The Gift & The Curse: Non-Billable Time

The Gift & The Curse: Non-Billable Time

Most firms have hours, days, weeks even – of non-billable time unceremoniously dumped into “admin” every month… or worse, not even recorded at all (but we’ve talked about that before!).

That could be $100’s of thousands of dollars of time on genuine, useful & essential “admin”… or not. Mostly likely “not” to be honest.

Don’t get me wrong – tracking non-billable time as “admin” is a useful starting point on your journey to superior $margins, but a common curse is it often becomes the final destination…

Imagine: You’ve sold in the value of time management across the firm, so your team diligently record everything billable to projects, but then stick the remaining 10-50% (junior > senior) of their week in the “admin” dustbin… you still feel positive, because you can start to analyze utilization, project margin & staff availability (to a degree) …

Not bad.

By doing that though, the curse is cast, because you tell yourself you’ll get on top of the “admin” bucket later… once time-tracking has been fully adopted, when your team grows, or whenever the next excuse you want to tell yourself occurs… and it never, ever, happens.

If you break-down non-billable time from this day forwards, it’ll be the gift that keeps on giving… 

There are, at least, 5 game-changing insights you will gain:

    1. Sales and new business are often a big suck of your most senior (& expensive) people’s time… so many firms commit resource & expense to building relationships, proposals, proof of concepts… ‘Cost of sale’ is often a huge hidden expense in PS firms, who are constantly working on RFPs or bids… so get a handle on which opportunities drive revenue & high margin work, are a sunken cost, or just a complete waste of time.
    1. Continued learning & development is crucial to your key employees, so ensure they track every internal & external training, mentoring session, company insights… so when it comes to their performance review, the hours of education your firm has provided, is well-documented… & given you know their hourly rate, you can put a $dollar value on what you’ve committed to their personal development. 
    1. Intellectual Capital (IC) is huge in PS firms – it’s the secret sauce in your delivery methodology, it’s the value creating documentation, a framework that delivers client results… find out how much $investment is being made into your IC, which feeds your pricing, your value proposition, or reveals it’s under-invested & needs TLC.
    1. Marketing & personal brand will help drive referrals, inbound & your lead-gen machine… and for most PS firms that doesn’t mean huge $spend on Ad campaigns, but getting their people to tell client stories, share industry insight & therefore use their non-billable time in a productive way. Insight into the true cost of your webinar series, eBook or in-person events is often startling.
    1. Admin! After you’ve run a Work Breakdown Structure, you’ll be able to determine what “admin” actually constitutes (pro tip: changes for different people) … updating spreadsheets, creating reports, filling in CRM records… this gives you a clear picture of which “admin” you should automate, outsource, rationalize etc.

Every PS firm is different, but the non-billable time gift is present for all firms to maximize. Avoiding the curse doesn’t have to be Founder-led – whoever wears your “Operations” hat in your firm should be tasked with driving this… but the benefits are huge for founders & your team.

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.