How to Solve a Problem like Timesheets?

Nobody likes timesheets. But it’s important to remember they provide valuable insights into resource allocation, project efficiency, and overall productivity, paving the way for informed decision-making and improved outcomes.

Logically, timesheets are an integral part of agency life. They play a crucial role in monitoring logged hours for campaign delivery, serving both billing and accountability purposes. Timesheets act as a check to ensure smooth operations and provide essential data for analysis, forecasting, and future projects. 

Yet, to agency teams, they can feel like an of extra admin task, diverting attention from delivering campaigns for clients. The additional challenge of ensuring accurate completion adds to the complexity of managing timesheets.

How do creative agencies solve the challenge of timesheets?

Public naming and shaming is a common method but we’re not sure of exactly how effective this is, not just for timesheets but also staff morale. Here are some innovative ways that agencies ‘encourage’ the completion of timesheets. 

We spoke with TBWA\NEBOKO who shared insights into their effective timesheet management approach. Their system incorporates daily emails from WorkBook and weekly company reminders issued by the finance team. Additionally, they conduct presentations to raise awareness among employees about the negative financial impact of failing to accurately complete timesheets. 

Strategy design consultancy, FOLK prioritises timesheet completion by incorporating daily calendar slots dedicated to this task. Additionally, weekly check-ins serve as a gentle reminder for those who may have overlooked this crucial responsibility. 

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 catch here though is that it doesn’t open until timesheets are 100% complete. The perfect team-building, timesheet completing initiative! 

Iris developed a program called ‘Teacupping’ 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, barbeques, candy bowls and a hot chocolate bar – but only for those individuals who have filled in their timesheets. 

The Future of 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. 

As more agencies move towards value-based pricing models with timesheets acting as a milestone rather than total billable hours, the focus is on the outcome rather than the hours. There is a lot of talk on value-based pricing in adland and we take a look at the definition and what it means for agencies. 

Gamification software Time Jam is transforming time tracking into an engaging and enjoyable activity for agency teams. The software introduces a playful element as users earn points based on the timeliness and completeness of their timesheets. Each month, the team with the highest score earns a prize, fostering a sense of competition and camaraderie. Agencies that have adopted Time Jam report an impressive 95% of hours being tracked on time!  

As timesheets are part of agency life for the foreseeable future, we find that the simple things work best. Consistent and persistent communications, regular reminders and education around the impact of timesheets to the business.  

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