How To Improve Your Time-Entry Solution

Posted by Russell Clark, Director of Consulting Services on December 17, 2013

time and expenses

Everyone loves completing timesheets, right? OK, wrong. The challenge with time recording is that everyone finds it burdensome and yet if you are a Professional Services Organisation, the analysis of how your time has been spent is an essential metric.

The conundrum around time recording is that end users need to complete time sheets quickly so that they can focus on getting back to more interesting things and the organisation requires detailed analysis of its most precious and perishable resource – employee time. The ability to accurately report on time spent is a key differentiator between organisations who are able to determine profitability and utilisation metrics and those who are not. The mistake many organisations make is to assume that because time reporting needs to be detailed, time entry will also be detailed and this often translates into a laborious process for the end user. This doesn’t have to be the case.

Most time sheet recording solutions have a whole range of data that can be tracked, from simple time spent to additional analysis codes, estimate to complete variations, budget comparisons and fluctuations against standard hours. This can lead to complexity, which is the polar opposite to the process required in order to gain compliance from your users. As an example, a colleague of mine once spent two hours demonstrating a timesheet interface! This does not leave a great impression.

The truth is that a time sheet should take a few minutes to complete and should not include features which don’t add value.

How can you make the most of a time recording solution?

  1. Enable simple time recording 
    Time recording should be simple and still allow for complex reporting. Look for a method to default or inherit key data from the time entered, don’t place this burden on the end user 

  2. Reduce data entry
    What do you really want to know from a time sheet? Unless you find real business value in analysis of time by detailed task on each project, keep your analysis list short. Presented with an option, most users will select “other” 

  3. Encourage accuracy 
    Even if you are not billing time directly, your profitability or utilisation metrics rely on accurate data. So find a solution which helps people keep up to date 

  4. Select the right tool
    It’s important to know your users. Mobile interfaces are great for remote workers; some office based workers simply prefer using a mobile 

  5. Have a purpose
    Understanding why you are capturing time is important and sharing that information aids buy-in and informs the level of detail you need to encourage