Fake news, neglect and the horror of transparency We’re talking TIMESHEETS


Nevermind, I’ve lost you, haven’t I?

Once your eyes have rolled back to the correct position from the back of your head, I really, really think I’ve got something here that’s worth your time reading, watching and listening to.

Timesheets are not sexy business chat. I’ll give you that. I’ve never seen a team chomping at the bit to get them done, much like I’ve never met a manager who relishes sending out the old ‘have you filled in your timesheet’ email. They are the ‘tidying up after the party’ type chore. You always know it will need to be done, but the doing never seems to get any less tiresome.

So, with that in mind, I decided to choose timesheets as the lead topic for my Rambling On email. It is yet to be seen if this is unsubscribe suicide.

My chat with Martha Tipple from AME Training was quite frankly, brilliant. Not least because timesheets are an ESSENTIAL part of running a successful agency. If you want to make money, see who’s profitable and stop over-servicing clients, you MUST MUST MUST track your time. Returning to my party analogy, you will figure out if the party itself was worth the clean-up operation. Moving on.

I’ve summarised what Martha and I cover below, but I would highly recommend jumping straight in. Martha is an inspiring business founder and I guarantee that even after a carb heavy lunch you will not only stay awake, but learn more that you thought possible about timesheets, how to manage them and their importance.

Q: Why bother with timesheets? No one uses the data anyway!

  • Productivity
  • Tracking time vs scope
  • Profitability
  • Identifying ‘spare’ time
  • Hiring decisions

Pitfalls of timesheets & importance combining the data with anecdotal evidence:

Q: Timesheets are fake news aren’t they? No one fills them in properly?

How do you get people to fill in their time sheets? 

  • Getting people to complete them in the first place – carrot or stick (or neither)
  • Inaccuracy of data – need to layer anecdotal data on top
  • How to encourage people to reflect ‘spare’ time
  • Time needed to get people to complete them in the first place and then properly look at the data frequently – needs to be a shared responsibility across teams. If people don’t have the time to do this then it’s a pointless exercise.
  • Appoint someone to look after the timesheets and their data
  • To get people to fill in their timesheets properly you need to help them understand why you want them to do them, reassure them it’s not about policing them

How the data can be used effectively

Q: Once you have good inputs, how do you turn data into action?

  • Monthly ‘client health’ reviews
  • Ask three questions of each client:
    • Are they profitable?
    • Are they resourced correctly?
    • Are they healthy (even if they are profitable they might not be healthy as it may be due to lack of resource and under-servicing/unhappy clients) and what next steps there are – ensuring actionable outcomes
  • Sharing with clients to frame conversations around over-servicing and need for increased revenue/resource or pulling back on tasks.
  • To help manage resource and create resource plans moving forward.


 Q: My instincts are always to share info with my teams. By there are horror stories about transparency. Is it a real worry?

  • Deciding who within the business should have access to this data and what level of transparency you are giving teams – including Martha’s experience of going from zero transparency outside of a very small group of people to sharing with all employees
  • The importance of EDUCATION when sharing data (helping employees understand what the data means, why you’re showing it to them and how they should (or shouldn’t!) react)

The sweet spot is making sure middle management are aware and can help manage downwards.

A huge thank you for Martha for being so open and highly engaging about how to get the most from timesheets, it really opened my eyes to just how valuable they can be.

If you want to contact Martha about how she can help you and your teams you can find her on LinkedIn or email martha@ametraining.uk.

If you would like more agency specific articles (plus other great stuff) sign up for my weekly email, Rambling On. 


Every Wednesday I book out an hour to hold a FREE agency leaders surgery. If you have something on your mind, a challenge you’re wrestling with or just want an alternative point of view, I’d be very happy to lend an ear and maybe help you start to unpick the issues. You can help yourself to my calendar, here. Speaking to a diverse group of agency leaders helps me stay current and contextualise the issues I’m seeing with my clients. So please see this conversation as a genuine collaboration where we both hope to learn something new.


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If you have something on your mind, a challenge you’re wrestling with or just want an alternative point of view, I’d be very happy to lend an ear and maybe help you start to unpick the issues.