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.