A director at a company I worked for mandated that all time-sheets be accurate to within 5 minutes for each task, so that future projects can be estimated accurately in terms of time and cost. There was an implied penalty if this was not followed. All 37.5 hours per week must be accounted for but nobodies time may exceed the allotted 37.5 hours.
My argument to him would be that timesheets, which do not factor in unpaid overtime (which a lot of us do), cannot be used to accurately gauge project cost and project time in the future, as overtime is not recorded on the timesheets.
Would I be correct in telling the company that their mandate is flawed as this leaves overtime unaccounted for? How can I professionally and politely bring this potential flaw to managements notice?
EDIT: Because there is some discussion over whether this question belongs here (not sure where else it could go on SE), perhaps that it leads to a bigger question not of "are timesheets accurate without unpaid overtime" but rather "why don't we record unpaid overtime" (which isn't a "navigating the workplace" question), I'll accept Philipp's answer as he makes some excellent points (especially about the pixies).
EXAMPLE: To keep the maths simple, let's say your team builds a website for a client.
- 3 people, one week.
- Each member puts 37.5 hours (standard working week) into the timesheet.
- You bill the client for 112.5 hours (at whatever rate you charge).
- Your cost is 112.5 hours (at whatever you pay your staff)
A second job comes in - an identical website. You quote for 112.5 hours at the same rate and promise it will be done in 1 week. However, you then find out that those 3 people worked 45 hours that previous week (7.5 hours was unpaid overtime), not 37.5, and this week they all finish work each day on time.
- 3 people, one week + 1 day (to make 45 hours each)
- You've quoted for 112.5 hours but...
- Your cost is 135 hours.
Same project, different costs.