I have read in English what we already do in France for years in our firm.
As many of you, we believe difference makers inspire, innovate and improve our world. We want to be difference makers for our customers and for our people.
How are we doing that?
We do not bill our customers by the hour. In fact, we don’t even keep timesheets anymore. We have completely eliminated them for years.
In speaking with our colleagues, we mostly get two reactions:
1. “That’s really interesting, how are you doing it?”
2. “That will never work.”
Both reactions lead to great conversations. Personally, I’m really proud that we are seen as innovators. (Or crazy, as the case may be.)
How is this making a difference?
For one, we believe our customers want to pay for value received, not time spent. A customer doesn’t suddenly place more value on a compliance related activity just because their business advisor takes longer to complete it. By discussing the price up front and agreeing upon the scope of the work, there are no surprises. Many firms price engagements in advance–that’s not innovative. The question is, are they offering a price guarantee for a specific scope of services, or are they measuring all of their billable hours and then running back to the customer claiming that they have added additional value? Or worse, do they just bill for the “extra” work and hope the customer pays? I think most people would agree that customers don’t like to be surprised when they open their invoice each month. Imagine buying a new TV, having it delivered, and then the seller asks you to pay more money because the driver got lost on the way to your house and spent twice the estimated time in his truck.
For our people, we believe that they should be measured by more than the sum of their billable hours. For too long, knowledge workers in accounting firms and law firms have been judged and evaluated in large part by how many hours they billed. Are these productive hours? Who knows–they might be. We’d rather focus on output:
- did you meet the customer’s expectations?
- was the work completed on time?
- did you produce quality work?
- did you make a difference for the customer?
Taking billable hours out of the equation allows us to focus on these measures. At the end of the day, a customer does not care how long something took to produce unless it affects when the work is delivered. The internal measurements are irrelevant.
We hope we’re making a difference for our customers, our team members and our profession.