For a full-time employee in a corporate setting, it was not unheard of to have a work week that consisted of 50-70+ hours. Perhaps that was your pre-consulting life too? Full-time employees responsibilities are full of project deadlines, deliverables, on-call hours, planning, coding and testing, etc… What people have found liberating (and exciting) when becoming a consultant is that they still had some of those same project demands however they actually got paid for every hour they worked.
We’ve received numerous questions on the topic of Banking Time and how to Appropriately Bill Hours so here are some of Hollstadt’s consulting best practices and expectations to help provide clarification on the topic:
Appropriately Billing Hours
Timesheets: Your Client timesheet and your consulting hours should always match exactly. If you work 6.5 hours one day and 9.5 hours the next day you should be reflecting that exact time for each day. At any time the client can check your physical presence to their facility access report to ensure your location and time matches to your timesheet hours, or the client may check to see when you are logging in and out of their network when you are working remotely. Integrity is key!
Get Approval for your Time: Every Client has different requirements for how time is approved. At the beginning of your assignment you should ask how that Client Manager would like to confirm and approve your hours worked. Then follow that process accordingly.
You may have heard of Clients that practice ‘banking time’ which allows a Consultant to work more hours in one week than they are contracted/approved to work and hold or ‘bank’ those extra hours for a later use. This allows the Consultant to have paid time off, rather than being paid for the extra hours at the time worked. Not only is this practice illegal it also puts you at risk. For example, if your project was ended early due to budget, the client and your consulting firm would not be bound to pay you for the ‘banked’ hours as they were not recorded.
As a Consultant you are contractually obligated to submit hours for every hour you have worked during a time period. Never give free time to a client. It hurts you, your firm and the Client by misrepresenting your workload. If you are over capacity, utilize your consulting support team to brainstorm options to correct the situation. Getting paid for every hour you work is one of the most valued benefits of being a consultant. You work hard and deserve to be paid for every hour you work.