TIME STAMP – A Computer TIMING pROGRAM
Have you ever had a need to time a job or have your employee(s) or sub-contractor(s) time their work for billing purposes? Have you ever wanted to keep track of the time it takes you to perform a task, type a manuscript or other task? If so, then this tip is for you.
When I started my home-based secretarial services business in January, 1998, I was faced with the dilemma of how to charge for my services. I quickly found that charging everything by the hour was not practical especially when you sub-contract typing and transcription work to others. Some sub-contractors type faster (and more accurately) than others so charging customers and paying sub-contractors using an hourly rate didn’t work.
I knew I had to charge either by-the-typed line or by-the-typed page. But how could I come up with a charge that would result in the hourly rate I wanted for both myself and my sub-contractors. I decided on a per-typed-line rate based on a 12 point Arial font with 1” margins, single spaced.
When you charge the customer by the typed line rate instead of by the page, the customer doesn’t pay for a partial page or for more pages because the document is double-spaced. The customer would pay the same rate whether the page was the standard letter size (8 ½” x 11”), legal size (8 ½” x 14”) or any other size. This is fair to the customer and to the sub-contractors.
The only way I could determine the time it takes to complete each of the different types of jobs I do, typing and transcription work in particular, was to keep track of my time and keep records. But how could I do that efficiently, accurately and fairly?
Searching the internet, I found a small, easy to download and install utility timing program called Time Stamp. Time Stamp has many great features I list at the end of this article.
To find the program, click on this link: (URL) Syntap.
Using Time Stamp to time the typing and/or transcription jobs I was able to determine the time it took to do the job. I timed typing and/or transcription work from handwritten material, documents that contained many strikeouts and handwritten notes, documents that contained tables, financial information, technical terms, etc. I timed transcription from cassette tapes, videos, and digital content based upon the quality of the recording and the quality of the person dictating. I timed transcription from meetings where many people were involved and meetings with questions and answers and many interruptions.
I then counted the number of words typed in the timed job and divided the total minutes by the total number of words. Using this formula I was able to determine a fair rate to charge the customer according to the type of source documentation provided by the customer to be typed or transcribed. I paid my sub-contractors sixty percent of what I charged the customer. This worked out perfectly thanks to Time Stamp.
Many of the jobs I’ve done i.e scanning and converting to text jobs, special formatting, etc. can’t be charged by-the-typed line so I use this program for accurate invoicing of those jobs as well.
I used Time Stamp to estimate how long other types of work took to do so I could determine an estimate when a prospective customer called. I made a chart in Excel with all of this information and kept it handy to give customers a quote either over the phone or by email.
If you decide to try the program, go to the web site listed above. Click on Downloads and follow the instructions from there. This program is FREE… well actually, it’s “Donationware” which means it’s free but the author would appreciate a contribution to continue enhancements and support, which I gladly sent because this program is well worth it. If you decide to use the program, I’m sure you will agree.
To use the program after you install it:
1) Type in the hourly rate you wish to charge and click on Timing.
2) If you are interrupted before you finish the job, click on Slacking.
The timer will divide the time into Work (billable) Time and Slack Time listed at the top listing the total time and cost for each.
You can time different phases of a job by stopping the timer then starting it again.
3) To stop timing the job, simply click on Timing a second time.
Each phase of the job you time will be listed on a different line containing the work time, slack time and total of that phase of the job.
At the end of each line under the Notes column, you can type a short explanation of what you did during that time.
The file can be saved using a file (job) name in any folder you wish. When you’re finished with the job, you can print out the entire page showing all of this information.
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