How online timesheets reduce errors and save you time
Is your business using online timesheets or are you still using a paper solution?
Whether you have a small team comprising fewer than 10 staff members or a growing team of 50, managing work schedules and payroll manually with timesheets is a tedious task.
It can be difficult to account for changes in schedules and check for accuracies within the timeframe you need to ensure you pay your workforce on time.
If you’re struggling to manage timesheets accurately, you’ve probably outgrown your payroll system and should consider how technology is alleviating accuracy headaches for payroll managers today.
Online timesheets, for example, makes managing schedules and payroll less of a challenge. Not using tech solutions such as this so will risk your staff’s confidence in the business and their happiness as employees.
Research by Marlin PR on behalf of Sage shows that 35% of UK workers would find another job if their employer paid them incorrectly even once. Furthermore, 51% would lose trust in their employer and resent them.
What are online timesheets?
Online timesheets are a cloud-based service offered by payroll software providers. They allows employees to submit, view and access information online about the hours they have worked. They can do this securely online whenever they want, wherever they are.
They also reduce queries, data entry duplication, the risk of errors, and unnecessary business costs due to non-compliance penalty fees.
Online timesheets vs paper timesheets
Online timesheets offers many advantages over managing paper timesheets.
Better compliance management tops the list as GDPR and other information security regulations set specific instructions for collecting, storing and sending personal information.
Data is updated in real-time online, so you don’t need to print, post or email sensitive information.
Depending on your provider, your data can easily be transferred through an online portal so you don’t have to maintain physical storage or safe disposal of hard copies.
The time-saving benefits of online timesheets is also compelling.
Instead of manually entering data with no visibility into potential errors until it’s too late, automation features help you to spot discrepancies in enough time to correct them.
You can also reduce the time you spend on payroll admin.
Your employees will be able to view their own hours, meaning you’ll have fewer queries to answer, giving you more time to focus on strategically contributing to the business.
Integration is another powerful tool available when using an online timesheet solution. It can integrate with your payroll management system to automatically calculate pay and deductions.
Read more about payroll
- 5 simple tips to get payroll right every time
- The ultimate guide to payroll compliance and legislation
- How to choose a payroll system for your business
- Tax-Free Childcare: What it means for your payroll
- An ultimate guide to payroll for your small business
How online timesheets can save time for your payroll team
Online timesheets can free up your time by giving employees 24/7 access to their payslip information online, making it the perfect solution for your busy payroll team.
You can use filters to easily search through your database of employee data.
They are also designed to let you set levels of pay. If you want to pay overtime at a higher rate than basic pay, or pay different levels for different tasks, you can easily make those adjustments with your online timesheets.
You can also set the levels of pay to each individual employee who has access.
Plus, with 24/7 employee access, your team can spend less time answering queries. When submitting their online timesheets, your employees can leave notes. Simply allot some time to answer them in one go rather than needing to do so on an ad-hoc basis, which can interrupt your day.
Payroll technology and online timesheets as a solution
Technology is levelling the business playing field. Small and medium-sized businesses must take advantage of this and harness the value of cloud technology when it comes to keeping up with large competitors.
Capabilities that used to be exclusive to big corporations with large IT budgets are now accessible to businesses of all sizes. Take advantage of this to maximise agility, boost employee productivity, and access new customers and markets.
By pre-empting rapid growth, you can put the systems in place to help shift your business up a gear.
Technology can manage surges in demand and avoid growing pains. You can empower your staff to work flexibly, manage your business on the move, and respond quickly to problems and opportunities.
Jeremy Corner, co-founder and director of greeting card company Blue Eyed Sun, says he moved from manual payroll processes to payroll software once his team started to grow.
“Now we have 16 staff members ranging from full time to part time,” he says. “Payroll software makes managing their employment so easy. With real-time requirements from HMRC now mandatory, the info can be sent to the tax office at the click of a button.”
Seven tips for choosing the right payroll software
1. Look for onboarding support to ensure clean data migration
It is critical that you cleanse employee information prior to your migration. The last thing you want to do is bring incorrect, old, or unnecessary data into your new payroll system. Basic data parts are:
- Tax File Number (TFN)
- Full name
- Current address
- Basis of employment (full time, part time, etc)
- Employment start date
- Bank account details
- Remuneration details (salary, hourly rate, etc)
- Superannuation details
2. Make sure the software features align with your business needs
While all payroll systems ‘do payroll’, there will be a few software providers that better suit your requirements.
Whether it’s that your processes fall into the narrow functionality of a less flexible system, or you select a more adaptive system, you need to make sure the systems you evaluate can do what you need to meet your business objectives and employee needs.
3. Ensure your new software can deal with changes in compliance
There are two aspects to consider here:
- What records you need to maintain from your old payroll system
- How the new systems you’re evaluating can prove they’ll maintain compliance.
Understand how you can adapt to new compliance requirements when regulatory changes are made to taxation, superannuation, and other HR requirements.
Do the providers you’re evaluating have a record of making updates on schedule?
Also consider your old records and data retention requirements. How will this be managed moving forward?
Should you save the old data in the old system as read-only, or migrate in full? How far back will you migrate?
4. Look for standardisation to simplify processes
This is an excellent time to review your pay policies and remuneration procedures, aiming at uniformity across departments. Are all departments using up-to-date documents and workflows? Are shift allowances being applied uniformly – and if not, should they be?
It is more efficient for standardised policies to be applied business-wide.
5. Integrate for better data control
List the systems you operate for HR. Businesses with shift workers will have scheduling, time and attendance systems. Your HR-related systems should integrate to avoid duplicate data entry, and errors due to typos, so you need to find out how this will be managed.
Is it plug and play, or will there be a need for professional services to integrate?
6. Consider training and ongoing support
Think about the training and support offered, as well as any costs associated. Training should be offered to get you up and running.
Meanwhile, adequate support, such as 24/7 web assistance or a designated account manager, should be a requirement for such a critical system.
Support should also be available when you’re operating. This cannot be overstated. Once you’re up and running, if you do have issues with your system you’ll want someone to turn to for a quick resolution.
7. Test your system
Thorough testing should be part of your planning to ensure you will go live successfully. When evaluating partners, ask for their test plan and confirm it covers all contingencies in case of emergency.
Proven payroll partners typically have a straightforward test programme that will find bugs in data or processes.
Getting payroll data right is the basis for a high-performing payroll function. Even the smallest payroll errors can have disastrous consequences, especially if they remain undetected for years.
And the risk of error significantly increases as your business grows and its payroll becomes more complex.
Ensuring you have the right payroll systems and processes in place is critical, especially if your business is a fast-growing one that has outgrown its payroll software system.
Consider online timesheets as a simpler, more secure and accurate way to manage your payroll.
Editor’s note: This article was first published in August 2019 and has been updated for relevance.
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