Should PR Agencies Dump Timesheets? Two Founders Disagree
The PR Cavalry
PR Agency Timesheets Good or Bad? Two Founders Have Opposing Views
A couple of comments in the always interesting Facebook Group run by industry stalwart Wadds caught our eye. It was opposing views on the value of timesheets from Raf Weverbergh, of Finn Agency and Darryl Sparey of Hard Numbers.
Raf is a fan of timesheets, Darryl refuses to use them. Both are very smart operators, so how can both be right?
Both, incidentally, are valued clients of The PR Cavalry so we thought, why not invite them to duke it out and develop their arguments in a video call?
We were worried that it might be a slightly bland encounter between two people talking for the first time and both parties eager to be terribly nice to the other but it was a wide-ranging and very honest discussion which reveals that whether you are for or against timesheets, the decision HAS to be rooted in the agency’s broader culture and ways of working.
Should Agencies Use Timesheets?
Raf is very alive to the weaknesses of timesheets and that nobody enjoys form filling, but his agency culture and relationships with clients turns that discipline into a freedom which means that when you close the laptop, that’s an end to the day with both agency and client respecting that the work has been delivered to the best of everyone’s abilities within the time allotted.
This fits into a relentless effort on efficiency and ‘lean’ operating methods. But despite this sophistication, Raf did let slip that the ex-journos he employs still grumble most about being controlled by the system.
Hard Numbers rejects timesheets for reasons of culture and also sees this decision as discipline of a different kind. The agency prides itself on investing to a far higher degree than other agencies on tools and systems which increase individual efficiency and work flow and uses this information based approach to agree programmes of work with clients where timesheets would add little extra value and potentially be used as a stick to beat them.
Who is right and who is wrong?
They are both right because using timesheets, or their absence, fits a way of working that is reflected throughout each agency’s philosophy, its offer to clients and its relationship with its staff. Pick one.
Where both parties agree is that timesheets cause internal resentment and add no client value when they are a bolt-on to very traditional agency structures and blunt approaches to pricing. Neither the agency owner knows why they are recording and selling time this way and the account handlers treat it as a chore and the data inputted is then not just unreliable, it masks huge write-offs in value and offers no meaningful protection against over-servicing.
Darryl also made the point that agencies with lots of salaried resource to keep busy can not only end up pitching for clients just to fill that empty and expensive inventory, thy are likely to allow timesheets to be abused in the process of measuring efficiency. Obviously the answer to that is a strategic approach to flexible PR talent by employing more PR freelancers