Timesheet Software for Manufacturing Projects

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 14/11/2022
timesheet software for manufacturing

We want to address project managers and business owners of manufacturing companies. Your back office processes need to be updated. Sooner or later, you’ll be left with no other choice but to innovate. In this detailed article, we will try and help you take the first steps in the right direction by introducing the benefits of timesheet software.




Process automation is steadily taking over the world. Living in the digital era, with extra fuel added by a global pandemic, everything is seemingly going down the digitisation route. It is more than understandable - entrusting machines with manual labour frees up a lot of time for humans to work on tasks that require their judgement. If anything, the manufacturing industry should understand that the best. 

Alas, the situation is quite the opposite. Digital transformation is particularly slow in the manufacturing sector, and there are many reasons for that. From digital skill shortage to being inflexible to innovation, many projects aimed at digitisation fail. Bearing high costs and low success rates, they pose an unattractive prospect. Therefore most companies are hesitant to do as much as try for fear of failure. 

But this mindset is very harmful, to both businesses and the world. Truth is, we heavily rely on the good performance of manufacturing companies to sustain our current lifestyles and further evolution as a modern society. This is why it’s important for them to let off the past and move along with the progress of today instead of opposing it. And in this article, we hope to lay a path for the manufacturers to take that first step by replacing traditional time tracking solutions with digital timesheets.

The Manufacturing Industry is Falling Behind

Despite being the driving force of creating the era of the industrial world we know today, the manufacturing industry has long lost its title of the innovator. If anything, it would seem an industry that has changed history is now frozen in time. Although the equipment used itself has been evolving to match the production demands the world of today demands, the other aspects are very slow to adapt to today’s environment. 

Always being heavily focused on machinery, the manufacturing sector hasn’t paid much mind to digitisation - and the current rigid state of the industry is the direct consequence of that. Just like it has once driven the major changes in labour standards, the industry is currently falling short due to a lack of flexibility when adopting digitisation.

Simply put, a human alone is unable to meet the production demands of today. Most of the manufacturing machinery was invented for the same reason, and while it continues fulfilling its duty, it’s the human factor that stalls the process again. The problem is that while manual labour is easily taken care of, higher than ever volumes of demand are now straining the human side of things, making it slower and more prone to errors.

With it growing to be a bigger problem each day, the industry has finally braced itself to embrace the change. However, there is a clear uncertainty on how to begin transitioning now, when the sector is far behind. A good place to start would be a simple yet powerful solution: timesheet software. Now, let us elaborate.

Transforming the Workplace 

Digital transformation is not just a buzzword - it’s a mandatory step every business needs to take in order to scale, progress and remain competitive. The manufacturing industry is no exception. While its name suggests the transformation mostly covers internal processes by handing them to digital solutions, it’s important to note that it begins and fully depends on the mindset of your team. You can only be successful in this journey if you understand why you’re starting it, what benefits it bears and that it’s not a one-off thing to do but a continuous process of its own.

Use Your Time Wisely

Time is money, and you don’t want to lose either. The formula for success is relatively simple - you need to know where your time is going and how much is it worth. With that visibility, you can then start cutting costs by speeding the processes up. Unfortunately, it’s more complicated in practice than it is in theory. Tracking time is only simple at the first glance. How you may ask? Well, think of it - how often do employees forget to fill the timesheets? How often are they not sent on time, or need to be corrected? How long does it take to spot and correct a mistake of a single wrongly typed digit in Excel? You get the gist. 

So here’s the main roadblock: you may not be tracking your time efficiently, and it reflects in your cash flow and decision-making abilities. Fortunately, the solution is easy: you need to ditch Excel spreadsheets and paper timesheets, instead opting for timesheet software. It minimises manual input, automates the process of submission calculations and lets you set unique rules applicable to your specific payroll requirements. In other words, it will track time for you in a way you need it, gathering valuable data. And based on it, you will have a clearer idea of what your time should be used on.

Smart Resource Management and Allocation

Once you identify what processes eat up the most time, you can start digging deeper into them. In-depth analysis is likely to result in the discovery of areas that can be automated, therefore allowing you to pull workers out of specific parts of the process. Instead of having their time and effort wasted on repetitive tasks that are aimed at maintenance rather than progress, you will then be able to allocate assignments more worthy of their input. Not only will such an approach save you both time and money, but it will also boost your team’s performance and, in a long run, your company’s growth. 

An important note is that the more you do it - the better you become. Utilising timesheet software when analysing manufacturing projects will result in thorough reports that won’t just summarise whether your new approach was successful, but also highlight potential new opportunities to optimise further. In other words, you will ultimately never stop improving as long as you keep experimenting with automation. For an industry like manufacturing that is rigid and unwelcome of innovation, this offers an easy way to stay on top of digitisation.

Control the Workflow

Similarly to how you programme the machines, you get to programme human-centric processes. Of course, we don’t mean you will get to alter the behaviour or performance quality of your staff via technology - but you can certainly speed their work up. Timesheet software does more than simply record time, especially if it’s a features-rich solution like Timesheet Portal. Our platform significantly reduces the number of steps required when processing the submitted timesheets from the very moment they come through. We grant our users the power of building complex yet quick approval processes, which begin with them receiving email notification of a new submission. All they need to do then is to either approve or reject the timesheet, both done with but a click right from their inbox. Additionally, especially when rejecting, you can also add a note to explain your decision, urging the submitter to correct their error as opposed to doing it yourself. 

Additionally, you can build workflows for processes like expense claims, something many manufacturing businesses seem to struggle with. Our platform allows bulk upload of receipts, turns physical copies into digitalised versions and is available on the go across all devices. Combine it with the approval workflow, and you no longer have to dread calculating the expenses. The same principle works with holiday requests, contractor invoices and many more. In other words, a timesheet software, while primarily focusing on time tracking, is actually making the data you feed into it useable in multiple parts of your business. 

Optimising for the Future

As pointed out earlier, digital transformation never truly stops. This means that as you optimise it going along, you’ll be discovering new data that will then feed into further improvements. All in all, your goal is to carry on moving forward - and if you keep progressing, you’re doing it right. So, let’s see what specific processes you should turn your attention to as early as possible to make them a cornerstone of your success moving forward.

Calculating Irregular Rates

Most manufacturing companies have both, shift and salaried workers. This may make you think timesheet software will only be applicable for the former as they are the ones who need to fill the timesheets. Well, this is not quite true - we’ve already spoken about its involvement in expense, holiday and contractor management, all three of which are processes back office employees deal with. However, salaried workers are usually on the easier side of payment processing as they have a set salary minus the occasional travel or office expenses. It’s trickier with hourly workers as the rate they are on may differ depending on a plethora of factors: expertise, location, task, day of the week, time of the day and many others. Not to mention, depending on the contract, they will often need to be compensated for the overtime.

Unlike paper timesheets that put an enormous workload on your accounting department when trying to calculate all these intricacies or even Excel spreadsheets that are both slow and prone to error, timesheet software is up for the task. For example, at Timesheet Portal you can create different templates for different criteria and the usual rules applied when calculating a specific rate will be applied automatically. Additionally, if you connect your accounting packages with the platform via integrations, these different calculated timesheets will be exported directly into them with a mere click. As you can see, this is a more intuitive way that involves both reduced human error factors and the time it would take you to run manual calculations.

Productivity Boost

Believe it or not, but timesheets can be an excellent tool to boost your productivity. As previously discussed, they help you discover less efficient processes, creating an opportunity to address them - but that’s not all. Time-tracking software can also be utilised as a collaboration platform. Although you and your team won’t be able to use it as a messenger, it will still serve as a great communication channel. Simply put, by granting your teams visibility of one another’s progress, you will enable them to quickly identify what areas are falling behind, lack resources or require support. This will grant you, a project manager, a more hands-off approach.

A fun fact to note is that it’s been found that multitasking without tracking one’s time leads to a 45% decrease in productivity. There are many factors for that: outside distractions, lack of accountability, and 44% of employees are even prone to…Interrupting themselves! You won’t see this reflected on paper timesheets nor will it be something an Excel file can record; however these things can be effectively captured by timesheet software. The sensitivity and detailing will largely depend on the solution and its capacity. For example, at Timesheet Portal we make it difficult to falsify one’s timesheets and nearly impossible to engage in practices of buddy punching and time theft. A cherry on top is that your approvers will no longer need to spend hours correcting the submitted timesheets either - the rejected timesheets will need to be corrected and re-submitted by the employees themselves. 

Full Analysis in Minutes

Finally, what’s the point of gathering data if you cannot analyse it? Given we are in the age of data overload, not only does it need to be understood, but also filtered and segmented. This, given the volumes of data captured every second, is pretty much impossible to do manually. Think about it - it will, on average, take you 2-3 days to clean the data of a specific period. Another 2-3 days will likely be spent putting it into a comprehensible report. By the time you get to actually analysing it, you will already be flooded by a new load of data that will require the same processing time. In other words, you will never truly progress as you will be constantly behind and steadily accumulating a backlog despite putting your time and effort into the task. Reporting is no longer something humans can do. 

This is why software solutions nowadays come with reporting tools of their own. Cloud-based SaaS tools will normally greet you with a dashboard as you log into the platform, highlighting the key metrics. While it’s not a one-fits-all feature, the majority of digital solutions allow you to customise the said dashboard, so the highlights you see will be the ones that matter to you. You can access more in-depth data analysis, presented in visual and digestible format by asking the software to generate a report. Since all the data is already in, due to the solution having collected it, the process will take mere seconds. If the tool is also integrated with others, the depth of the report will expand accordingly as it will now contain data coming from different sources. At Timesheet Portal, we even allow you to build your own report templates - and there is no limit on how many can you have. 

Finding the Right Timesheet Software

Having made it this far through this article, you have most likely acknowledged the importance of digital transformation and how timesheet software can make all the difference to your manufacturing projects. You might have even gone ahead of time and run a quick research of what options are out there. Well, if you haven’t, let us tell you that the market is very saturated and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the countless number of solutions available. Your industry being pretty niche, however, will be working in your favour here.

Manufacturing as a market is pretty specific, and looking up solutions specialising in it can help you narrow the list down. However, don’t limit yourself by only paying mind to specialists. Some vendors, like Timesheet Portal, are designed to cater to a wide range of sectors. Our Project solution can be used across a number of industries, including manufacturing. In fact, we have a lot of experience in the sector and are therefore well-versed in its unique needs, packing our software with features to better your operations. From time and resource management to detail-heavy expense procedures and in-depth reporting, we are ready to guide you towards the new era of manufacturing. 

Key Takeaway 

The manufacturing industry is certainly behind on digitisation. While some argue it’s a sector that relies on process automation and couldn’t function without it, they are talking about on-site operations. The back office, on the other hand, suffers from a lack of innovation. And since the industry is so niche, there aren’t many solutions aimed at it specifically; those that exist are often equally outdated. 

But the truth is, you don’t particularly need a massive tech stack to run a manufacturing business. Instead of trying to pack it with as many tools, simply turn your attention to less complex yet more multi-functional solutions. For example - timesheet software. A single tool will easily cover and smoothen multiple areas of manufacturing projects, from pay & bill to attendance to holiday management. 

Manufacturing is a solid cornerstone of our progress as humankind, and therefore as society evolves it must grow alongside us. Further negligence will result in a growing inability to meet today’s demands, which will in turn lead us to catastrophe. The time to bring change is now and you’re in a position to drive it. Make your life easier, your team’s performance better and the world of the future brighter. 

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Timesheet Portal online software provided by Anfold Software Ltd, a registered company in the UK.