12 reasons to use online timesheets
Updated 04 July 2022 • 10 min read
Scheduling and time tracking are among the most important administrative functions in any business. Unfortunately, many organisations continue to restrict their performance with outdated processes in this area.
Opting for online timesheet management can help bring your business into the modern age while also saving money and increasing productivity.
Let’s explore online timesheets in more detail and see how they can benefit your business, as well as discussing how to choose the best option.
What is a timesheet?
Timesheets are a method of recording when and how much you work. They can come in many forms: a simple, paper-based system where you log your hours, a spreadsheet-based system, or even specialised cloud software designed specifically for this purpose.
Timesheets are important because they provide a clear record of working time, ensuring that employees are properly compensated for their effort. But, the type of timesheet used is also important, with cloud-based timesheet software being the most effective and efficient in a modern, fast-paced growing business.
Online timesheets: The way forward
Online timesheets are cloud-based software solutions that offer a solution to the problems mentioned above. They provide a simple, powerful, and flexible way to track timesheets that’s unified across all employees in the organisation.
These digital timesheets enable a much more useful timesheet system. It can be accessed from anywhere, it’s free from poor handwriting, mental math errors, and there are no storage issues to work around.
In the next sections, we’ll explore these advantages in more detail.
12 key benefits of using online timesheets
Online timesheets offer a huge number of benefits compared to the alternatives. They don’t just provide a convenient way to track hours — they enable your organisation to operate much more efficiently overall. Let’s look at some of the key advantages.
Reduce manual data entry
One of the primary advantages of online timesheet software is that it reduces or eliminates the need to manually enter data. This is a huge time saver for staff — it not only cuts down on manually writing data but can reduce the amount of manual math needed (which has other benefits, as we’ll see below).
Boost time tracking accuracy
Timesheet software not only saves time but can also drastically cut down on errors. These errors can come from mistakes in mental math, misremembered dates or times, unreadable handwriting, and more. This has ripple effects throughout the entire business, not just timekeeping.
Enable real-time scheduling
A schedule lays out the plan for your working time, while your timesheet lays out the hours you actually worked. Traditional paper schedules are as limited as paper timesheets, in that they’re hard to edit after the fact and have physical limitations.
Online timesheet software often has scheduling features built-in and these can be extremely useful. Real-time scheduling enables you to assign and update schedules in the moment and send the updates directly to your employees’ devices, which can be a great boon to communication, organisation, and planning.
Track when and where employees clock on and off
Online timesheets can offer advanced reporting, including providing you with notifications of when your employees punch the clock. They also introduce the possibility for advanced tracking, like location using the GPS on smartphones, to show where employees are at any given time.
Reduce the amount of time theft
Security checks and more accurate digital input methods help prevent time theft. For example, the GPS locations mentioned above can help verify the time entries employees provide. Ultimately, this leads to lower expenses for the business.
Minimise payroll errors
Providing accurate timesheets for employees leads to more accurate payroll overall. Payroll is often one of the largest expenses (if not the definite largest) for any business, so reducing errors here can save a tremendous amount of money.
Reduce late timesheet submissions
Online timesheet software can help reduce late submissions. This could be through a feature like automated submission, or simply by making it more convenient to submit the timesheet manually. For example, it’s much easier to press a submit button than it is to hand-deliver a paper timesheet.
Eliminate lost timesheets
Similarly, keeping digital timesheets (and submitting them digitally) helps to reduce lost timesheets. There’s also no need to store them, which helps long-term when you need to reference something from a past timesheet.
Improve staff communication
Digital solutions often serve to improve communication. This can happen in a couple of ways. Indirectly, a digital solution fosters transparency by making data readily available. In a more direct way, the software might provide chat or messaging capabilities that make communication easier and more accessible for everyone.
See where employees spend the most time
If your online timesheet system offers more fine-grained data entry points, you can leverage them to improve visibility and accountability. In other words, if employees can enter what they were working on, in addition to when, it provides greater transparency into how your payroll money is being used.
Integrate your existing workflows
If you already have existing workflows around timesheets, you can usually integrate these into online software easily. In fact, you may even find that your workflow is improved by digitising it.
Free up time for HR staff
Taking your timesheets online opens up access to automation and more streamlined ways to handle your payroll. This can ultimately help reduce the burden on your HR department by freeing up time spent policing timesheets and payroll.
What to look for in timesheet software
Now that you’re hopefully convinced that electronic timesheets are the way to go, it’s time to consider your options. There are a lot of choices on the market, so here are a few criteria you can use to select the best option for your business.
The first and perhaps most important criterion to consider is the ease of use. If your platform is too complex or convoluted, your staff will be less likely to embrace it.
And for good reason — if the software is less convenient than paper, you might as well use the paper! You should consider the ease of data entry, submitting timesheets, processing payroll, and any other features you intend to use.
It’s important that whatever software you choose offers customisation options. No solution is going to be one-size-fits-all right out of the box — these customisations enable you to tailor the software into the ideal solution for your particular business.
As mentioned above, the right software solution enables you to gain direct visibility into how your employees are spending their time. Additionally, the online nature of the software means you can access that data anywhere, anytime — especially handy in scheduling emergencies.
Location tracking is a highly useful feature to have in timesheet software. For the employer, it provides accountability and assistance in planning and allocating resources. For the employees, location tracking makes the act of entering their location faster and easier by detecting it automatically.
Timesheet approvals and notifications
With online timesheet software, you can receive notifications for activity on employees’ timesheets.
This can drastically reduce the burden on HR and management because they no longer have to check up on individual employees. Some software extends this to include automated timesheet approvals when they meet criteria, further easing the process for managers and employees alike.
Chances are good that online timesheet software isn’t the only cloud-based solution your business uses. These might include tools for tracking tasks, managing projects, keeping up with sales, and communicating with other workers. It could even include other time tracking software. The right timesheet solution incorporates these with smart integrations.
Drawbacks of paper-based time tracking
The original format for timesheets is naturally paper-based — people have been using paper to keep track of time for, well, a long time. Unfortunately, while this method might feel familiar, it has some serious issues.
Paper timesheets are difficult to update
The first significant problem with any paper-based system is that it’s difficult to update and edit. Things happen, and inevitably you’ll need to go back and make changes to your timesheets. With paper and pen, you’ll need to cross out and annotate the entries, which can quickly get messy. A pencil isn’t much better, and it’s also less secure.
Paper timesheets are more susceptible to time theft
Paper systems leave your business open to time theft — whether accidental or intentional. The manual math needed on paper lends itself to rounding and quick calculations — and thus, human error. Paper-based timesheets also lack the automated timestamps and security features you might find in more advanced systems.
Paper timesheets create tedious admin work for employees
The need to manually update, correct, and keep up with paper timesheets places an unnecessary burden on employees. Time is one of the most valuable resources in any business, so anything that wastes it unnecessarily should be looked at carefully.
Paper timesheets are prone to manual errors
As mentioned above, handwriting hours on paper leaves the records open to mistakes. These can take the form of misremembered times or dates, sloppy handwriting that’s tough to read, or math errors.
Paper timesheets are easily lost or damaged
Small physical objects, like a piece of paper, are prone to disappearing unexpectedly — and often at the most inconvenient times. Additionally, paper is flimsy and easily torn, ripped, smudged, or otherwise damaged. It’s too easy for a paper timesheet to become unreadable and useless.
Paper timesheets hurt employee productivity
When you add up all the time spent updating, editing, and maintaining paper timesheets (not to mention ensuring they don’t get lost!), it’s clear that they represent a major drain on productivity. They’re just too much manual work to be practical when better alternatives exist.
Paper timesheets can be a storage nightmare
Finally, when you use paper timesheets (or any paper, really), you have to consider how you’ll store them. For easy accessibility, you’ll want filing cabinets, but these take up a lot of space. If you want long-term storage (or just to save space), you can store them in boxes, but then you lose easy access to them. And if you ever need to reference one of them, you’ll likely spend a ton of time hunting for it.
Paper timesheets are costly — and they aren’t environmentally friendly
The cost of paper timesheets can be significant, especially if you have hundreds of employees. In addition, they’re not environmentally friendly. If you want to offset the environmental impact of paper timesheets by recycling them, you’ll incur recycling costs, as well.
Say goodbye to paper-based timesheets and scheduling
Whether you just started your business and want to hit the ground running or you’ve been drowning in paper and need rescue urgently, online timesheets offer a fantastic solution. They’re flexible, powerful, and time-saving — everything that paper is not.
MYOB offers intuitive timesheet and rostering software that helps provide accurate data and helpful features that enable you to run your business more efficiently. Check it out today!
Workforce management (WFM): definition, benefits and best practices
What is overtime pay? Definition, types, and calculations
An employer’s guide to running successful performance reviews