Timesheets track the amount of time an employee or contractor spends on a project.

An essential part of payroll work, they ensure you correctly compensate your workers.

They are also a critical part of project management, allowing you to get an accurate ‘at a glance’ view of how work is progressing – empowering you to cost accurately as well as spotting when a programs is at risk of exceeding budget.

At a granular level, timesheets track the time employees start and finish their day, often factoring in breaks and lunch.

Traditionally they were on paper, but technical innovation and cloud technologies allow them to be kept digitally – letting you harvest information, reduce error and improve efficiency.

What does the law say?

While there are several ways timesheets can be processed, the law is clear on one aspect.

If you do not keep full and complete records of your PAYE and payroll for all members of staff, HMRC may be required to estimate what you are required to pay – also charging you a penalty fee of anything up to £3k.

When it comes to what must be tracked, the list includes:

  • What every employee is paid and what deductions you are required to make
  • Any reports made to HMRC about the nature of your work
  • Leave, sickness, and absence with start and end dates for each
  • Any and all tax code notices
  • Recordings of any expenses or benefits
  • All Payroll Giving Scheme documentation, including contract and employee forms

These must be retained for three years from the current tax year.

Doing so permits HMRC to carry out retrospective checks on your work, ensuring all declarations are above board. 

This can be a large amount of information to juggle, and the penalties for not getting it right first time can be significant.

What penalties are there?

Along with penalties for not keeping records, there are also new concerns about data security and hygiene brought about by the introduction of GDPR.

Failing to use proper security and only collecting – and holding – salient information from your staff can result in significant penalties.

If you are unfortunate enough to suffer a data breach, it can quickly result in multiple fines.

Your practice should also be fully compliant with UK Data Protection Rules, which require all information to be secure, accurate, and always up to date.

If your employee information is being used for purposes other than payroll, they must be informed, and you are required to comply with the following requests:

  • Asking to see what information is being held about them and to correct inaccuracies
  • Asking to delete personal data
  • Requesting their data is not used for certain purposes

That doesn’t include the time and resource costs required in responding to HMRC reviews or information requests.

The additional effort can quickly increase, resulting in disruption and higher bills and fines that eclipse what it would have taken to keep sound reports in the first place.

How can we help?

Designed from the ground up to address issues faced by modern employers, our payroll software enables your work to remain accurate and secure without the expenditure of additional effort.

That includes an ability to generate payslips and a contractor portal facility to ensure all timesheets are completed accurately and in full to reduce friction.

The system is also built to enforce compliance with HMRC RTI submissions in addition to working with GDPR requirements – letting you change your approach to adhere to current regulations or adapt to ones that may change in the future.

Doing so ensures your business is not only automated, efficient, and secure but also fully in line with regulations no matter how they change in the future. 

Get in touch

If you want to learn more about how to manage and draw value from your timesheets, the team at Practical Software are here to help.

With many years’ experience working across a range of sectors, we can help streamline and improve your timekeeping practice while keeping a controlled budget.

You can review our full list of platform functionality and modules from here.

Or, if you have specific questions that are bespoke to your business, please do not hesitate to get in touch directly and let our team know exactly what you need.

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Important for optimising your working, productivity tools can be invaluable when it comes to streamlining processes or removing pain entirely.

But with so many available on the market, it can be hard to know what to look out for and which are right for you.

So what do productivity tools do, and which are the best free options to get you started?

What are productivity tools?

An essential part of modern office work, free productivity tools are apps that help make your day easier.

That can be through providing online document storage, automating complex processes or offering specific solutions to issues that cause friction in your workflow.

These can range from single-use programs like note or checklist apps, to end-to-end business platforms like Office365 or GDrive.

Many platforms require a subscription to access their full functionality or to be used legally in an office environment.

However simple research can highlight some alternative options for your use-case, many of which offer protracted trials or are free to use.

Finding these can add value to your daily practice, making administrative, communication, and planning tasks both quick and simple.

How can they help?

While there are nearly as many apps as there are businesses on the market, there are several aspects you should look out for when it comes to selecting a tool that is appropriate for you.

They include:

Unification: A good app should aim to unify your software as much as possible. Put simply, this means there is a single point of access to carry out daily tasks – letting you click into one dashboard to access work rather than cycle through several programs that do not ‘talk’ to each other. It can introduce redundancy and human error, creating a snowball of issues that must be addressed in the long run.

Validation: Quality software will encourage sound working practices while also providing flexibility to deviate when necessary. That can include setting folders in cloud storage drives, limiting access to sensitive files and information or setting reminders for meetings and dates.

Communication: Enjoying a shared channel for communication can be a massive timesaver, especially in businesses that specialise in human interaction. That means being able to capture and review chat messages, emails, invoice and alerts from one system – making it quick and simple to review past decisions and capture data for future analysis. It also makes contacting others as straightforward as possible.

What ones should I consider?

It is important to remember that a poorly-chosen app can hinder as much as help.

It can result in adding extra steps to existing processes, creating a roadblock as staff gets used to the new systems or even just not be fit for purpose.

For that reason, trialling software is important and using a strong, free service is even better.

Bearing this in mind, here are some of our favourite free tools to add to your business:

Google Drive: A popular, free file storage and sync service, Google Drive is a powerful piece of collaboration software that allows each individual user up to 15GB of storage for files and documents. It lets you work across a range of devices, cutting back on the effort required to organise and review content. As standard, signing up to the service grants you a Gmail account for email and access to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.

It permits both clients and colleagues to work together on content. And with 800m users worldwide, it should come as no surprise it’s an extremely popular software platform. It also includes the ability to sync with an Android phone, providing backups to protect against data loss or corruption.

Google Calendar: A piece of time management scheduling software, Google Calendar first launched in 2006 and has been adopted as a de-facto organiser for professionals throughout the market. By default, it allows individuals to create, share and set reminders for events on their daily calendar – making sure you never miss important appointments. Offering a clean and clear interface, it makes scheduling meetings with clients and candidates simple. Recent changes allow key dates to be pulled from your email notifications and automatically added to your calendar, providing a custom configuration that steadily makes the system fit-for- purpose.

Hootsuite: Marketed as an ‘all in one’ social media solution, Hootsuite unifies your social accounts through a single easy-to-use dashboard. It lets you bring in platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn under the same banner. Doing so enables you to combine and repurpose your messaging, taking the minutiae out of timing your scheduling and allowing you to schedule posts in advance. It takes a huge amount of effort out of your online engagement and brand management, allowing you to keep to a rigid posting schedule and be flexible enough to respond to change and challenges with speed.

Slack: A cloud-based communication platform, Slack is an Instant Messenger (IM) that offers a number of channels and tools for users. These can include persistent chat rooms, group conversations, file-sharing, and the ability to create teams for different projects. This ability to segment and search any chats makes it a useful and flexible tool to track work on projects or discussions – letting you hold a formal meeting over IM chat and report or review your minutes, taking what could be a significant disruption to your day to an effortless, quick conversation. Add in an ability to send SMS texts and private messages and you’re all set.

Find out more

If you want to learn more about optimising your employees’ or individual workday, the team at Practical Software is here to help.

Whether you are struggling with optimising, collaboration or ironing the kinks out of an old initiative, our range of tools and bespoke software modules help provide the assistance you need every time.

You can review our list of services in full from here.

Or, if you have specific needs that aren’t being addressed by your providers, please do not hesitate to get in touch directly and let us know exactly what you need to make a difference in your work.

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Scheduling is the bane of any business.

While it’s easy to set dates in your calendar, it’s even easier to find yourself derailed throughout the day by client requests or the simple time miscalculation of challenging tasks.

While there are several tools to help with your work, sometimes modifying your approach can be the most important step towards making positive, sustainable change.

So, how can eating a frog help you start the day right?

And how can you set about prioritising your work more effectively?

What does ‘eat the frog’ mean?

One of our favourite metaphors, ‘eating a frog’ simply means getting your most demanding or draining task completed at the start of the day.

It allows us to better manage our time and prevent the ‘mission creep’ familiar to larger tasks that are started mid-day or toward the end of a shift.

The quote actually comes from the American humourist Mark Twain, who wrote: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

Put simply, he goes to the core of scheduling best practice; that it’s often essential – and just common sense – to get the ‘worst’ task of the day behind you as early as possible.

This assertion was picked up by leading self-development writer Brian Tracy, who wrote a motivational book titled: ‘Eat That Frog: Or Get More Important Things Done’.

In it, he outlines a number of important, and simple, tips and tricks to make sure the most important tasks on your list get done sooner rather than pushing them through to tomorrow, next week, or an undetermined point in the future.

This helps avoid logjams, burnout and crippling analysis paralysis while you deal with multiple tasks simultaneously in a short period – producing low-quality work that leaves you physically and emotionally exhausted.

What are some common ‘frogs’?

While everybody’s ‘frog’ is different, there are several factors that are common to difficult professional tasks. These include:

Significant complexity: If a task requires a lot of effort and checking for accuracy, it can take up an excessive amount of time. Examples might include cross-referencing more than one document, applying complex process steps or just being hard to manage.

High effort: One of the most common issues, tasks that require significant physical or mental exertion can leave you struggling to manage them. It can lead to a lack of mental clarity or losing momentum when disrupted by calls, desk chats or emails.

Limited time: Rushing can lead to paralysis, and having insufficient time to complete a project will often lead to significant delays. That can often result in you ‘changing the shape’ of the work to fit the allotted timeframe, culminating in it being returned for review which in turn causes further frustration. It may also require additional effort to get the job done.

Low familiarity: Even the simplest task takes significant time for an individual unfamiliar with how it works. That can be due to a lack of competency, or excessive checking and validation to confirm all elements have been included.

Contact dependency: Being unable to complete a task without an individual’s input can be frustrating. It can prevent you from starting other tasks due to the threat of interruption and can significantly disrupt your day.

How to identify your ‘frog’

Chances are, if you’ve got this far, you’re already thinking about your least favourite task or are even reading this to learn how to address it.

However, it’s worth considering if it ‘actually’ is your frog or are there more pressing elements in your schedule that ought to be prioritised?

To help identify your frogs, answer the following questions:

  • Which task takes the longest to finish?
  • What are the likely ramifications if the job is not done on time?
  • Is the task high on a list of priorities and, if so, why?
  • How many other individuals are dependent upon you finishing it?
  • Does your current skillset map over to the task well?
  • Has this task taken long to finish in the past?
  • How much are you dreading doing it?

Once identified, it’s important to figure out steps to help break down your work.

It can allow you to segment something into bite-size chunks that would otherwise feel insurmountable.

Doing so also allows you to get a better sense of the genuine effort required while at the same time providing reassurance that you’re starting the day with the right task.

What steps are involved?

With your frog figured out, it’s important to put in place a plan to make sure that it is finished in a timely manner.

That means following some, if not all, of the following steps:

Making a list

Take time on a Friday afternoon or Monday morning to assemble a list of your regular tasks.

At this point, you should include everything as a brain dump.

Once complete, review it and cull, or combine, duplicate tasks until you have comprehensive overview of repeated tasks for each week.

If you’re pressed for time, it’s worth talking to your boss and line manager to confirm what you’re doing and why.

Taking time to review your workload can help you operate more efficiently, reduce stress and allow you to pass skills on to other employees – any good leader will be able to see the benefit in taking an hour out for optimisation.

Segmenting

Once you’ve reviewed a list, it’s time to break your work down into four distinct quadrants.

These help you organise your priorities.

They are:

Quadrant 1: This section contains tasks you don’t want to do, but have to. They are most often ones that combine mission-critical responsibilities that are difficult or time-consuming to finish.

Quadrant 2: This holds tasks you want to do, and also need to. It can be something that you personally enjoy such as designing a new web page, contacting clients or polishing content you’ve already created.


Quadrant 3: These are tasks that you want to do, but don’t need to. It could be something that is due in a couple of weeks’ time, but not essential to complete now, something that’s enjoyable but adds little value to your current work or a passion project that doesn’t meet current established goals.


Quadrant 4: Finally, these include tasks that you not only don’t want to do, but also don’t need to. One of the most common situations to encounter, these are repetitive actions or tasks that require significant effort but don’t add value to your work.

Doing

Once these have been properly reviewed and organised, it’s important to place tasks in Quadrant 1 at the top of a list of priorities for things to get done first thing.

Quadrant 2 can then be deployed as a ‘reward’ of sorts once you’ve got your unpleasant task out of the way, ensuring you have the maximum amount of time possible to spend on activities that you actually find rewarding and serve a strategic purpose for your business.

Quadrants 3 and 4 then become key subjects for review – with actions that are not necessary to complete.

These can potentially be pruned, streamlined or automated through the use of software platforms or systems.

Reflection

Once the work has been completed, it’s helpful to reflect on the changes that have been made.

Did they provide significant benefit? Have they improved efficiency?

Or has your analysis highlighted a weakness in your process that needs to be addressed in order to drive efficiency and prevent burnout?

Using a software solution or time-tracking software can also help you capture hard metrics that can map against your work.

For example, this can let you see the actual time you’re spending on subjects versus their perceived difficulty and establish options to help you with your work, offering efficiency at points where it matters.

What next?

If you want additional assistance with your scheduling work, our team at Practical Software are here to help.

With many years’ experience working across a range of industries, we can ensure that your productivity goals are addressed and efficiencies improved.

You can review our list of services in full from here.

Or, if you need any additional support, please do not hesitate to contact our team directly and let us know what specific elements of your daily routine are proving insurmountable for you. 

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Also known as ‘time clock rounding’, the 7-minute rule in payroll was enforced by the Fair Labour Standards Act and applies to track and calculating employees’ hours, overtime and pay.

The law states that employees are to be paid for every hour they work as well as calculating incomplete hours.

Rather than micromanaging time, it involves rounding up to the closest increment of time.

For example, every 15 or 30 minutes, or by quarters and halves.

The ‘7-minute rule’ comes into play for employers that find themselves having to calculate uneven periods of time and explicitly states companies should ‘round up’ whenever possible.

A practical example

A company pays its employees in 10-minute increments throughout the day and two workers punch out; one leaves 42 minutes into their final hour, and the other 48 minutes into theirs.

The rule states that the first employee can legally be rounded down to 40 minutes for payroll purposes, but the other must be rounded up to 50 minutes.

Over time it is estimated to balance out, and allows a detailed record to be kept while employees are accurately compensated.

To give a specific case of the ‘7-minute rule’ in action, a company that charges in 15-minute increments has an employee that clocks out in the seventh minute of their final shift.

If they work for the full seven minutes the company can round down. Anything above that is rounded up to the nearest increment.

What problems can it cause?

Logistically, tracking the specifics of this process can be extremely difficult and time consuming.

Using a digital solution permits you to automate the process when it comes to producing a pay cheque.

Doing so allows your team to save significant time and effort in validating and confirming the hours worked, especially in high-volume environments.

Choosing a reliable timesheet software platform enables you to not only generate, but track the timekeeping of your employees – giving you an ‘at a glance’ view of your overall efficiency.

It can help you quickly find and iron out wrinkles in your daily practice while ensuring errors are identified and addressed with speed.

It can also help with business growth and change management, guaranteeing you meet the highest standards of compliance.

Find out more

If you want to learn more about how software solutions can help with your payroll actions, the team at Practical Software is here to help.

With a range of modular options to suit all your working needs, we can help make sure you comply fully and calculate precisely.

You can review our list of options and functionality from here.

Or, if you have bespoke requirements or specific queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch directly and let us know exactly what you need to carry out your work with maximum efficiency and accuracy.

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According to figures published late in 2019, the average amount of time spent working each year in the UK is around 37 hours per week.

That figure takes into account a wide range of roles and positions held by members of the general public.

It is part of a continuous trend that began just before the end of 2012 that saw working hours drop to a low of 31.3 hours before climbing steadily in intervening years.

It should therefore come as no surprise that UK citizens work some of the longest hours in the entirety of the Eurozone area.

This has resulted employees in the UK suffering the highest levels of work-related stress in the EU with more than 11 million days lost per annum.

A total of more than half a million people are officially diagnosed with the condition.

What does the law say?

Legally, no employee is permitted to work more than 48 hours per week – a calculation that is conventionally averaged across a 17-week span.

However, it is possible to legally choose to opt out of the 48-hour stipulations by explicitly signing a declaration.

There is no penalty for opting back in.

There are a number of exemptions in critical fields, such as:

  • Businesses where 24/7 staffing is required
  • Armed Forces or emergency services roles
  • Security and surveillance roles
  • Where working time is not calculated, or a constant degree of awareness and oversight is required such as in executive or high-ranking business roles

This is to protect the employer as well as the employee because overworked individuals can be prone to mistakes that increase the risk of accidents, which in turn introduces an element of danger to day-to-day responsibilities.

How can technology help compliance?

Any reliable software platform will be configurable to set automated alerts.

They can produce reminders when individuals are close to the legal limit of hours worked.

It can also be helped by studying a system-wide dashboard that provides an overview of your company data.

A clear perspective can help you track employee progress and compare live statistics against key targets.

A robust structure can also help you crunch numbers around your employee working hours and spot issues related to efficiency, management and more.

With that information, you can make appropriate employment decisions for your business, such as adding resource to teams when required or knowing when and where to scale back.

Get in touch

If you want to learn more about how digital analytics can improve your efficiency and compliance, the team at Practical Software is here to help.

With many years’ professional experience, we can assist in providing a bespoke solution that is tailored to your needs or a rapid deployment of a boxed solution to quickly improve your daily practice.

You can review a list of our services and software modules in full here.

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Finding an appropriate payroll software platform gives you the freedom to operate with efficiency and control while provide a solid financial grounding to improve your business.

However, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when looking at the options available, resulting in analysis paralysis and a delay to deployment.

So, what is essential to look for in a platform and what options could be a good choice?

What is payroll software?

Payroll software is used by recruitment agencies to manage and simplify the employee payroll process. It’s a proven way to reducing errors and increasing efficiency within your business – using automated tasks to ensure nothing is missed and ensuring that staff and contractors are paid the correct amount, and on time.

Reliable payroll systems will usually be fully customisable and can be tailored to the needs of your agency, with elements easily added or removed as required – growing and evolving as your recruitment business adapts to changes in the industry.

What should you look for?

When it comes to picking out the right tool for your business, it’s important to understand why you need it and the core functionality you’re are looking for.

That should start by reviewing your current system and process from end to end, detailing where your workflow is slowing down and identifying areas for potential improvement.

Once you understand what you need, it’s important to be aware of key attributes that are essential to seek out.

While every recruitment agency has its own bespoke requirements, some aspects to look for include:

Flexibility: A system should allow you to dictate how it is deployed while fitting your existing processes, and not the other way around. Being able to change, or modify, your solution will permit you to be responsive to changes in the market, accommodating requests from new clients or exploiting opportunities in the industry.

You should ask: To what degree can the system be customised and changed?

Scalability: With care, combined with good planning, your company can grow and move from strength to strength. As you scale and expand, you will need a modular solution that can adjust smoothly to match your requirements and size. That can include allowing for efficient account creation and customised workflows.

You should ask: How can the system and its setup grow and change with us?

Being fit-for-purpose: Once you have identified obstacles blocking your path, validate that the proposed system addresses them. That can be as simple as taking the stress out of pain points, streamlining multi-step processes, or providing automated assistance for reminders and reconciliation.

You should ask: How does this directly and meaningfully resolve the issue we have identified?

Pricing: It is important to strike a balance between cost-effectiveness and utility. While some packages offer generous onboarding options, it’s vital to look at long-term costs and the degree of reliance your business places on the system. It can be easy to find yourself ‘locked’ into one after it’s been activated, making it financially prohibitive to change.

You should ask: What subscription packages you offer and what steps are involved if we decided to terminate our contract?

What is the best payroll software for recruitment agencies?

Our Practical Software payroll package has been designed by a highly specialised team of contractor and recruitment professionals, with the aim to reduce payroll paperwork and save costs.

Custom built to support recruitment agencies; our platform is designed by teams that understand the obstacles modern agencies face. Our highly seasoned team prides itself on providing a service that deals with the time-consuming minutiae that professionals experience, making payments and deductions straightforward. It gives you full control over reporting, the capacity to auto-generate P45s and P60s and much more – making it a truly fit-for-purpose solution.

What next?

If you want to learn more about the options available to support your business, the team at Practical Software is here to help.

With comprehensive experience operating in the sector, we work with you to understand your specific business needs and ensure you can deploy a solution that is truly fit-for-purpose.

You can learn more about our platform by reviewing our solutions in detail from here.

Or, if you have specific questions, do not hesitate to contact us directly and let us know exactly what you need for effective, efficient deployment.

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When it comes to human error, the worst place it can happen is in the realm of finance.

Whether you are completing a timesheet, calculating what is owed, or uploading materials – making a simple mistake can end up costing significant time, effort and resource.

So what are the costs involved if errors are made and how can you prevent them from happening in the future?

What happens when a mistake is made?

Simply put, timesheet errors can be a nightmare to deal with.

As many degrees of oversight are required, it can demand signoff from multiple members of staff to confirm what went wrong, how to correct it and to learn how to avoid issues in future.

Some common results include:

  • Lack of business knowledge about your teams, creating ‘missing workers’
  • Excessive time spent fixing and checking timesheets
  • Inability to see accurately where time is being spent and if you are providing value for money
  • Issues with cashflow management
  • Frustration from employees who may be over, under, or not paid at all

How can you avoid them?

While it is essential for companies to train employees in good timesheet hygiene, technology can be an invaluable tool when you need it most.

Many reliable systems allow you to carry out checks and validation that helps reduce the effort required to resolve issues when they happen.

Settling on a solid system can also make other elements of your workday easier – allowing you to unify processes while still helping to track down or prevent mistakes on timesheets impacting positively on stress levels and time spent.

How can Practical Software help?

Practical Software’s timesheets module is designed from the ground up to give you additional oversight and control with your work.

This includes an ability to allow users to submit timesheets online and provide traceable email alerts – avoiding ‘lost’ timesheet issues.

An option to review material through a unified dashboard also gives you an at-a-glance overview of your payroll actions, ensuring issues are spotted and addressed early.

This is supported by an intuitive and powerful set of reporting tools that let you quickly understand the problems around timesheet management.

And the flexibility to enforce validation steps at various stages throughout the process, introducting elements that keep any errors to a minimum.

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An essential part of running a profitable business, managing your timesheet compliance can be a nightmare for administrators and employees alike.

However making sure that they’re generated, completed and processed correctly can be incredibly useful.

So, what exactly is timesheet compliance and how can you embed it throughout your organisation?

What is timesheet compliance?

Simply put, timesheet compliance incorporates correctly completing and processing a timesheet in line with clearly defined industry standards.

For those completing the document, it means ensuring your hours are tracked correctly and they are entered and submitted on time.

Once in the system, it is tracked and then reconciled by processors – guaranteeing the correct time is billed to each client and payment proceeds as planned.

Why is it essential?

Unfortunately, the cost of failing to comply with timesheets can be extremely high.

Some key issues include:

Poor quality reporting: Payroll is hugely important when taking the temperature of your business, allowing you to make accurate business decisions and ensure you not only stay afloat, but also prosper. Poor quality timekeeping renders those figures unreliable and can have a knock-on effect on other reporting, making your information unreliable across the board.

Project disruption: Timesheets are an essential part of management and are critical in understanding how much resource needs to be allocated to projects. Failure to track them correctly can lead to under or overbudgeting, which risks delays to the work or derailing it entirely. Failing to understand or truthfully track expenditure is a significant and often overlooked problem and can cause considerable problems that are only noticed when it is too late.

Client and employee dissatisfaction: When it comes to finance, it’s important to get things right first time. Under or overcharging clients can jeopardise your professional relationship or result in unrealistic expectations. Employees can also become disillusioned or risk burnout with timesheets often acting as a barometer for the effort an employee is putting in.

How can software help?

Using a dedicated timesheet software platform can not only take the sting out of payroll processing but ensure compliance at every stage of the process.

Reliable platforms allow employees to submit their timesheets online or as needed, removing any obstacles to completing them successfully through a quality user experience.

Once tendered, automation can take the effort out of reviewing or uploading the information – with enforced validation ensuring the forms are of the highest quality.

After completion, clients can be discretely billed and employees tendered with an email payslip – ensuring a light touch and highly compliant approach.

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An increasingly common part of a digital working environment, email payslips are a convenient and paper-free method to keep employees updated about their wages.

But as GDPR and doubts prompted by Brexit muddy the waters around data security, it’s important to check that you know where you stand when it comes to compliance.

So, what are the common issues around payslips and what can you do to directly address them? 

What are email payslips?

An email payslip is, essentially, what it says on the tin.

It is an electronic copy of your physical payslip, and includes details such as PAYE and other required elements.

These are usually auto-generated by your chosen software platform and can be created en-masse, saving you valuable time and effort.

A flexible system should also allow you to create them on an ad-hoc basis for individual users, giving you peace of mind that they go where they need to be.

What does the law say?

Recent changes brought about by GDPR state insist updated security protocols and practice must be deployed to protect user data.

While there is nothing explicit in the regulations that prohibits the use of emailed payslips, it is the business owner’s responsibility to ensure payment information is being sent to the correct email address and your payroll provider is using reliable encryption when it comes to the generation of payslips.

This includes making sure a secure, unique password is set for each employee and that your payroll information is stored safely.

It also involves holding the data for as long as it is necessary for you, or your teams, to properly manage the payroll – making email payslip data protection a key concern for all businesses.

Our program’s payroll module grants you full control and compliance over how you want to administer your work.

It can be automated to a high degree, with the system able to send emails to designated and validated addresses at the end of the month.

This is done in full compliance with HMRC RTI protocol.

The platform was also developed with full GDPR compliance in mind, helping to future-proof your work and ensure you are up-to-date with pension regulations as well has having the flexibility to respond to changes in the marketplace.

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An essential part of running a profitable business, timesheet management can be a time-consuming and arduous task. Often an afterthought, taking care to select a reliable, fit-for-purpose software solution ensures your team’s work is efficient, effective and beneficial to the business.

What is timesheet software?

Simply put, timesheet software is a digital alternative to conventional physical or bespoke timekeeping practices. It allows you to make use of a suite of tools that assist in streamlining your work when it comes to timesheet management, deploying a ‘one-stop solution’ that makes your processing quick, correct and cost-effective.

While there are a wide range of options available on the market, any reliable timesheet platform will be:

Unified: A piece of timesheet software is a complete and unified selection of tools that talk to each other. They reduce friction significantly when it comes to generating, sending, processing and reporting on your work and produces an ‘all in one’ solution.

For example, while it may be possible to generate and share documentation through existing programs such as GDOC or Xero, settling on a digital solution encourages all the elements ‘talk’ to each other, preventing the creation of a time sink, eliminating data loss and allowing your teams to work efficiently through a single regulated platform. 

Ask what tools the system has and how they interact with each other and your established systems.

Cloud-based: Any reliable platform should, as a minimum, make use of cloud technology. It allows you to store data securely and an authorised user to access it remotely. Working from a single data source is hygienic when it comes to generating timesheets and tracking their progress.

Staff and contractors can submit their information as and when they need to, massively reducing the delays plagues many agencies. Instant updates allow your team to track the live submission of data, providing an instant overview of the ‘state of play’.

Ask how the data can be accessed and what security measures are in place to protect it.

Modular: Modern software development practice dictates that any tool should allow for modularity, meaning elements can be added or removed as required. The result is a truly tailored solution that includes only the components you need to complete your professional work.

As a consequence, you save money while at the same time ensuring your platform removes obstacles in the way of your team carrying out their work. If you need to add new elements, then you can – allowing your budget to stretch as far as it needs.

Ask about the tools that come with the system, and which meet your needs.

Usable: One of the biggest obstacles facing businesses is a reluctance, or even fear, of introducing a new system. Any reliable provider will have an established onboarding practice that transfers your data in bulk. Once ready it can be operated through a unified dashboard, letting team members access information securely and with ease.

Combined with a high degree of UX, it is clean and straightforward to interact with. Doing so can eliminate barriers to entry you and your teams may have. As a minimum, the system should be fully optimised for smart and tablet devices, providing a unified browsing experience for users from all backgrounds to make daily use intuitive and easy.

Ask if you can have a hands-on demonstration, or if there is a trial period to get used to the system.

Why use timesheet software?

Whether you are dealing with a reduced budget, are unsure about using a new system, or have a range of other issues it can be difficult to justify the expenditure a software platform requires.

If you are struggling with your current timesheet process, it’s important to ask the following questions:

Where am I struggling? What areas of your practice are causing you to ‘fall down’? Is it late payment, time issues, resource problems or other elements?

Can I identify why that is happening? Once the critical problem is identified, it’s essential to determine the cause. Is it something that can be fixed by training, changing your workflow, or is it a ‘cost’ that’s tough to escape?

What is the cost of not fixing it? After problems have been located and understood, it’s important to fully triage them. While some may be ‘quick fixes’, it’s important to be honest about your issues and the time and resource that you may be wasting on a monthly or weekly basis.

Advantages of timesheet software

It’s essential to evaluate your own professional practice before adding another software tool to the business. But once problems have been identified, it’s time to act. Some of the potential advantages a carefully-selected platform can bring to your business, include:

Specific problem solving: Many agencies struggling with payroll issues will have one bugbear causing concern. It might be continual late invoices, repeated error when it comes to document creation and submission or an inability to view live data. Introducing a modular software solution adds the right tool for the job when it comes to tackling an issue and resolving it, enabling your team to move onto work that truly matters.

For example, it could be introducing print and scan bulk upload technology to ease the burden of adding documents to the system. This means doing away with the repetitious task of manually uploading each single document and adding them all with one click – freeing up time and resource.

Metricising data: When it comes to adding value throughout your business, metricisation and analysing ‘big data’ are quick wins any quality platform has. It gives you an ‘at a glance’ overview of your timesheet submissions so you can make business decisions based on statistical evidence. That can be as simple as seeing how cost effective your project management work or deciding where to make changes due to issues over late submissions or under-budgeting.

That can be helped by a robust reporting tool that pulls essential information from the system in a range of formats. Reporting permits a quick look at the day’s work or a review of the entire history of your payroll practice. That way you can assess the long-term health of the business while deciding on a strategic plan for the months ahead.

Increased efficiency: A major driver for change in any business, deploying an automated solution can allow you to streamline arduous process steps, eliminate repetitious tasks and ensure a higher degree of accuracy throughout your workflow. While that may be as simple as removing additional clicks, those seconds saved quickly add up and can significantly shorten the time and resource required to complete a task.

For many professionals, choosing a payroll platform means you can take advantage of a diverse suite of tools. That can range from using instant invoicing functionality to auto-generating documents whenever timesheets have been fully authorised on the system. It is assisted by an ability to submit timesheets online through a portal or assigning complex calculations to simple custom clicks on the system as needed.

Effectiveness with no hidden costs: When it comes to choosing a tool, it’s essential to ensure you’re getting the best value for money. Selecting a fit-for-purpose digital solution means you can incrementally improve processes.

Choosing a quality solution should come with white label functionality as standard. You can add your own branding and design to the platform, customise the layout and introduce additional functionality exactly as required. Usability should be enabled through a centralised dashboard that gives an at-a-glance overview of the system’s live status as well as a personalised record of work done.

What next?

If you want to find out more about how technology can add value to your business and improve your professional practice, Practical Software is here to help. With many years’ professional experience, we are happy to work with you on a solution that is state-of-the-art.

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