The Guide to Time Tracking for Architects

by
George Valdes
Learn how time tracking can help you stay on budget, meet deadlines, manage your workflow more effectively, and help you price out that next project.
The Guide to Time Tracking for Architects
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Whether you’re billing by the hour or working on a fixed-fee basis, tracking time is an essential part of running a successful architecture practice. Time tracking can help you stay on budget, meet deadlines, and manage your workflow more effectively. It can even help you understand how to price that next project. 

But with so many time tracking solutions on the market, it can be tough to know where to start. 

In this blog post, we’ll give you a crash course in time tracking for architects, including why it’s important and what to look for in a time tracking solution. 

We’ll also show you how Monograph’s time tracking features are uniquely designed to meet the needs of architects and other design professionals. 

Why is Tracking Time Important? 

There are many reasons why tracking time is important for architects. Here are a couple of important examples:

Staying on Budget

Perhaps the most obvious reason is that it can help you stay on budget and avoid scope creep.

If you bill by the hour, time tracking can help you become more efficient and productive, which can lead to higher profits. 

Even If you’re working on a fixed-fee basis, accurate time tracking is essential to ensuring that you don’t end up working for free. 

Improved Project Management and Proposals

In addition to financial benefits, time tracking can also help you improve your workflow and project management skills. 

By understanding how much time you spend on different tasks, and where the bottlenecks are, you can make changes to improve project flow and efficiency. 

For example, if you realize that you’re spending too much time on revisions, you might decide to set stricter limits on revisions in the future. 

Or if you notice that certain types or sizes of projects always seem to take longer than expected, you can adjust your estimates accordingly. 

This information can be used to price future projects more accurately, which can lead to increased profits. 

What Should You Look for in a Time Tracking Solution? 

When searching for a time tracking solution, there are a few key features to look for: 

  1. Ease of use: The best time tracking solutions are designed to be as simple and intuitive as possible.
    You should be able to start tracking your time with just a few clicks—no complex setup process required. If your team finds the interface to be slow and clunky, that’s probably a good sign that it's not going to be consistently used. 
  2. Beautifully fast: Similar to ease-of-use, your time tracking solution should also feel like it's highly performant and fast. No one should have to wait precious seconds to receive confirmation that your time has been saved. 
  3. Phase-based tracking: While many solutions offer simple time tracking workflows, a real challenge for architecture firms is phase-based tracking. Very few solutions actually allow you to track time by phase making it hard to understand how long they take to complete. There is a lot of information loss when you can only track time according to tasks or projects at a high level. 
  4. Categorization by Activities: Being able to track your time according to the activities you’re performing is an easy way to help you report on how you spend your time as a firm. 
  5. Notes and Expense Tracking: Time tracking should go hand in hand with expense tracking and note taking. Being able to add a bit more context to your time entries with notes is really helpful for reporting against activities.
  6. Auditing: Being able to audit your team’s time is a critical workflow feature that will help ensure your team is placing the right entries into the right activities and phases.  
  7. Insightful Reporting: All of your timesheet data should be able to provide you with clear insights into how your firm is performing via robust reports  that are fast and easy to manipulate. 

The Dangers of Using Spreadsheets for Time Tracking

At first glance, using a spreadsheet for time tracking may seem like a perfectly adequate solution. After all, spreadsheets are simple to use, easy to access, and if you already have Excel or Google Sheets, easy to create. However, there are several dangers associated with using spreadsheets for time tracking that firm owners should be aware of. 

  1. Inaccurate data: One of the most significant dangers of using a spreadsheet for time tracking is that the data entered into the spreadsheet can be inaccurate. This is especially true if multiple people are entering data into the spreadsheet. For example, if someone forgets to start the timer when they begin working on a task, the data in the spreadsheet will be inaccurate. 

  1. Lost data: Another danger of using spreadsheets for time tracking is that data can be easily lost. For example, if someone accidentally deletes a row of data, that data is gone forever. Additionally, if the spreadsheet is not backed up regularly, all of the data could be lost in the event of a power outage or computer crash. 

  1. Difficult to use: Spreadsheets can also be difficult to use, particularly for those who are not comfortable with technology. For example, if someone does not know how to insert a formula properly, they might inadvertently delete important data. Additionally, navigating a spreadsheet can be difficult and time-consuming. 

All this said, we know that some firm owners are set in their ways, might be comfortable in the world of spreadsheets, and might not find saving billable and non-billable time to be a high priority for the business. This is why we designed the best timesheet spreadsheet template specifically for architects.

Monograph's Timesheet Template is the best timesheet template for Google Sheets and Excel out there but even we will admit, it's still a spreadsheet. Reach out to learn how Monograph turns your phase-based time into insights and cashflow.


If you’re looking to graduate from the world of disconnected spreadsheets, then read on to learn more about how Monograph can help.

What Makes Monograph Time Tracking Unique?

Monograph is the only comprehensive time tracking software specifically designed for architects and design professionals. We offer all of the features listed above—ease of use, beautifully fast software, phase-based time tracking, helpful categorization, expense tracking, insightful reporting—and more. 

Plus, time tracking is only a part of the value you get with Monograph’s invoicing and payments workflows. Go from planned to paid with our easy-to-use invoicing platform that integrates with Quickbooks Online. 

With Monograph’s project management features, firms can stay on top of project budgets and schedules more efficiently in real-time. Our project financial reports also make it easy to understand where your firm’s time is being spent and identify areas where improvements can be made. 

Monograph’s unique features, like the MoneyGantt, also make it an ideal solution for optimizing your firm’s project performance. The MoneyGantt offers a graphically intuitive at-a-glance view of your project budgets so you never have to wonder or spend time figuring where your team is at.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive yet very user-friendly time tracking solution specifically designed for architects—get started today! 

Conclusion

Time tracking is essential for any architectural practice—whether you bill by the hour or work on a fixed-fee basis. Accurate time tracking can help you stay on budget and avoid scope creep while also improving your workflow and project management skills. When searching for a time tracking solution, look for one that is easy to use and beautifully fast enough to meet your firm’s needs.  Monograph’s unique features make it an ideal choice for firms looking to improve their time tracking and their entire practice operations. 

About the Author
George Valdes Photo

George Valdes is part of the Growth team at Monograph. He deeply enjoys solving complex problems in the built environment and in the AEC industry and is interested in helping architecture firms take control of their marketing. George earned his Bachelor's of Landscape Architecture at Florida International University and his Master's of Architecture from Columbia University.

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