TWIG Advisor

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

Time cost

There is a recognised and accepted adage in business that ‘Time is money’. This generally refers to using time to the greatest effect and not wasting on unnecessary tasks or procrastination. However, a lesser noticed but potentially damaging problem, with managing time and cost, can be over-servicing clients. In essence, this is where additional time and resources are spent on a project, which were not factored into the quote. A fee or cost may be agreed at the outset, but over-servicing may mean you are essentially giving away your time and expertise for nothing.

How to spot an over-serviced client

Going ‘above and beyond’ expectations for their clients is something most businesses are proud of. However, regularly going over the time agreed on a project, or supplying additional services at no extra cost, will have a negative impact on profitability and may even cause that project to run at a loss.

The signs to look out for include:

  • Runaway hours spent on the project
  • Additional staff being brought in to assist
  • More senior, higher paid staff getting involved
  • Clients adding additional requirements
  • Deadlines being brought forward, putting a strain on resources

What can we do to stop this?

Firstly, recognise where this is occurring and try to identify why. I can work at any stage in a project to assess how best to keep this under control, either from the beginning, midway through, or analyse retrospectively and make sure the situation doesn’t reoccur.

My work involves setting up systems to accurately cost-up a project and monitoring the time spent against the cost quoted. This includes:

  • Accurately assessing the time needed to complete the work, i.e. hours and number of people working
  • Having a clear definition of what will be delivered – from the moment the brief is received from the client
  • Ensuring a clear paper trail exists as the project evolves
  • Recognising requests outside of the initial remit and charging accordingly
  • Looking at ways to delegate work to less senior staff where possible

Over-serviced clients can be damaging to both parties; the more obvious loss of profit, but also the eventual need to increase costs on future projects to cover this, which can be damaging to client relations.

Most people are happy to operate within an agreement, which is fair and reasonable and will respect a company that is transparent in striving to achieve this.


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