3 Reasons I Always Track Time - Even on Retainers

I had a conversation the other day about tracking time on client projects.  

Some of the folks I was chatting with shared that they stopped tracking time when they started retainer agreements with their clients. And several of them were surprised to learn that I track for every project I work on. 

Because of that, I decided to share my top 3 reasons I always (always, always!) keep an eye on my time: 

1) Ability to pivot:

This is primarily related to one-off projects. Since I provide customized projects, my quotes can change from project to project. Tracking on each one helps me quote more accurately the next time. It's real-time feedback, so I know if I'm quoting over or under at any point.

2) Protection for my clients:

This is how it works: My retainer clients pay for a set number of hours at the beginning of the month. If they don't use the hours, they lose them. Throughout the month, the client may ask for an update on where we are. Tracking our projects is a built-in quality control method. I'm able to set my clients at ease by letting them know they're getting what they paid for. (And giving them an accurate picture of how long recurring tasks take to complete.)

3) Protection for myself:

There's an additional component to my retainer packages. If a client goes over their pre-paid hours (that were booked at a discounted rate), they are invoiced for the overage they used at my full rate. Knowing how much time a client has used ensures balance for me. If I protect my time, it serves everyone. It means that I can fulfill my obligations to my entire portfolio of clients - and that way, I'm sure I'm providing value. 

I'd love to hear from you if (and why) you track time used on projects. Let me know below!