We use Tock to track our time.
To facilitate our fee-for-service business model, 18F has developed its own timekeeping application called Tock. You can access Tock by visiting tock.18f.gov, and I personally recommend bookmarking it for easy reference.
18F’s business model is based on billing for time logged to a project. Every expense – salaries, benefits, GSA overhead, MacBooks, all-hands events, and so on – is paid for by our billing, which is recorded by each person in Tock.
We track each and every project in Tock. When you’re assigned to a project, make sure to get clear instructions from your supervisor or project lead on which category to track your time in Tock — we want to make sure we bill the correct client!
Tock looks like this:
You must manually submit your timecard each week, and your hours each week must total exactly 40 (with the exception of partial weeks that may occur at the end of the fiscal year in September). To submit a timecard, choose the correct week for your entries from the list on the homepage, enter your time based on the projects you worked for that week, and click submit.
Timecards are due by the end of day (close of business) on Friday. If you fail to submit your timecard on time, your manager will bug you until you get it done! Timecards for the current week should be available no later than Monday at 9AM PST.
Creating Tock Projects
There are two kinds of Tock projects, billable and non-billable. Tock projects can only be created by 18F Operations staff. Request the creation of a project in #tock.
Non-billable activities/projects can be requested by any person in 18F. When requested, the requester should provide: * A suggested title * A 2-3 sentence description of the project/activity. * Validation this project will not become billable. * An expiration date for the project/activity, not to exceed the end of the fiscal year. * The 18F Director of Operations must approve the creation of all non-billable activities/projects.
Billable projects can only be created after an agreement has been signed. 18F Operations staff will create the project using the following information provided from the Business Unit responsible for the project: * A title, with the business unit name and client name as the leading part of the title. * A 2-3 sentence description of the project. * The name of the project manager for the project.
Carefully track and record your work at 18F. Some 18F colleagues use software such as Toggl or Hours to do this. Others have created templates in Google Sheets to record their weekly time. Feel free to make a copy of this template and use it for yourself.
You should track time spent on each billable project separately. In addition, you should split out certain entries for non-billable work. Here’s a quick cheat-sheet on common non-billable time entries:
General: Recurring team meetings, such as the weekly all-hands, team huddles and team training sessions. Also, travel time to and from D.C. for billable meetings. If you work on something during transit (say, on the airplane), bill that to the appropriate project, but if you’re just in transit, that goes in General.
Outreach: Writing blog posts, responding to requests for 18F engagement, and more.
- Every non-billable hour you log is paid for by an increase in the overhead rates attached to all billable projects, so be careful on how much you spend on non-billable projects. If you think the work you’re doing should be billable, jump into #seeds to talk about how to find funding.
Whenever you take “leave” — be that vacation time, holiday time, sick time, or another type of leave — you should log it as one of the “Out of Office” categories in Tock (listed below). If your leave begins prior to the release of a timecard (before Wednesday), please send your manager an email with your time entries and they will ensure they are entered. For longer leave requests, make sure you have your time entered on the “18F Out of Office” Google calendar — Ops tracks those entries and will enter your time. If you don’t enter extended leave in the “18F Out of Office” calendar Ops won’t know you are out, won’t enter your time, and you will be delinquent.
The Out of Office options in Tock reflect categories of leave used in ALOHA. This will make reconciliation of Tock and ALOHA much easier, and more accurately track our time.
Annual Leave Tock your time here when you are using your Annual Leave. Make sure you’ve completed an ALOHA Request.
Sick Leave Tock your time here when you are using your Sick Leave for Illness, Family Medical Leave, or Bereavement. Make sure you’ve completed an ALOHA Request.
Compensatory Time Used Tock your time here when you are using your Comp Time you’ve been officially granted through the comp time process. Make sure you’ve completed an ALOHA Request.
Court Leave (Jury Duty) Tock your time here when you are using your Court Leave for things like Jury Duty. Make sure to notify your timekeeper.
Award Leave Tock your time here when you are using your Award Leave granted to you as an award by GSA. Make sure you’ve completed an ALOHA Request.
Leave Without Pay Tock your time here when you are using Leave Without Pay. Make sure you’ve completed an ALOHA Request.
Administrative/Holiday Leave Tock your time here when employees are granted official leave (i.e. early release, snow, or holiday) from the GSA Administrator/President. No ALOHA Request is required.
Donated Leave Used Tock your time here when you are using leave donated to you. Make sure you’ve completed an ALOHA Request.
Other Tock your time here if you are away from the office and not performing duties but it does not fit in any of the previous 8 categories, please record that time here as well as making a note of what you were doing during that time.
Why is my list of “Reporting Periods You Need to Fill Out” really long?
Tock likely doesn’t have your start date listed correctly. To fix this:
- Click on the Users link.
- Find and click on your name in the list of Tock users. (Your email address should be a clickable link.)
- Enter your Employment Start Date as the day you started at 18F.
- Click Update.
- Now that long list of reports to fill out should be gone.
How do I change a reporting period I already filled out?
Ping us in #tock. We’ll help you out.
What if I’m so busy that I cannot fit everything I need to do within 40 hours per week?
You should immediately contact your supervisor. They will be able to provide you guidance on managing your workload and may be able to help you obtain additional compensation (typically in the form of leave) if you are working extra hours.
When does the weekly reporting begin and end?
The weekly time reporting period lasts one week, beginning on Sunday and ending on Saturday.
What is the deadline for submitting my weekly timesheet?
Each Friday by close of business (COB), local time, at the end of the weekly reporting period. For example, if the weekly periods ends on Saturday, June 26, then complete your timesheet by COB on Friday, June 25. If Friday is a holiday, then you’ll be expected to complete your timecard by the first workday following.
How granular should my time reporting be?
As granular as you want! Tock accepts decimal points on hours.
How should I bill travel?
The time you spend figuring out travel plans is billable to the project you are traveling for. Travel time for projects that is approved by the partner agency should be billed to the client.
How should I bill email?
Some 18F colleagues suggest chunking your email time so it’s easier to keep track of when you’re dealing with email from each project. Others use their “sent” messages as a means to determine how much time they spent emailing (per project).
What are some examples of activities that I should typically charge time to a client project?
- Core delivery work (e.g., UX or development)
- Client communications (e.g., email or phone conversations)
- Travel time to and from client site
- Pre-IAA work (e.g., business development) if it exceeds more than a few hours
How do I request paid time off (e.g., annual leave, sick leave, comp time)?
Use the GSA System ALOHA and select your supervisor from the drop-down menu. You can also consult additional guidance on GSA’s InSite (you need to be connected to the GSA network to access).
What are some examples of activities that are not client-billable?
- 18F-specific meetings (e.g., the weekly all-hands meeting)
- Events that aren’t related to a particular project
- GSA HR activities (e.g., mandatory training)
Should I record time spent on projects that I’m not officially assigned to?
Yes! We don’t promise our partners specific people. That enables anyone to scrub in quickly for any project at any time so we can stay flexible. That said, please check in with that project’s engagement manager before you do anything substantial, because they are responsible for managing the project’s budget.
Tell me more about why we have to bill our time
- 18F’s current funding source is based exclusively on the amount of revenue we can generate from our clients in other parts of the federal government.
- Labor is usually the largest portion of the cost of the services 18F provides. Based on our flexible delivery model, you may be working on multiple projects concurrently, and accurate time accounting is critical to generating auditable client invoices.
- Understanding how people work across multiple projects provides 18F as a whole with insight into areas where we might be over or under capacity.
- Understanding the actual labor costs required to deliver projects will help us prepare more accurate cost estimates for similar projects in the future.
- Tracking time spent on a project, and thus labor costs, will allow us to gauge how quickly funds are being spent relative to the allocated amount under the IAA. If a project seems to burning funds quicker than expected, for example, there may be underlying causes (e.g., lost efficiencies) that require attention.
Still have questions?
Ask in Slack: #tock