Use of Timesheets Across Different Areas of Business

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 05/09/2022
use of timesheets

The purpose of this article is to inform business owners of all the benefits the use of timesheets offers to different areas of their business. It can also be used by managers and ops directors as an informative piece to help persuade the stakeholders into adopting a digital time tracking tool.



The saying ‘time is money’ is as old as time itself. However, the reason why it remains in use centuries later is that it is true. So, let us ask you this: when you do accounting, you are effectively keeping track of your money. Why wouldn’t you keep track of your time if they are the same? From delivering client work to paying the employees, you essentially either get paid or pay for time.

But even if you have some time tracking measures in place, they aren’t made equal. In the era of modern technology, volumes of both work and data we are subjected to on daily basis grow, and therefore older approaches are not just ineffective but also hindering. So, if you are still relying on paper timesheets or Excel spreadsheets for keeping tabs on the time/money ratio - you are not doing it right. 

The problem with these solutions is that while they do the job, they are not designed to support the data overload of today. This is why you shouldn’t count on them to serve you long-term and instead look at more innovative tools, created with today’s standards in mind. We are, of course, talking about SaaS solutions. When tracking time via cloud-based specialist tools, not only will you keep a close eye on your time and money - you will also be able to improve your business performance overall.


Why is Time Tracking Important?

Some companies, especially in startup phases, are hesitant of employing time tracking due to seeing it as ‘micro managing’. Unless they drop this mindset, they are not likely to ever drop the status of a ‘new player’ for they won’t be able to scale. To put it briefly, you can’t make good use of your time unless you know where it is going. 

Time tracking has little to do with controlling what your employees put their hours into (if done right). It’s rather a tool designed for employers to analyse how time expenditure compares to revenue generated, spotting potential risk areas and opportunities to improve. Without such analysis, a business will eventually hit the wall preventing its further growth.

The key reason the absence of an effective time tracking practice in place stagnates business growth is that companies often underestimate how much time will they really need when taking new projects on. Having a centralised location storing timesheets provides historical data that allows them better estimates based on past experience with similar tasks. In other words - timekeeping helps your business stop bleeding money. 

No matter the size of the organisation, it’s always a good idea to employ time tracking. From keeping tabs on the overall performance to smoothening a plethora of operations, the benefits of the use of timesheets spread across a variety of business areas. Some are less obvious than others. In this article, we will prove to you that if time tracking isn’t part of your strategy - it must be. And you should opt in for a digitalised approach. 

Timesheets for Process Accuracy 

One key reason why timesheets are such a valuable asset is the fact they are the means of storing data. In the digital world, not only can such data be used for analysis, but also be fed into other software solutions that will then aid your process automation efforts by basing them on historical metrics rather than guestimations. Additionally, using means like software integrations, the data would be transferred across the solutions with a simple click. Not only would this be quicker but also serve as a layer of protection against the infamous human error. Manual data entry often leads to accidental mistakes - and they can skew your processes up.

Effortless Client Invoicing

Things are pretty stressful and sensitive when it comes to finances, and charging your clients for the services provided falls into the category. Depending on your services, rates and whatnot, invoicing can be a gruesomely long and dull process. What’s worse is that when handled manually, it’s prone to human error. There are two sides to a coin when it comes to mistakes in client invoicing: and you lose in both cases. In the first scenario, you undercharge them and lose their money. In the second one, you overcharge them and make them question your honesty. Most importantly, in both cases, you lose what matters the most - their trust. 

Basically, all the hours you spend crunching the invoices are equivalent to Russian roulette. Instead of doing that, your best bet is to get a digital time tracking solution that will automatically pull the data recorded and use it to generate the invoices. Most such solutions can be programmed to also distribute the invoices to your clients, again saving you time otherwise wasted on sending emails. You might be thinking this is not the right approach for you as you give different rates based on various factors - if so, we are to address it in the next section.

Addressing Differiating Rates

No matter what industry you operate in, it’s very unlikely you charge the same price for everything. Alternatively, even if you work in a sector where you don’t charge the client for time but still pay the employees at the hourly rate, different shifts or tasks may be compensated at a different rate. This is often the key reservation we come across when the use of timesheets is being brought up. It’s not like it’s entirely wrong: it is very true if you’re tracking time on paper or Excel sheets as then calculations can get very messy, overly complex and take literal hours on end. A digital timesheet solution, on the other hand, comes with no such issue. 

Most of the online timesheet software has literally been developed to fill the above-described gaps. It, therefore, allows you to set up how it runs and processes time tracking based on your specific needs. For example, in Timesheet Portal you can fully customise your timesheets and rates by using factors such as time, compensation, deliverables and many others. Our interface is also designed to be intuitive and easy to use, so programming the setup you require doesn’t require a specialist. But even then, if you run into an issue or aren’t sure how to adjust the software to your needs - we are always happy to assist. 

Quick and Detailed Reporting

Everyone knows that reporting is absolutely vital for any business. However, it’s quite an umbrella term when you think about it since reports present different types of data and metrics, collected from different places and put in different contexts. One thing that’s true for all types of reports is that they can be very time consuming to put together, especially if you need to key the data in from multiple sources. Similarly to invoicing, manual data entry leads to an increased chance of human error and since reports form the cornerstone for decision making, inaccurate numbers can lead to major losses. Another bottleneck is that often reports are time-sensitive. Not only does rushing in order to meet the deadline further heighten the chance of mistakes, but it also prevents you from digging deeper into data. This way you are potentially missing out on opportunities that can be a very low-hanging fruit. 

So, what do timesheets have to do with reporting, you may ask? Well, reporting on your team’s time expenditure is one of the most important reports your company may have as it will help you address multiple areas of the business: performance, ROI, communication, etc. When using time tracking software, you won’t have to make these highly informative reports yourself - the tool will give them to you within seconds. Additionally, modern timesheet solutions, depending on the vendor,  can be integrated with other software you use, this way effortlessly transferring the data across the platforms. At Timesheet Portal, we allow our users to either use one of many pre-built report templates or to create their own detailed insight summary using a drag-and-drop system with over 40 trackable metrics.  

Timesheets for Team Management

Although the use of timesheets can significantly improve internal processes, they are also highly beneficial tools for improving your team’s performance. We have previously discussed that timesheet software has the power to improve your office culture but it's far from its only contribution to building team alignment. We will below explain how the use of digital timesheets can help your team’s performance skyrocket. 

Smoother Approval Workflows

The approval process isn’t complicated in theory - even when it involves multiple steps. However, it gets rather convoluted in practice, mostly because due to its simplicity it’s rare for people to treat it with priority. Unless addressed immediately, requests for approval tend to get lost in inboxes, messengers or become the phone conversations one had forgotten to have. In other words, the process stops and prevents other processes from running. Given how busy the approving party tends to get with other tasks, there’s little to no wonder something as little is being treated as non-priority and potentially forgotten, then snowballing into massive delays and declining performance across all departments. But there is a solution as simple as the approval process to it - a digital timesheet platform. 

The issue with timesheet approval specifically begins with the fact that often workers don’t submit them on time. A timesheet software, depending on the vendor’s proposed functionality, can sometimes assist you at this very starting point by sending automated reminders to the workers their sheets haven’t been filled in. Once the hours are submitted, the approver gets notified via email; and can either approve or reject the submission without leaving the inbox. With more parties involved in the process, the second approver will only be notified if the timesheet has been approved and their input is needed. The rejection can be accompanied by a note, letting the submitter know what needs to be fixed before re-submission. Such an approach to timesheet approval workflows not only streamlines the process on different stages but also saves the approvers time they’d otherwise waste correcting them.

Visibility and Alignment

Another workflow built with timesheets, especially valuable for projects that involve outsourced workers that are required to function as a team, is that of communication. If your workers are siloed by either being independent contractors or simply working from different locations and on a flexible time model, their alignment might suffer due to a lack of visibility. It leads to delayed projects, budgets burnt on needlessly repeated tasks, incorrect forecasts due to data not being shared and time estimates being guessed rather than based on previous results. In other words, it poses a risk of both: dissatisfied clients and workers. 

A time tracking solution, whether in the shape of timesheets or a time recorder, can grant visibility to all the parties involved where their colleagues are progress-wise. Most timesheet platforms offer a centralised location at which documents with time-related data are based; they can then be browsed using filters that are unique to every provider. For example, one can view timesheets related to a particular project, of a specific worker, for the specific days they need, etc. If the project relies on hours worked rather than the deliverables, the system can be utilised as a workflow automation tool to notify the next step executive it’s their turn to take over. Continuous reviewal of team timesheets can also highlight who may be struggling, therefore letting other workers jump to their aid.

Growing Productivity

To utilise your time to the fullest, you must first have a firm understanding of where it’s going. Using digital timesheets or a time tracking app will give you such insights. Having all time spent carrying out specific tasks documented will make it easy to analyse the current state of your team’s productivity. It will also highlight which areas use up most of your team’s time, empowering you to review what are your options to make them less time-consuming. In other words, when you use timesheets to track your progress as well as your performance, it becomes easier to recognise the gaps within your strategy you would otherwise remain oblivious of.

From there, you can begin coming up with a solution. Most of the issues spotted through timesheet analysis are related to inefficient processes rather than the fault of the workers. And the majority of the time it can be improved by introducing automation. While some of the processes can’t be fully automated and will require human involvement, the parts entrusted to machines will free up a significant amount of time for your workers. This time can then be repurposed on more progress-orientated tasks rather than repetitive manual work. All in all, while the timesheet solutions themselves don’t contribute to driving productivity up, it’s the insights obtained through these tools that do. Not only does it point out areas to improve on but, depending on the software, can help you free up the workforce you’ll need for this and other productivity-driving tasks.

Better Business with Timesheet Portal

As we have stated in the beginning, while acknowledging the importance of time tracking is an important first step - it’s not the only one. Using the correct tools plays a role that’s just as big, simply because old-school solutions are not capable to meet the required standards of today’s landscape. Paper timesheets and Excel spreadsheets might have once been the best pratice, but nowadays they would only hinder your progress. The time tracking technology of today is cloud-based SaaS solutions. Such as Timesheet Portal.

We offer our customers a wide range of functionality to support their efforts with the use of timesheets across different areas of business. From client invoice automation to a holiday management platform, we will assist you in optimising both internal and external processes that involve time. Our wide range of integrations also makes us compatible with other tools you use, such as accounting packages like Xero or Quickbooks. On top of that, we offer two products: standard and recruitment-orientated ones. Due to the huge selection of features, we allow our clients to build their own package: this way they only pay for the functionality they actually use as opposed to software filled with irrelevant features. We thrive on your success; and we, therefore, see it as our priority. 

Key Takeaway 

There are many misconceptions regarding the practice of time tracking or the use of timesheets, often deeming them to be not just abundant but even unethical. Thinking that can be very damaging to a business, not only because it couldn’t be further from the truth, but also because both are, in fact, crucial for a business to grow and scale. After all, time spent working on deliverables is often more valuable than the said deliverables. 

Therefore having visibility of your company’s use of time, as well as understanding it, helps you address different business elements. It allows you to identify communication bottlenecks, processes that take a lot of time without being very significant to the growth and many more. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that outdated ways of doing so, such as Excel spreadsheets, will bring more harm than good. 

This is why we highly recommend investing in a SaaS solution for timesheets. Intuitive and easy to use, not only will such a tool make timesheet management easy, but also aid you in bettering other processes that depend on time-related data: payroll, accounting, team management and others. The timekeeping technology has come a long way since paper timesheets - and not utilising that wouldn’t be fair on yourself. 

It’s time you embrace the innovation and use it to get better control of your hours. Ready to take this step? Timesheet Portal is waiting for you

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