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Yep. The model is evolving. PwC is likely trying something similar as well. We shall see. Would be good to get away from timesheet banging. Utilization is a joke. Time keeping should only be required when we’re working on jobs that are billed by the hour. And honestly I believe it would make every project more efficient if we stopped tracking for all but those projects.

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Manager - There are many partners (myself included) who would love to be done with them for many of the reasons you outline.

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If any public accountings are getting rid of billable hours requirement, I would like to join them. Doing a timesheet is nightmare for me everyday at PA.

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There are some modern firms out there that do it. The Real Estate CPA and TrueBooks CPA are a couple that I know of, but keep in mind they are real ratter specific and a smaller firm.

It’s interesting to read that list and know that Deloitte Canada is already doing all of those things and then some

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Definitely not Vancouver then. Deloitte’s new grad offer was exactly the same as KPMGs for incoming 2023.

In my personal experience billable hours create more problems then they solve. In theory it’s a good thing to be able to track time on a project in order to create accurate budgets and quote your work correctly. The problem is that people regularly abuse this system on both ends. For example, a very common thing I see at my firm is:

Client has been charged about X amount of dollars every year for several years. As the scope of the work increases overtime, so does the time it takes to complete. But being that I work in tax, clients typically aren’t super thrilled about the prospect of paying more for tax work. So in order to retain the client the partner will typically not approve a realistic budget and instead lowballs the heck out of the engagement. Come tax season some poor staff fresh out of college can’t figure out why this clearly 8-10 hour return is being budgeted at 5-6 hours. Manager isn’t happy about the time spent (because the partner isn’t) so now staff feels pressured to eat time to be in line with the budget expectation. But simultaneous to all of this the firm is separately mandating that staff work 55 hours. So how do you get your hours then when you’re constantly being pressured to eat time across multiple engagements? You find the job with the most total hours that has the most moving parts, hardest to track, etc. and dump your time there. What’s an extra two hours on a 100 hour prep budget? Or alternatively, you bill all the time and wait to be reprimanded for going over budget. Or you eat time and make it up later by working even more. Or you just finish the week short on your hours because you ate time. None of these are good outcomes, they don’t represent the reality of the engagement but when you create a negative work environment people will do what they have to go stay under the radar and out of trouble. This is just one example, but it’s a fairly common scenario and more people need to wake up to the reality of what happens at firms that operate like this.

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Thank you for sharing! Spot on!

The only reason I might disagree here is because I think The metric can be useful from all sides. If we are not tracking how much I work at what point can I reach out to the higher ups to say that I’m overworked, and what proof do I have of that as an employee? Right now my utilization and total hours are insane and it’s a great way to show the partners that I need more help and assistance. And frankly set a hard line that I’m not taking on any more work.

Maybe I’m just old and jaded but I’m trying to figure out how this benefits the firm - if people are going this way it must be somehow beneficial for them. Like the scam called “unlimited vacation.”

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PwC2 The hours metric is sub-optimal from all sides. Let me explain.

You are spot-on in saying we need to track what is being done by our Staff. However, we need prospective data. Timesheets are retrospective. By the time you post your hours on the timesheet it is too late. Proper project management requires identifying the steps required for the project and tracking progress from start to completion in real-time. Rather than recording hours think in terms of tasks and durations. A project broken into a series of smaller tasks and tracked via a workflow system will achieve much better throughput than an hours budget and a timesheet.

Your utilization and total hours may be insane, but I’d argue both of those metrics are largely irrelevant. Rather, if your firm tracked the tasks you’ve successfully completed and the percentage of on-time delivery they’d clearly see the value you provide. They’d also have a dataset that is perfect for scheduling future projects based on your record of achievement in different areas.

If firms are going to use charge hours as a metric to judge the cost of an engagement then they need to stop using it to track worker productivity. As long as they do the latter, workers will over or under charge to suit their own needs and that ruins its utility as a metric to price engagements. They need to decide what’s most important, accurately billing clients or accurately evaluating productivity and efficiency. They can’t do both.

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You’re absolutely right that context matters. You’re also absolutely right that debriefing engagements to get that context is critical and I wish we did it more systemically (we have a fairly large nationalized practice with 20+ leaders; difficult to scale that behavior).

I could absolutely be convinced that time sheets actually add little to no value. I’m generally the one that insists on making hiring decisions based on target revenue per headcount as opposed to hours per person. It’s an interesting debate when it’s obvious to me we need to hire 5-10 people for a specific geography or client/industry segment, yet the time sheet junkie insists we have enough unused capacity in the business to not hire.

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