A simple timesheet template, or a clever one, which is best?
Let’s break down what this really means when we are talking about a timesheet template.
‘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?
Most organizations need to capture data such as: customers, projects, project tasks, perhaps the type of work, notes, overtime and billing codes etc. There may also be important rules like 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 piece of information needed makes the timesheet system more sophisticated and makes the timesheet less simple and more unfriendly. This is the challenge most customers have – they need a sophisticated timesheet system, but they also need timesheet entry to be simple and easy for end-users.
No one should ever need training to enter a timesheet!
Whereas companies need a sophisticated system that can cope with all of their complexities, they also need it to be simple and easy for end users. So as to not lose sight of the ‘simple, easy timesheet’ requirement, we decided to set a simple goal, a mantra if you like for an easy timesheet:
“No one should ever need training to enter a timesheet.”
But how can a sophisticated timesheet system that can cope with an organization’s complexities have a simple, easy timesheet 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, cumbersome and users hate using it. You know these systems.
But with thoughtful, clever design, Timewatch has been able to create a clever timesheet system that supports all of the sophisticated features organizations need, and make timesheet entry simple and easy for end-users. We utilize two timesheet templates: one timesheet template for organizations to cater for all of the rules, workflow, processes etc. and a second is a simple timesheet template for employees to enter timesheets.
The employee timesheet template learns how users work, what they work on, and seamlessly utilizes the organization’s rules to make timesheet entry easier and faster. It’s the timesheet equivalent of guide rails in ten pin bowling – it helps you it you when you need it, but doesn’t interfere if you don’t.
Although setup is non trivial (Timewatch help customers with this – it’s all part of the service), no end user training is requires.
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.
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 / 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.
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.
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