To determine which option will benefit you and your team better, consider the following “battle” – Timesheet software vs. Excel. But first…
What is Time management and why is it important?
Time management is the process of planning and exercising control of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase efficiency, productivity, and profitability.
When it comes to increasing efficiency, productivity, and profitability time management and time tracking are some of the most important processes you need to manage. There are two basic options for time tracking:
- Manual – basic Excel spreadsheet
- Automatic – Online timesheet software
Time tracking in Excel means entering the time spent on different activities in a spreadsheet template.
Download free timesheet template in excel format divided into:
After you choose Excel template, you’ll need to manually enter data and then to send the spreadsheet on review to your manager on a defined base (daily, weekly or monthly basis) usually by e-mail.
Timesheet software is a simple web tool based on the entry of working hours by employees and the other hand, it’s easy to track results, costs, revenues, and profitability by the manager. At the daily level, it takes an average of 2 to 5 minutes to enter data on working hours by clients, projects, and activities.
Employees can enter data online via desktop or mobile phone, which makes timesheet software easy to use.
Automation of time tracking
The fact is that by using excel and basic spreadsheets there are no additional costs on technology and the mentioned tool does not require significant updates.
Excel is very easy to implement into the working process since employees use it in other business operations also.
However, a manual system like this too much relies on employee “goodwill”, which usually means a high probability of error.
When it comes to invoicing, managers struggle to create invoices from a pile of Excel sheets. It often takes a few days to collect files from all employees.
On the other side timesheet, online software is fully automated.
Advantages of automated timesheets are:
- precision of calculation
- collection of valuable data which you can export to Excel
- simplify invoicing
- reduction of potential error associated with the human factor
With timesheet software solutions, you will also have an accurate overview of the time spent by each employee by:
- service lines,
- clients, etc., depending on the nature of your business
With automation of time tracking you can plan, organize, and control time consumption per all above mentioned categories and more.
For more words about planning and organizing your team performance read How do you track team performance online??
Time tracking software requires some changes in your employee routines at the beginning of implementation, but positive changes can be good for every organization.
Excel can be an advanced analysis tool. If you have all the relevant data, you can do comprehensive reporting, but it requires high knowledge and a lot of valuable time.
The manager can learn and follow the formulas and calculations and adjust them if needed. However, there is a high risk that errors will occur. One wrong entry can cause a cycle of wrong calculations. Tracking errors in Excel can be time consuming and inefficient.
Using the software is a completely different story from Excel.
Based on the generated data, the software:
- Develops advanced analytics that serves management to monitor productivity, efficiency, and profitability of all categories (employees, customers, activities performed, service lines, or projects)
- Allows you to export timesheets
- Allows you to export invoice data
- Automatically generates a plan of holidays
Analysis is done for the selected period and it shows data on:
- the total hours spent on a specific activity
- how many of the total hours are billable and how many are not
- what is the utilization of labor
- how much did it cost to perform all activities individually
- and the average cost per hour.
Based on generated data you can:
- minimize the unproductive behavior of employees
- evaluate the work of employees
- redefine work conditions, salaries, and bonuses
- determine overtime work and whether it is justified
Unlimited number of data entries
Excel files are usually limited by available memory and system resources. It’s not rare that these files are “update” to keep their size manageable, and in the process, companies can lose historical data.
Without historical data and important information, it is really difficult to define goals and strategies to increase productivity, efficiency, and profitability of all categories (employees, clients, activities performed, service lines, or projects).
Also, Excel tends to “crash”. The more you update and share a particular excel sheet or file it is the higher chance of the file getting corrupted and the data being lost.
- Date of the activity
- Number of hours or minutes
- Selection of the client, activity, project, or service line, with an indication of whether the work is billable or not.
- There is an option to enter the amount of the hourly rate invoiced to the client
In the case of using online software, you don’t have to entirely get rid of Excel spreadsheets. The best solution is to combine excel with timesheet software. In that case, you can use software for automatic entry or analysis and then export all data to Excel for creating invoices or further analyses.
Reflection of change
After some time of using an Excel sheet, the manager can realize that a new column, formula, or row is necessary. Adding new data or making corrections in Excel can be inefficient and slow.
As mentioned above, excel tends to “crash”. The more you update and share a particular excel sheet or file it is the higher chance of the file getting corrupted and the data being lost.
What happens with data if someone accidentally deletes a cell, a line, or even the whole spreadsheet? Data is usually permanently lost. Once data have been lost, recovering them without a change log is almost impossible.
In time attendance software you can easily modify certain fields or customize it for Company and your own needs.
- projects or service lines
Mangers usually choose that employees provide timesheet data to him weekly or monthly, so employees cannot create the habit of regularly entering working tasks. Therefore, there is a possibility that the ratio of billable and non-billable hours is not correct because in practice employees usually enter data at the last moment for the whole week so it is easy to forget what you have done at the beginning of the week.
As we mentioned before it is time-consuming to “collect” Excel sheets from employees every week or month and then to combine and analyzing them.
At the moment when managers finally create invoices, there is a possibility that they are not accurate due to irregular entry of working tasks.
On the other hand, timesheet software is more efficient and better than excel in every aspect.
It is possible to get detailed information for all employees, according to
- projects etc.
Based on these data, it is possible to minimize the unproductive behavior of employees, and at the same time, this data is a good basis for evaluating the working activities of employees and redefining working conditions, salaries and bonuses.
- create an invoice
- display data on all types of work performed for a specific client
- and display the number of hours spent (billable and non-billable)
At the end of the day, employees only need to click “Edit” in the Timesheets section to make the planned hours realistic.
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