Time Tracking

In our remote, asynchronous culture, our timesheets are pivotal for the whole business to understand how well we are taking advantage of our primary resource: Team hours.

It is critical that all team members maintain a high standard of accuracy and descriptiveness within their time sheet. Otherwise, we may end up with an inaccurate understanding of how much time a given task took. Worse, since we have many hourly clients and projects, we may accidentally not bill a client for work they received, or may end up overcharging.

Think of your timesheet as a bill to the client. If you were writing out a summary for the client of what you did during a certain period, it would need to identify not only the project and type of work, but the specific part of it you worked on as well.

One of our values is transparency. Accurate timesheets allows us to be fully transparent with clients. Another one of our values is flexibility. Since our clients trust us, we get to be flexible in the style we work within, and don’t need to have super-rigid scopes.

We currently spend significant time analyzing and reshuffling timesheets after entry when Chris prepares to bill a client. If we can get more efficient and accurate with the timesheets the first time around, it will save us significant time and money over the long run.

We are also trying to learn more about how we use our un-billed Cantilever time, so that we can minimize any waste and maximize our return on that time. Clear and accurate timesheets are just as important for internal work.


  • Track your time while you work. Your goal is to log, to the minute, all the time you spent on a given task. Please don’t round or estimate after the fact – turn the timer on while working, and turn it off when done.
  • Timesheet entries must be in the correct project and task. If you cannot find a suitable task to put your time in, speak to the relevant project manager and write it in a notebook to enter when fixed.
  • Timesheet entry descriptions must describe not just what task you were working on, but what you did for that task. When possible, they should complete this sentence: "During this time, I ________________". Remember that this description is a BILL for the client and needs to be clear and accurate with regard to what Cantilever did for them.
    • Example 1:
      • Project: New Homepage
      • Task: Frontend Development
      • Good description: "Started on homepage HTML/CSS"
      • Bad description: "Frontend". What did we do on the fronend?
      • Bad description: "Homepage". What did we do on the homepage?
      • Bad description: "HTML/CSS". What was the HTML/CSS for?
    • Example 2:
      • Project: New Invoicing System
      • Task: Initial Implementation
      • Good description: "Migrated old invoices from 2011 through 2013 into new system"
      • Bad description: "Old invoices". What did we do with them?
      • Bad description: "2011-2013". What from those years?

Basecamp Entry

The Harvest Chrome extension allows you to start a timer directly from Basecamp.

This creates a direct link from harvest to the relevant Basecamp todo or project, which is super helpful.

When you create an entry this way, unless the todo is fully descriptive of what you did (i.e. "Implement Webmaster Tools"), and you completed that todo fully, please override the description to provide further detail on what you did.

For example, if the task is "Set up Workshops", I could edit the description to be "Brainstormed ideas for workshops, sent to team"

Project vs. Client Relationship Management

Project management (Used to be "General Meetings & Emails") is billable time, defined as time spent creating the work product in some fashion. This can include emails, meetings, phone calls, shopping for required software/fonts, research, scheduling, etc.

Client Relationship Management is non-billable time spent on the client relationship. This includes legal paperwork, estimates (typically), billing, hours calculation, monthly retainer reports, etc.

The key question to determine which is which is whether your actions are advancing the project itself, or are necessary for attaining and keeping the client at large.