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When Time Tracking by Spreadsheet is No Longer Good Enough

If you have a small to medium sized organization and you need to track your employee time, you probably started simply enough. Using a spreadsheet method to list each employee, every project or client and the associated hours worked. At some point you will find it is time to move to a more formal approach to time tracking. For most organizations, this happens sooner than one might think. While the cost of a timesheet software program or license can be a consideration, the cost to you, your clients and your employees can be greater if your manual tracking process is inaccurate.

No matter how careful you are in reporting time, and no matter how dependable the staff assigned to check and track time, you are bound to suffer from human error. The more employees you have, the greater the number of hours to track and the greater the possibility for error. Whether it is an error in vacation pay, available staff hours, or client billing, these errors will cost you money and can be very frustrating for your staff and your customers.

Over and above the possibility of human error, there is the difficulty of tracking and reporting time, schedules, budgets and associated billing over a period of time. Sure, you can create a more elaborate master spreadsheet to roll up all the hours and employees and you can develop a formula to run totals and create simple reports. But, as your business grows and you add staff and skills, you will find yourself managing salaried and hourly employees, and trying to approve and track overtime, vacation days and paid holidays and sick days. You will also have to ensure that your managers are able to easily review and approve the time for their team members and in the midst of all of this, youll need to ensure each employee’s privacy by giving access to pay and hours and personal information only to those who need to see the information to approve time. If you need labor information to justify a termination or report on a trend to justify additional head-count, you will find it difficult to pull all of that information out of a spreadsheet system.

When you are ready to graduate to a software system, you will find deep functionality in web timesheet solutions as well as software packages you install in your own network environment. Don’t be put off by the price! There are plenty of options today and even a small business can afford a basic system. It will save you time, improve accuracy of information and allow your administrative staff to dedicate hours to activities that generate revenue instead of spending hours creating spreadsheets and manual reports.

About the Author

Palantir, author alias for Susan Obijiski, is a technology professional, consultant, business coach and writer. Her experience includes management consulting, and she has published research for Gartner Group. Susan is a frequent speaker and presenter on a variety of topics including software and technology, business strategy, process improvement and organizational culture change.

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