by Elliot Christenson on September 20, 2017 - 1:44pm

All businesses have to track their income and expenses. That's the most fundamental axiom of business. We've all learned to think about this in terms of time or "billable hours" After-all, we track our success based on how many billable hours we either get paid or "save".

Is that working for you perfectly?

WTH is "Micro-Tracking" and Why is it Terrible?

I define "micro-tracking" as the "micro-managing of time and resources". We see a few things wrong with "micro-tracking" - specifically for support - but possibly other business expenses.

Do you bill clients by the minute? Even the hour?

It's almost always a terrible idea to watch the clock for support!

Below I'll attempt to outline a few of the downsides...

Issue 1: Time

The easiest to understand is the EXTRA time cost. For example, if a support task takes 5 minutes to communicate to the support employee, 5 minutes for the support employee to complete, and 10 minutes to document, how much time gets billed to the client? 10 minutes? 15 minutes? 20 minutes? Who decides? How do you decide?

Issue 2: Disputes

Do you like having disagreements with your customers? Do you like having disagreements with your vendors? Over an hour? Over a minute?

Wouldn't it be great to be looking at things from the bigger picture? With a more collaborative and less compative frame of mind? Wouldn't it be great to have your interests completely aligned with your clients?

Issue 3: Accuracy

This is very similar to the above. When we are tracked, it's human nature to round up! If you're caught going "62 in a 55*" , you're likely to say "Officer, respectfully, I think I was going 55!"

Customers round up (or down) - so do vendors. Don't you want to really know what you're spending - and why? Also, wouldn't you like to leave the discretion of time accuracy up to those with expertise? Ultimately, if you spend too much, you can't afford the service. Are you really getting a more accurate picture of your expenses if you "micro-track"?

Issue 4: Quality

Finally, the biggest issue: quality. Do you want to spend a minute putting a bandage on an issue or twenty minutes fixing the issue so it doesn't repeat? In the "micro-tracking" scenario, where everyone is fixated on minimizing work and time for a specific task, the answer is "spend a minute!"

We all know the real answer is to spend the twenty minutes. It's better for the support vendor to focus on the long-term lower amount of time, and it's in everyone's best interest to fix a security vulnerability or critical error rather than a bandage solution!

The How?

So, my title promised "how" you make this change. In general terms, a monthly flat-rate is best! For our Standard plan, myDropWizard promises an unlimited number of Drupal support requests.

Your first reaction is probably "That is crazy! What if someone asks you for 5000 support requests in a month?" The reality, however, is that it's in the best interest of the client and the vendor to not have to watch the clock so closely. Vendors shouldn't be skimping on best-practices and clients shouldn't be apprehensive of asking for help!

It works, but it does need to have some limits. In our example, we are limiting the support to "Drupal  Support and Maintenance". While I think flat-rate can be used much more widely, it is true that some limitations are necessary.

So No Billable Hours? Ever?

To be clear, there is a time and a place for billable hours. Larger projects need some sort of tracking of time and resources. Even myDropWizard tracks time for these largest projects.

We do support for small organizations and large organizations, and we love the fact that our interests are aligned with our clients in terms of time, collaboration and quality! We think you should think about it too!

*That's miles-per-hour for the non-U.S. metric system using world!

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