What to look for in a time and billing system
Timewatch’s top 10 to choose the best time and billing system for your business
Time and billing software helps companies track the time spent on customer tasks and projects, and produce or help produce invoices. But how do you go about deciding which is the best platform to use to make sure you are billing accurately and efficiently? These are the top ten tips when choosing a time and billing system:
1. Be absolutely clear on what you need
Are you looking for a “simple” and “easy” system? Who doesn’t want simple and easy? But simple and easy doesn’t always mean GOOD. Too simple may mean considerable manual work for administrators, managers, and billing staff.
When making a decision about what type of time and billing software you need, be sure to consider the entire time and billing process and make sure you know exactly what problem you need to solve right now and also what challenges may exist in the future.
2. Short term fix or long-term solution?
Generally it is better to buy something you can grow into rather than something you will quickly grow out of. All systems have limits, and eventually these become serious limitations which can only be resolved by replacing the system, which is a waste of your time and resources.
If Covid-19 has taught us anything in the past couple of years it is that things change, sometimes quite unexpectedly and dramatically. Businesses have to be able to adapt to unexpected change. There will always be changes to our working environments, and if you want your business to be in for the long haul, you need a system that can adapt and change to a new way of doing things if required.
Adaptability and scalability are key features of the best time and billing solutions that can cope with change, grow as you grow, and provide a long-term solution.
‘Buying right the first time around’ usually saves in the long run. Take the time to consider the time and cost benefits in choosing a system that can grow and adapt rather than one you replace after a few years.†-see how we do this
3. Capture all the information you need – avoid garbage in and garbage out
Billing is often driven by timesheet and expenses data. For accurate billing it is crucial that data entry is configured to perfectly support your timesheet, billing, management and reporting needs.
Most systems capture either too little information or too much information. Both extremes present problems for accurate billing. Too little information hinders everything from billing to timesheet management, reporting and integration with financials. Too much information wastes time, can lead to confusion and delays in payment and ultimately causes data entry and user acceptance issues.
Don’t compromise, compromising costs money. Make sure your system has the flexibility to perfectly meet your data entry requirements today, and can adapt to future changes.
4. Make timesheet entry easy and fast.
Notice we didn’t say ‘simple and easy’. Simple means limited, basic, you don’t want this. You don’t have to compromise your time and billing system to make timesheet entry easy and fast. A clever time and billing system can be trained to implement all your rules, procedures and workflow so that end user timesheet entry is simple, easy and fast.† See how we do this
5. Leverage systems such as Outlook, Teams, Google, EPR, CRM etc.
You use these tools to streamline your workflow so why not use them to streamline timesheets and billing? You should also ensure your time and billing system integrates with ALL financial software – not just the big names. Your system probably includes plugins for Quickbooks, Sage, and Xero but what about the more powerful mid-range and enterprise solutions such as Dynamics, SAP, Oracle or some of the lesser known systems?† See how we do this
6. Don’t compromise the way you value time
If you value time, you need a system that can value cost and charge rates in exactly the way your organization values time.
Most systems have simple rates with a handful of rates per employee. What if you need more? What if rates need to change by customer, by project, by date, by employee role, by type of work being done, by a combination of these or by some custom logic your organization uses? You might not have such rates today, but you might in the future. You need a system that can cope with anything, so don’t compromise, compromising costs real money.
Also, think about multi-currency. If you bill in multiple locations around the world then you will likely have to bill in multiple currencies. This will translate into more accurate billing and greater revenue. If you don’t bill in foreign currencies now – what about next year? Implementing a new system is costly and time consuming, so plan ahead. If there is even a remote possibility for the need for multi-currency, find a system with a multi-currency option.† See how we do this
7. Use a system that matches your own company’s billing rules – perfectly
No matter how simple or how challenging your requirements are, your time and billing system should work for you, not the other way around.
Your time and billing system should be able to support all your billing rules, rates, procedures, workflow and security needs. This will result in reduced administration, the elimination of many errors, fewer questions from customers, faster invoice settlement, and maximized revenue. Makes sense, right?† See how we do this
8. Make sure your time & billing system simplifies operations
You don’t want a time and billing system that makes operations more complicated.
Although you may have complex rules, rates, procedures, workflow or security / approval processes, your system should be able to learn and implement these to your simplify time and billing operations. It should be possible to set templates to perfectly match your invoice layout and link with your financials. At the most basic level, your software should be built around your business needs. All complex timesheet and billing rules should be set up behind the scenes to make everything much simpler and quicker for you and your employees.
† See how we do this
9. Time & billing reporting and analytics must be powerful and open
It’s your data. Own it, there should be no limits in reporting.
Does you system provide a report writer? Reports, analytics, business intelligence – whatever you call it – are valuable tools. Make sure it works perfectly for you. There is no point getting data into a system if you can’t get it out in the format you need it in. A good system should be open and have a report writer available should you ever need analytics. † See how we do this
10. Ensure you system is secure, lower risk
Security should go without saying, but it doesn’t. Although security in cloud based systems is a first consideration, mobile apps are often overlooked, and iPhone or Android apps leave a ‘back door’ open.
Mobile apps download data to the phones – which is a serious security risk. Industry experts estimate that around 80 percent of all mobile apps have been hacked. This poses is a serious security risk to organizations and a risk made worse if the mobile devices are personal and outside of the security control of an organization.† Learn more
- Be absolutely clear on what you need
- Choose if you need a short term fix or long-term solution
- Capture all the information you need – avoid garbage in and garbage out
- Do everything you can to make timesheet entry easy and fast.
- Leverage systems such as Outlook, Teams, Google, EPR, CRM etc.
- Don’t compromise the way you value time
- Use a system that matches your own company’s billing rules – perfectly
- Make sure your time & billing system simplifies operations
- Time & billing reporting and analytics must be powerful and open
- Ensure you system is secure, lower risk
†Let us show you how we meet all of the top ten time and billing tips.
It’s important that any software investment is the right one.
Just like you, we want to make sure our products are right for you. This is why we provide free access to system implementors who can show how our time and billing systems can be configured to meet your needs, and these top ten tips.
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During Covid we’ve seen communication platforms and collaborative interfaces change the way we work – whether we are logging in from home or returning to the office. Many businesses have also had to rethink how they keep track of work and project time for employees.
With Timewatch, your employees can prefill their timesheet from their Google calendar, and save hours each week. Google appointments already hold a date, start and end time, duration, subject, location & notes, why not use this data rather than type it all in again?
Outlook appointments already hold most of the information needed for a timesheet, why not let staff post it to their timesheet, and save them hours each week?
Teams is a great collaboration tool, and works perfectly in the more prevalent remote working environment we have now. Teams has all of the details of meetings, both internal and external, the exact same information that needs to be entered into a timesheet. Our new Teams integration lets employees turn their Teams meetings into timesheets at the click of a button – increasing timesheet accuracy, reducing time taken to enter timesheets to seconds, saving time – around 2-4 hours a week. Time that would be better spent on productive tasks.
ISO 9001 is the International Standard for Quality Management Systems, addressing the principles and processes surrounding the design, development, and delivery of products or services. By participating in certification, Timewatch demonstrates its commitment to delivering quality products and services.
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