Timesheet software for small business – do you really need it?

In one of our previous texts, we have provided arguments that timesheet software is a necessary management tool for increasing the profitability of your company. Metaphorically, if you are General of the Army, a time tracking solution is an interactive map of the battlefield. It is a device that helps you see where your company stands both long term and short term and regroup your troops, where necessary.

When we started with promoting our software, a very common response from small businesses was: We are a small firm, we have less than 10 employees, we can track everything ourselves, we do not need any automation.

But, is it so?

On the contrary. The best time to start applying timesheet software is when you are still small:

You won’t be small forever. Strike while the iron is hot! Do what is difficult while it is still easy. Do what is large while it is still small.

As an owner/manager of the company, you are the sole person responsible for the development of the enterprise. You need to prepare it for scaling. In addition, your business needs to be flexible, to be prepared for the storm. Have you ever expected Covid-19 lockdown this spring? Who knows what could happen next year or next decade. In our own experience, Time Analytics helped us increase productivity of remote work, communicate effectively and finish all projects on time.

The goal of the text is not only to discuss the timesheet for small business. The goal of the text is to help you reflect on the business. What is the vision of the company? What software tools can you use to achieve this vision?

Timesheet software vs. small business perspective

What is the job of the manager? The best definition was provided by Mr. Darby, managing partner of an international law firm in the TV show Suits (you’ll recognize him as Lord Varys from Game of Thrones) answering the question of whether he currently has any work to do:

My dear fellow, if I have to do work, then I’m not doing my job.

To be more precise, the manager needs to make sure that the work is done by other people. The manager must not spend his/her time in the trenches. The exceptions are for example when you need to motivate your people, train them, or to solve exceptional problems. You need time to think, get up on the hill, and see how the battle is going on.

Whether you are doing your job as a manager, Mr. Darby from Suits would probably ask you, with his posh accent, questions like:

  • Have you spent an entire single day thinking about the future of the business this month?
  • Do you have time and energy to solve the main organizational problems?
  • Have you spent enough time on business development (finding new partners, new clients, etc.) this year?
  • Can your employees make decisions and solve problems without you?
  • Have you come home on time (not working extra hours) more than 10 times this month? For high earners, this has become the luxury.

According to the National Bureau of Economics Research the frequency of long working hours increased by 14.4 percentage points among the top quintile of salary earners.

You replied No on three or more of previous questions?

In this case, Mr. Darby would most certainly tell you:

My dear lad, you do not control your business. The business controls you. Take back control!

Timesheet software could be a tool to help you get back control:

  • Track time of the employees, stop micromanaging
  • Get automated KPI dashboard
  • Monitor profitability of clients, projects, and service lines
  •  Provide a quantitative basis for making management decisions

Legal perspective of timesheet software?

It is legally binding to set up a tracking system of employees’ working time. For example, the Court of Justice of the European Union published the opinion that all Member states must set up an objective, reliable and accessible system enabling the duration of time for each worker each day. If your company is established in the European Union, you please see more information about daily working time tracking.

Legal requirements on working timesheets tracking

In many countries, there are a labor laws prescribes keeping of working time records due to various reasons such as calculation of maximal working time, overtime tracking etc. For example, in the United States, The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes rules on working hours, overtime and records keeping. The Act requires that employees may not be employed more than 40 hours a week without receiving overtime pay.  Overtime pay is determined at least one and one-half times of their regular hourly rates.

The wage that employees should receive cannot be calculated without records of the number of hours worked.

Fact Sheet #21 (Recordkeeping Requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act summarizes recordkeeping regulations.

Every employer must keep certain records for each non-exempt worker. The Act does not require specific form of the records, but does require that the records include certain identifying information about the employee and data about the hours worked. Timesheet online platform is excellent solution for preparation accurate recording of working hours.

tracking of working hours

The best timesheet software, does it exist?

Alright, Mr. Darby convinced you that you need timesheet software for small businesses. But, you may ask Mr. Darby which one to use, what is the best one? Mr. Darby would smile, put his cup of Earl Grey tea on the side, and tell you:

My dear chap, please, the best sword for Lancelot is not the best one for King Arthur!

To translate it, there is no best timesheet software for everyone. There is the best timesheet software uniquely for your business. Which one is your fit, depends on factors such as:

  • In which business are you (manufacturing, technology, service industry, hospitality, and tourism industry, retail, wholesale, construction, etc.)?
  • The number of employees
  • The level of standardization of business processes: is the company a start-up, or more of a bureaucratic company? Has it set precise procedures and policies yet?
  •  Data which managers need for making decisions

I have discussed with Mr. Darby for which companies Time Analytics software is the best. He was thinking about it for a few minutes, sitting comfortably in his armchair, and replied:

My dear lad, I have just recently started hitting the gym, quite frankly, to shed a few pounds. I am not doing the exercises my personal trainer shows me to do. I am doing those he’s doing himself.

What did he mean by that? Our sister company is accounting and financial advisory firm. Altogether, we have developed the software mainly to solve our own organizational problems and to be able to grow in the future. We believe that our employee timesheet solution is the best for companies facing the same problems as we do: smaller professional service companies that aspire to emerge in the future. Therefore, we propose the very medicine we have already taken.

Free timesheet software, does it exist?

Fine, Mr. Darby convinced you that Time Analytics software is perfect for you. But you worry about the costs of software. You ask Mr. Darby why you should pay a license for one software when there are so many free apps online. Sitting on the sofa with his legs on the table, in the middle of filling a crossword, Mr. Darby just answered without raising his head from the newspapers:

My dear fellow, the first principle of Economics: there is no free lunch. Free things are usually the most expensive.

 What’s his point? Issues with free time tracking apps may be:

  •  Free versions usually provide only a limited number of functionalities. You could lack necessary features for more detailed analysis
  •   Will it be free forever? Let’s say you get free software that fits your business needs perfectly. You use it for 3 years and voila not free anymore! The service provider started charging for a license. You’ll have nowhere to go since you and your employees have already been accustomed to the software and it is difficult to change it

If you contact us, we will provide you with a transparent pricing policy. We will be business partners, oriented towards joint long – term goals. We shall grow together from a small business scale.

Key features of small business timesheet software

What functionalities should timesheet software for small business have? Let’s ask our British friend:

My dear friend, when I have trouble sleeping, I read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. Just last night, I read – Those who have forgotten where the road leads, are at odds with what is all around them.

In plain English, what do you want to get from the software? You need to identify management issues you want to achieve with timesheet software. What management goals that you want to achieve with the help of timesheet software? Likewise, that was our first step when we started constructing the software. On the basis of our internal needs, we answered three questions:

  •  What time categories we want to track?
  •  Which KPIs we want to analyze?
  • What reports we want to have presented?

Time is filled-in and tracked through the following categories:

  • Employee
  • Client
  • Working Task
  • Project
  • Billable/non – billable time. For the billable time, you can fill-in data on an hourly/daily rate

We have divided KPIs into three main categories:

  • Financial indicators: such as % of billable hours, revenue per hour spent, and cost per client (project)
  • Commercial (marketing) indicators: such as total number of clients, the average number of service lines per customer, and total hours spent on commercial (marketing) activities
  • Employee productivity indicators: such as total hours spent per employee, the structure of work activities per employee, overtime, and number of employees per project (client)

More information on KPIs are provided in our other text that spread the word about the usage of timesheet solutions for consulting firms.

And finally, we get reports and timesheet calculation for hours and costs per the following categories:

  • Employees
  • Clients
  • Tasks
  • Projects

Conclusion

And at the very end, timesheet software for small business – a necessity or not? One last time, we shall consult Mr. Darby for some metaphoric remark on the question:

My dear lad, as a British patriot, I am fond of Admiral Nelson and Duke of Wellington. But, their arch-nemesis, that French fellow Napoleon should be quoted right now – It is with safe and well-conceived plans that we win wars. I purposely exaggerate all the dangers and all the calamities that the circumstances make possible. I am in a thoroughly painful state of agitation. This does not keep me from looking quite serene in front of my entourage. Once I have made up my mind, everything is forgotten except what leads to success.

What did Napoleon, the 19th century project management legend, try to say? When you engage in business planning, you should focus on the main risks. What can go wrong? After you have done that, you can pursue implementing your plans. 

What all of this has to do with the necessity of timesheet software for small business?  Well if your company is still small, you do feel that you control the business and you expect you’ll stay the same, you may go on without software.

But:

If you do not feel that you control the business and/or have plans to grow, you should consider using timesheet software.

Mr. Darby and the numbers

In the end, if you do not trust Mr. Darby, you should trust the numbers. According to the Market Research Future, only the US economy loses 50 million hours in productivity daily, because of unrecorded work activities. The other research shows that annual losses of unrecorded emailing activities can go up to 50.000$ per professional.

Final remarks

Our company would like to offer Time Analytics software, a tailor-made timesheet software for small businesses. In case you are interested to try our 60-day Trial version, please start with employee timesheet automation.

In the end, me and my team would like to wish you good luck with developing your business. Let’s grow together!

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