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Utilisation targets (ignore 34647/8)

#1 Utilisation targets (ignore 34647/8)
17/09/2007 21:08


Rightly or wrongly, many of us are judged on utilsation for performance appraisal (and pay, and bonus) purposes.

I've been working on a long-term assignment for most of this year. I've been consistently working 50+ hours at the client site. But my assignment manager (who is also my line manager) won't let me record all the hours on the assignment.

If I was allowed to record all my client hours I reckon I'd be on 140% utilisation this year - well ahead of the rest of my grade.

I haven't got a decent reason from my boss why I can't record all my hours. What should I do about this and is it worth rocking the boat?

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#2 RE: Utilisation targets (ignore 34647/8)
17/09/2007 22:36

Errrmmm to grunt (#1)

This will either be a question of:

- billing time to the client which will probably be fixed


- the European working time directive

Keep a track of your hours but remember to make sure that they are constructive and demonstrable in terms of deliverables.

You can then raise this at review time.

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#3 RE: Utilisation targets (ignore 34647/8)
18/09/2007 08:44

The Senior Vice President to Errrmmm (#2)

Sadly, some firms are like this. They like their staff to record an 8 hour day on their timesheet, despite the fact that these staff may in fact (and for the kinds of companies that engage in this practice, probably are) working closer to 15 hour days.

If everyone else is putting 8 hours on their timesheet regardless of what they actually work, then my advice would be to go with the flow and do the same. They'll judge you at your appraisal on % of working days billable rather than % of working hours. In these kinds of companies, they just expect you to work long hours. Why they record 8 hours is beyond me... maybe so everything fits nicely into their little accounting system and budget reports or so that they can show the HSE that they aren't engaging in dodgy HR practices?

If it's only you and your team that's working silly hours, then you need to make sure you get some recognition for it. If your manager is the sort to speak up for you at appraisal time, then it may be worth doing him a favour. If he's the sort that wouldn't blink an eyelid if he found out that you were being 'counselled out' then I suggest you need to take action, and fast. Get staffed on another project, whine about it to HR, or just ride it out and make sure you don't work with him again in the future.

My main advice however would be to remember that slavery has been abolished for a long time now, and an employment contract is a 2-way deal. What are you getting out of it? Do a cost-benefit analysis and look at other options. Don't be afraid to apply to other companies which have a more humane approach to managing their staff - sometimes, the grass really is greener! I worked for a MBB firm for several years and used to dream about working for the client. The pay was almost as good, and they worked half the hours! They were nicer people too (less competitive/pushy). They also didn't have massive job insecurity, unreasonable travel and unrealistic expectations of what their staff are supposed to achieve like the firm I worked for did.

Also, in my experience, the 'killer projects' (the ones which are constantly pulling 'all nighters' and so on) are the ones that invariably fail. If the whole firm works this way, why not freshen up your CV and put the wheels in motion for bailing out? Does your firm have an 'up or out' policy? If so, you may do well to beat them to the gate and move on before you're pushed (which, statistically, will be very likely within a few years).

Every cloud has a silver lining - and this may be a prompt to get you looking at greener pastures? There's more to life than slaving away in Brussels/Hamburg/whichever faraway boring city you've been staffed at for 85 hours a week in front of PowerPoint for £45k a year, you know!

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#4 RE: Utilisation targets (ignore 34647/8)
18/09/2007 08:49

anon to The Senior Vice President (#3)

we record a standard amount of hours which we always work more than but as a result the client is quite flexible about us doing our own company related things we need time off for as a result.

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#5 RE: Utilisation targets (ignore 34647/8)
18/09/2007 09:02

The Senior Vice President to anon (#4)

Ahh, I see - a bodyshop. Why else would the client be bothered about hours worked rather than project outcomes (providing you're accurately recording and billing for true hours worked)? I've been there in the past - not a pleasant working environment when you effectively have two employers (it sounds like the 'client' in this case is more of an 'employer'?).

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#6 RE: Utilisation targets (ignore 34647/8)
18/09/2007 11:38

ACA at consulting firm to The Senior Vice President (#5)

It sounds like your firm are confusing billability with utilisation. The hours worked and the hours billed to the client can be two different things - I'm sure you'll come across plenty of ocassions when more hours are billed to the client than are actually worked!

And it would sound like your firm won't understand how much effort assignments and clients are taking up. Overruns will be hidden - bad pricing, bad project management and scope creep will be under the radar. That's likely to be the motivation of your manager and/or partner as it would blow their metrics (stuff your metrics though!). Although its probably not personal or deliberate, I'm guessing this situation is typical in your firm?

I remember on my first day as a grad with a big 4 firm, we were told to record all our time no matter what - and to tell your line manager if anyone tries to make you do something different. It sounds like you're working in the exact opposite environment. That firm didn't bill by the hour - everything was fixed price.

I've worked for two consulting firms since and your scenario is perhaps typical if extreme.

If all the above isn't typical for your firm and time recording tends to be accurate, then it looks like you've got an HR problem and you'll need to do what the Senior Vice President advices in a previous post.

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#7 RE: Utilisation targets (ignore 34647/8)
18/09/2007 23:51

Grunt to ACA at consulting firm (#6)

Not recording time is typical at the company I'm at, although my specific situation is probably on the extreme side - at least compared to what I've personally experienced before.

So, are all consulting firms like this? All the responses so far seem to suggest that there is no greener grass.

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