Essentially, a timesheet should be thought of as a means to track the different activities surrounding a particular job or client. These sheets could be in the form of paper slips, online tools, Excel documents, or similar. Employees are required to enter their time spent on any particular activity as they complete it, documenting each new task as they go along.
A timesheet helps to identify which clients or projects are profitable, and which are a drain on company resources. Time tracking practices also assist in documenting the effectiveness of certain project management principles as well as analyzing employee performance and revenue recognition.
Payroll, billing, and financial statements all rely on the presence of accurate timesheets. By keeping track of employee activity, companies are able to accurately calculate overhead rates as well as project scope control. At the same time, accurate timesheets enable companies to calculate billing costs for additional services.
Accurate time keeping leads to better business decisions and improved resource management. The creation of accurate historical data and analysis also assists in superior estimating and bidding procedures. Of course, accurate timesheet data and employee performance tracking assists in better HR management, which is always great for the management of cash flow.
The tedium of filling in a timesheet is probably the biggest hurdle for employees to overcome. Nothing is quite as frustrating as taking time out of your day to fill in banal forms that seem to take a huge chunk out of your productivity for the day. When there is already a large amount of work on your plate, you hardly feel compelled to waste time on something else.
As such, most people will put off filling in their timesheets until the absolute last minute. Those last few moments before they dash out of the office doors on a Friday moment will be reserved for filling out those sheets in a hurry. This means that employees will often forget the full range of work they completed during the week, and inevitably making up figures to fill in any blank spaces.
Even when timesheets are kept up-to-date during the working day, errors are often rampant. Employees are generally so absorbed in the hustle and bustle of the office, that they simply cannot stretch their attentions far enough to fill in flawless timesheets. Realistically, they are not being paid to multitask to such an extent. Nothing should detract from any person’s attention to the job they are actually awarded a salary for.
The cognitive overhead caused by employee time tracking is not ideal. The additional concentration and effort required to complete this additional task is absolutely unnecessary. In an effort to keep an accurate overview of their activities, employees become less productive overall. Less productivity generally leads to lower levels of client satisfaction, losing the company valuable pathways to additional work.
Online solutions such as Toggl or Harvest are designed to make the input process a little easier. Start/stop timers are provided in an effort to eliminate the need to remember which activities should be slotted in at which time of the day. Unfortunately, employees still need to take time out of their working routine in order to fill in the necessary information. It is simply a distraction that they do not want or need.
Mobile timesheet applications are the way forwards. Employees should have the ability to quickly fill in the required information from any location or device and at any time. A simple tap on the screen of a Smartphone or Android device should enable users to start or stop the tracking of daily activities without a hitch. The data can then easily be exported to a report than is straightforward and uncluttered.
It may be a good idea to find apps that assist employees in finding the right amount of time to spend on each activity. A certain number of minutes should be dedicated to a particular task, giving the employee a gentle warning as the timer reaches its end. This is a great way to ensure that employees stick to their goals in an effort to boost productivity and reduce the draining of valuable resources.
Background programs used to track the amount of time spent using a particular PC tool or website may also be a great solution. These background applications should be set up in such a way that they launch as soon as the PC starts up. In this way employees will be able to keep an accurate record of how much time is spent on each tiny task that is completed during the day, making it easy to simply transfer the information to timesheet records or data sheets without any fuss.
Try to track down programs and applications that recognize voice commands. Rather than stopping to jot down notes for later, employees can simply make verbal notes of what they are doing throughout the day. The program in question will then create a record of the voice command, exporting it to more manageable file types for documentation.
While it may take some getting used to, employees might also benefit from the combination of scheduling and time tracking. Initially, scheduling always seems like an unnecessary pain in the neck. However, once employees manage to get into a routine that balances out the billed and un-billed parts of their day, they will be able to keep a better eye on the activities that have a direct effect on profitability.
Tracking time spent is all good and well. However, it is probably clever to track the amount of time available as well. If you consider the fact that hours are your inventory, you need to know how much you have available on the “shelf” in order to discover how profitable any given project will be. You need intelligent software that keeps tabs on the time available rather than babysitting the employees themselves.
As an employer, you need to find time tracking software that shows a wide variety of information in real time. Your employees need to be aware of how much time is being spent on each activity, and how much time they have left to focus on others. While running any particular project, you will be able to keep an eye on the things that stifle your profitability.
The quicker you are able to get a project done, the bigger your profit margin will be. If a particular team or employee is running thin on time, others should be informed so that they can lend a hand (provided they have some extra time available in their schedule). Successful time tracking practices are based solely on achieving balance.
It is also important to use software that improves communication within the company. Each team and the members within it need to be aware of their inventory and, simultaneously, create better estimates. Rather than taking time out of their day to fill in nebulous timesheets, all employees will watch their activity being tracked automatically and shared with anyone important throughout the day.
Simplicity is also a big deal. People like to use programs that have no unnecessary frills. The required information needs to be documented without a hitch and preferably without spending too much time at all. The simpler the design of the software, the more likely an employee will be to use it without fail. It may also be a good idea to ensure that data is filled in quickly throughout the day and then submitted before each team member leaves the office. This eliminates the stress of filling in lengthy forms once a week.