Long before online project timesheets, it was common for workers to clock into time logs or time-card machines in days gone past.
More recently, you may have experienced rounding up paper timesheets and manually inputting hours in to run a report.
It’s still true that many small businesses calculate hours with old-fashioned Excel spreadsheets.
Spreadsheets possibly contribute to why timesheets have a bad rep in the HR world.
Office administrators and managers are undoubtedly familiar with the traditional manual badgering of employees to get them completed.
Many people don’t enjoy enforced timekeeping.
Why would you need to track how much time work takes you, especially if you’re doing it in such an old-fashioned way?
However, your business may have valid reasons for asking employees to keep timesheets.
If appropriately implemented, they’re an effective way of recording the time your employees have spent on a job for a defined period. Let’s explore more in this article.
Here’s what we cover:
Project timesheets vs pay timesheets
In HR, the use of timesheets is widespread. They’re a helpful way of working out pay, whether contracted hours are being fulfilled, and calculating overtime.
They’re particularly common in agencies and industries, from software development and professional services to construction and architecture.
Timesheets effectively collect the information needed to cost a project accurately and bill a customer.
But timesheets are not only used to calculate pay.
In project management, project timesheets can be a great way to monitor time on specific projects and keep everything on track.
You can see how efficiently a project moves along, adjusting tasks based on timesheet data to increase productivity and efficiency without delaying or increasing budgets.
Why your business would use project timesheets
Construction is an excellent example of an industry where project timesheets come into their own.
You can track the hours your team spends on a job (which may spread out over different locations).
Here are some reasons project timesheets work well for construction jobs:
- It takes the guessing out of hours worked and they’re helpful when it comes to billing and payroll for jobs done in a specific period.
- You can increase efficiency and transparency—you can view what was or wasn’t accomplished in a specific time frame and know what you are paying employees for.
- You can quickly review timesheet information and expedite payments based on what an employee did in the work week.
- You can carefully manage the time you are spending per project, which is very useful for bidding on future projects. You can give precise estimates on future jobs, reducing the risk of overbidding.
- You can dedicate resources in the best way—better allocating a worker’s time and move tasks around on a project if necessary.
If you’re using timesheets, hopefully you’ve moved away from physical paper-based timesheets, which forces employees to fill in a form to enter their timesheet data and submit it when they’ve finished.
As well as being prone to inaccuracy (workers could put down any random number), any day an employee misses handing in a form could create problems further along, including lost payments.
Even if you’re using Excel instead of paper timesheets, you’ll understand how time-consuming it is to review each form, verify whether the data is valid, and copy it to the chosen spreadsheet.
Doing timesheets without specific cloud HR software lacks control and introduces a significant margin for error. And without some complex calculations and a thorough review, it’s tough to draw out any proper analysis.
Using HR software and project timesheets
Online timesheets with the aid of cloud HR software are a much better bet than paper or spreadsheet timesheets, as you can quickly see your team’s logged hours in real time.
You can automate your process, auto-fill forms as tasks are completed and copy recurring work.
HR software can also inform you when your team members have completed timesheets and lock them when you’ve approved them.
With online timesheets, you can better track which employees are working on specific tasks and whether the outcome is what you’re expecting.
If there appears to be an issue causing a project to stutter, you can quickly pinpoint and investigate the issue.
Online project timesheets can help with project management budgeting, as you can easily measure time and budget used by monitoring the hours employees are spending on tasks and how many resources you’re using.
Timesheet data will give you better insight, which you can use to enhance your working processes.
While you can use the information to examine which employees are more efficient in using time, you might be better off using this data to understand how much you should quote on future projects based on how many resources you’ve allocated on your current one.
Top tips for managing tasks effectively
If you’re managing a project, you can use online timesheets to identify ways to improve the way you’re managing tasks, as you can see what your team is working on at any time.
Use online project timesheets to see:
Where project expenses are going
You need to manage and track expenses to keep your project within budget. Online project timesheets will help you understand how tasks overrun the time you’ve allocated for them in real time.
Overrunning tasks will cost money, and you don’t want to deliver an over-budget project.
Additionally, project timesheets should help you create better estimates for future projects, so it’s easier to stay within your allocated budget.
What tasks members of your project team are working on
A project will have different individuals with various levels of authority doing a variety of jobs.
You need to select the best people for the specific jobs that make up your project and ensure they have the knowledge and skill to do it.
Which tasks your team haven’t finished
With project timesheets, you can quickly see which tasks are incomplete and dig down to understand why you haven’t finished them in the time you may have allocated.
You can find out why a task is incomplete and take action to address the situation.
Who isn’t logging hours and may have the capacity to pick up work
For successful project management, you need to manage the project workload for each member of your team.
Online timesheets can help you with capacity planning.
They can help you distribute the work fairly and check which team members are busy and logging the most hours.
Final thoughts on using project timesheets
You want your business to be profitable, and people are central to achieving the profit margins that makes the difference between success and failure.
It’s true that some people don’t like timesheets.
But you can make everybody’s life that much easier by using online timesheets tools that make tracking time less of a chore and more accurate.
Then you can genuinely take away data that’ll make your project management that much more effective and efficient.
Recommended Next Read
How using an HR mobile app will change how you manage your people
Never miss an episode
Subscribe by email and get Sound Advice delivered to your inbox every two weeks with the Sage Advice newsletter with a ton of related articles, templates and problem solving guides for small businesses so you can put our sound advice into practice.