A simple timesheet template, or an easy one, which do you want?

Let’s break this down.

‘Simple’ means, basic, limited in functionality, few if any rules, the same for everyone. When we ask customers what they mean by simple and why they want simple, they say they want the timesheet to be easy for end-users.

Does a system need to be simple for the timesheet to be easy? (Spoiler alert: No)

The simplest timesheet possible would be one that logs an employee name, a date, and hours worked. It’s pretty much the old punch-in, punch out, timecard. It would certainly be easy to use, but does it capture the data companies need?

How do you make a simple timesheet? Most organizations need to capture data such as: customers, projects, project tasks, perhaps the type of work, notes, overtime and billing codes etc. Companies want a simple weekly timesheet, but there are often important rules such as minimum hours, who can work on which projects, when timesheets must be posted by, an approval process, who has access to approvals, etc.

Each additional timesheet rule needed makes the timesheet system more sophisticated and makes the timesheet less simple and more unfriendly. This is the challenge most customers have – how do you have a sophisticated timesheet system with the rules and complexity needed for the business, but also have the simple timesheet entry that end-users need?

No one should ever need training to enter a timesheet!

We set about creating a timesheet that was both simple and easy for end users, but had all of the sophistication and ‘under the hood power’ that companies needed to cope with all of their rules, data capture, reporting needs and complexities. To help keep our eyes on the prize of the ‘simple, easy timesheet’ requirement, we decided to set a simple goal, a mantra if you like for a the timesheet:

“No one should ever need training to enter a timesheet.”

No Training Needed

But how can a sophisticated timesheet system that can cope with an organization’s complexities have a simple, easy timesheet for end-users? To answer that we added in all of the complexity every organization we came across needed, and defined the configuration options that would be needed to cope with them all. We then looked at how all of this configurability could be used to make the timesheet easier for end users – the ‘Tesla of timesheets’ if you like. The Tesla is the easiest car to drive because it is very clever, and we applied the same approach – make the timesheet clever so that it is the easiest possible for end users.

Introducing the clever timesheet system

All medium to high-end timesheet systems suffer from the same problem – by catering to complex business needs, the timesheet becomes unfriendly, slow, and cumbersome, which people not surprisingly don’t like using it. You know these systems.

But with thoughtful, clever design, Timewatch has been able to simple complex timesheet system that supports all of the sophisticated features organizations need, an a simpler and easier to use timesheet than a simple timesheet system. Effectively, there are two timesheet templates: one timesheet template for organizations that caters to all of the rules, workflow, processes, etc., and the second uses all of the rules and processes to make a simple timesheet template for employees to enter timesheets.

For example, with each additional timesheet rule we set about using that rule to make the timesheet simpler for end users:

  • Adding security rules of who can work on what projects is used to create timesheet picklists specific to each user
  • Setting lifetimes to projects and sub-project levels automatically adds items to users picklists as they become active, and removes them when they are no longer active
  • Timesheet minimum hours and posting rules can be used to help users by showing them how complete they are and alert them when there are things to do
  • By learning what people are working, the system can predict what people are working on
  • By linking the timesheet to email, the system can prefill people’s timesheet with calendar entries, reminding what they worked on earlier in the week and letting them add these items to their timesheet
  • Where minimum hours rules are needed, the timesheet can color code days to highlight which days need more time added and which need to be submitted

With Timewatch timesheets, we view the complexity added by various timesheet rules like guide rails in ten-pin bowling – they should be able to be used to make timesheet entry easier, faster and reduce errors – helping you if you when you need it but doesn’t interfering with you when you don’t.

Although the initial setup of the timesheet system is non-trivial, this is a service Timewatch provides customers to ensure their system is configured to their needs. Once done, end-users do not need any training as the timesheet  looks like a timesheet that was designed specifically for them!

How does it work?

As every employee has their own personal timesheet template that works perfectly for them, everyone’s timesheet is the simplest, easiest, and fastest it can possibly be for them.

However, even though timesheet entry is simple and easy to complete, there are no compromises at the company or administration end of the chain. With rules and security already set behind the scenes, end-user timesheets are entered more quickly, are posted with fewer delays, and are entered more accurately. End-user acceptance is also much higher and administration overheads are reduced to near zero.

Timesheet Template Setup

Example of some of the company timesheet template rules that can be set.

With the company timesheet template rules managing timesheet entry, the benefits are impressive. Timesheet errors can be eradicated, saving administrators days each month. Employees and approvers can receive escalating auto-reminders, timesheets always meet minimum hours, manager approval is streamlined, missing timesheets and late timesheets are a thing of the past.

The classic spreadsheet timesheet template format

The classic spreadsheet / grid style of timesheet

The typical timesheet template is a two-dimensional grid. It is easy to understand, but cannot easily show notes or start/end time per day without becoming unwieldy. Where these fields are important, Timewatch’s calendar style timesheet template makes timesheet entry even easier.

Calendar timesheet template style

A calendar can show all the same information as the classic timesheet, however users benefit from a visual representation of their timesheet completeness.

The solid blue appointments represent posted items, green are Outlook (or Teams) appointments ready to post, and red appointments are ones that need a customer/project to post. Additionally, users can see notes and start/end times for each timesheet entry on one screen.

Calendar timesheet template

The calendar timesheet template links with Outlook.
Users can post Outlook appointments directly to their timesheet.

Users can flip back and forth between the spreadsheet and calendar timesheet templates, and default to whichever is their favorite layout.

Each format implements the company’s timesheet template rules behind the scenes. Users cannot book time to the wrong project or customer, they cannot post too few hours, book time to a project or task that has not started, has closed or is not open to them. They cannot edit or delete time that has already been approved. If time is moved, there is a full audit trail of changes.

To users, their timesheet is simple and easy, even though behind the scenes it is actually incredibly sophisticated and provides all of the workflow, control, rules, security and reporting the company needs.

Bonus Outlook, Teams and Google integration

The Timewatch calendar timesheet template has seamless integration with Outlook, Teams and Google. Appointments in employees’ calendars are transparently displayed in their timesheet and can be added to their timesheet. Adding an Outlook or Google appointment just requires a customer or project to be allocated to the appointment. Alternatively, by mapping customers or projects to their Outlook Categories, users can post timesheets just by allocating categories to their appointments.

What if things change?

Things always change, but as the company timesheet template is configured to match your organization’s needs (Timewatch help you do this), it can be reconfigured as your needs evolve and change in the future.

A clever timesheet template system beats the simple one every time

Contact us to see how our clever timesheet can streamline your timesheet processes, make timesheet entry simple and easy for your users, and provide your organization with reporting and analytics that perfectly meet your needs.

Discuss your requirements

You know your business, we know our software. Working together we can save you valuable time. If you are interested in our solutions, let’s talk.

We provide free access to product specialists because we’ve found that by letting prospects speak directly with the people that implement our systems, they get the answers they need more quickly, and are more likely to become customers. Contact us today to book a free session with an implementation specialist.

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