13 reasons why using a spreadsheet as a timesheet is a bad idea

Spreadsheets are great to use for many things. Using a spreadsheet as an improvised timesheet is not a great idea. Using a spreadsheet as an improvised timesheet is actually the opposite of best practice for your business, yet it is surprisingly common how many businesses use spreadsheet timesheet solutions.

30 second overview:

  • Spreadsheet timesheets are surprisingly common in businesses
  • They are seen as “free”, but they come at a real cost
  • There’s no validation, it’s easy to make mistakes, it wastes employees, managers & admins time
  • They cause stress when the person(s) that created the spreadsheet is sick, on holiday, or leave
  • It’s not a database, there is no true multi-user functionality and no reporting
  • They cost more in lost time and revenue than buying a system built for the job
  • They are not ISO or SOC 2 compliant and a potential security risk

Why do companies use spreadsheet timesheets?

Organizations often begin to use spreadsheets as a stop-gap measure, and keep plugging gaps until they’ve had enough – often waiting too long before transitioning to a professional time recording system. It’s often only after years of growth that companies recognize the need for something built for purpose, something that will save the business and staff time and money, but can cater to all of the rules and nuances in their spreadsheet timesheet.

Why using spreadsheets as timesheets is a bad idea

  1. Single user access

    Multi-use access is limited, consolidating individual spreadsheet timesheets is problematic and time consuming.

  2. Data inconsistency

    There is no data verification so incorrect spellings – among other issues – can lead to major mistakes.

  3. Only one person knows how the spreadsheet works

    What happens if something goes wrong and the employee that wrote the spreadsheet, the rules, macros, or code is sick, on holidays or leaves?

  4. Update! Update! Update!

    New versions of Excel often cause system and data issues.

  5. Huge amount of manual effort

    Huge amount of manual effort
    To extract, collate, and report on data is very difficult unless you are an Excel genius.

  6. Lack of deployment flexibility

    Need to be connected to use it. There is no web interface/mobile option.

  7. Lack of security

    If you have access to The Spreadsheet (yes, that is in capital letters) you can see all the data. The same applies to anyone else.

  8. It isn’t really “free”

    Tip: nothing is actually free. Yes, you may have Excel already, but there is always some trade off for a “free” product. Just minutes of billable consultancy lost per month pays for our system – not to mention the saving on admin time.

  9. Excel is easy to use

    Yes, Excel is easy to use – it’s also easy to make mistakes when you are using Excel for a timesheet. A system designed for as a timesheet will always be easier, faster and more accurate than a spreadsheet.

  10. Excel and its complicated relationship with Outlook

    Excel does not allow users to interface with their Outlook bookings. Oh.

  11. User defined rules PER USER

    With a spreadsheet, each user invents their own rules for their own timesheet. Autonomy is one thing, chaos is another.

  12. Does Excel Allow Managers Authorization?

    No, its a spreadsheet. A professional organization needs managers to approve timesheets, and with spreadsheets, this would require a manual process.

  13. Excel only has one method of entry

    In the spreadsheet, and realistically, on a PC. Mobile spreadsheets are a pain, there is no integration with Outlook, Google or Teams, whereas a professional system like Timewatch’s allows users to prefill their timesheet from Outlook, or Google calendars as well as Teams calls.

A timesheet solution that is easy to use and supports the way you do business

We agree that a benefit of Excel is that it is flexible and users can set up a spreadsheet to work in whatever way they want it to. We know many off-the-self timesheet software solutions have no flexibility in the way they must be set up. We often hear from companies that use Excel that they have unique working practices that off-the-shelf timesheet systems can’t support.

The Timewatch solution is different from other options. It is highly configurable.

We’ve never once had an issue with a user upgrading from Excel and not being able to accommodate an unusual nuance in the way that they prefer to manage their time tracking that could not configure our system to support. Never.

“Excel is free,” you may say. That’s a fact yet there is a real cost that is often overlooked – the cost to create and maintain a spreadsheet and the cost of time lost in using Excel to enter timesheets. There are savings to be made for your business in time and money.

A Timewatch timesheet solution costs money to use but it saves our customers between 10 and 200 times more. Ask us to show you the date that proves this.

Want to Learn More?

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us via chat, or book a call with a product specialist who can show you the system in operation.

Speak with a specialist

You know your business, we know our software. Working together we can save each other time – let’s talk!

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