominating their office common area is a fridge full of beer. The rub here though is that it doesn’t open until timesheets are 100% complete. The perfect team-building, timesheet completing initiative.

Public naming and shaming is also a common method employed by many agencies. Although, we’re not sure of exactly how effective this is, not just for timesheets but also staff morale.

Iris has developed a program called ‘Teacupping’. This is a software that blocks employees who haven’t finished their timesheets from using Facebook, Instagram and Google.

RPA employ a ‘no expense reimbursement until timesheets are done’ policy, whereas The Martin Agency in Richmond, Virginia offer up a variety of treats; full catered breakfasts, barbeque’s, candy bowls and a hot chocolate bar – but only for those individuals who have filled in their timesheets.


With all the different methods of encouragement or punishment that agencies use to get those timesheets in, it’s easy to see why so many of them are rethinking their model.

We’ve noticed agencies making the move towards value-based pricing models with timesheets acting as a milestone rather than total billable hours. The focus here is on the outcome rather than the hours. You can read more about value-based pricing here.

As timesheets are part of agency life for the foreseeable future, we find that the simple things work best. Consistent and persistent communications, weekly reminders and education. Don’t assume staff from different teams understand why timesheets are so important to the business. Tell them, show them and remind them, so they too are invested in the end result.

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Our consultants have worked with hundreds of agencies to help streamline their processes and workflows. Find out more about Tangram’s consulting services and ask how we can help your business.

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Helen Johnson 
+61 404 458 797


Christian Arpe-Hansen
+45 31 36 66 03