When I worked with clients on a time and materials basis, I hated logging hours. I hated having the stop watch’s tick tock over me, being forced to account for every increment of time. Or, as it often happened, trying to remember after the fact where the hours went. I never met another developer who liked it either.
So, when 37signals launched the 37express idea, I thought about how cool it was (this was before I joined the company). Turning consulting into a product and charging a fixed price for it. No time-tracking, no tick tock, just clear expectations of what the client was going to get. It really opened my eyes to “you can refuse to do the shit you don’t want to do” way of running a business.
Other judo solutions to avoid time-tracking I’ve seen from consultants have been simply day or, preferably, week rates. You have my attention for this amount of time. Whatever we get done, we get done. I’m not going to break it down into 15-minute increments. Love it.
Similarly, I have almost equal wrath for the expense report. I’ve always felt that if you hire and pay me a good wage, why on earth would you want to always be checking in on me, forcing me to justify a $200 software purchase, or a plane ticket to a conference, or whatever else I might need to do my job well. Keeping paper receipts around and dutifully marking them down. Fuck that.
Now if you have multiple, concurrent clients, and you’re making them pay for your individual expenses, fine. You’re going to have to assign who paid for what steaks and who paid for what strippers.
But the legitimate moaning I’m hearing from people over expenses reports is when they’re being forced to do them purely for internal bookkeeping. This seems like a complete relic from the days when people would pay businesses expenses in cash. Nowadays your credit card company keeps all this on file. What was paid, who it was paid to, who charged it, even categorized. All the data is there. Asking people to fill that in again by hand just seems insulting.
Optimizing your business for happiness is about a lot of things, but taking out all the needless administrative minutiae seems like one of the easiest. Why aren’t you?