Time Tracking

Why You Should Switch From Manual Timesheets to Smart Time Tracking

October 24, 2022

Getting your employees to fill in and submit their timesheets is perhaps one of the most daunting aspects of managing a team. You have to roll out daily and weekly emails to practically beg your team to log their time, so you could finally calculate those work hours and create performance reports. 

But that’s just the manual timesheets. 

Then comes the modern smart time tracking solutions that are time-saving, hassle-free, and most importantly, loved by both managers and employees.

In this blog post, we’ll take a brief look at both approaches and go into detail about which one is better for your team:

Manual Timesheets

These can be physical time-in, time-out clocks or fingerprint/face readers (Lord save us from these old-fashioned ways of logging time). Then there are digital methods involving creating long Excel sheets with a hundred rows about which project your team worked on and the time they spent on it.

These timesheets require your team to manually log hours at the day’s end. But the truth is, most of them will log them every two days; some will even wait till the week’s end and a million reminders before they finally sit down to do it.

Smart Time Trackers

These are desktop applications that track everything your team does and automatically create timesheet entries for users. This saves you and your team a significant amount of non-value-adding effort and, of course, time. 

However, a lot of these tools invade your team’s privacy by recording non-productive activities that no one would want to share with their managers. This could be their personal browsing information or bank account details that they may have checked during the day.

Recommended reading: Employee Surveillance: Is it Actually Affecting Work Productivity?

Then there are other better variants with all the features of smart time trackers, minus the surveillance. These apps give autonomy to your employees over what they want to share with managers.

Manual Timesheets Have Strings Attached

It’s annoying when despite constant reminders, there is always that one person who still forgets (or ignores on purpose) to submit their timesheet, or has no recollection of the work they did throughout the week.

Inaccurate time tracking and delays in manually filling out timesheets cost your company a lot more than you think. Research suggests that employees don’t record a lot of time-taking routine activities like attending meetings or dealing with clients into their timesheets, which is costing companies billions of dollars every day! 

Moreover, it’s not exactly ‘job done’ once you have your team’s data; you then have to:

  • Manually visit each Excel sheet of individual employee
  • Audit the sheets to ensure their accuracy 
  • Extract insights from them to find areas that are taking the least and most of your team’s time and effort

This is several hours’ worth of effort right there. And we bet you don’t enjoy one bit of it.

Newsflash: your team doesn’t really enjoy filling those lengthy sheets either. We know this from personal experience and the countless rants employees have made about the fact on Twitter.

This is mainly because manually logging timesheets is a tedious process that involves recalling all the different tasks you did and then individually entering them into those old-school Excel spreadsheets. Neither employees like doing it over and over again, nor does this process add any value points when it comes to performance evaluation, which gives them more reason to put off maintaining timesheets.

The problem is, you cannot let go of time tracking because a major part of your project’s costing or team’s overall productivity depends upon it.

Managers Are Turning to Smart Time Tracking Alternatives 

Employers are seeking solutions to mitigate these challenges of maintaining manual timesheets so they:

  • Don’t have to run after team members to update timesheets
  • Don’t have to sort each employee’s log individually 
  • Are able to get accurate logs against each work-related task or activity

Let’s look at a few more reasons why you should absolutely switch from manual timesheets to smart time tracking:

They involve very little effort (everybody loves less work)

Smart time tracking solutions are designed to provide ease and flexibility to both you and your employees. For starters, your team is no longer required to take out a good chunk of their time (especially if they forget to log time for a few days) because the desktop app is already keeping track of all their work. 

All they have to do is take a few minutes out at the end of the day and pick only the work-related highlights they want to share with you. It’s less work for you as well since you don’t have to run after your team to submit daily logs.

Everybody wins, hurray!

You don’t have to worry about any potential human errors 

Some employees prefer logging time right before they wind up work for the week. Unless they have photographic (eidetic) memory like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, there is no way they can remember every detail of what they did on Monday or even Wednesday. They end up logging incomplete, inaccurate timesheets, which messes up your reporting numbers. While this may be an honest mistake for some people, others do it to hide their unproductive hours deliberately. 

Also read: 5 Creative Ways That Employees Cheat Surveillance Methods

Time logs are your business’s direct costs, especially if you’re billing your clients per hour; you can lose hundreds of thousands of dollars per annum if these logs are off by even a small margin. You want concrete, granular data about how much time your team has spent on each task. 

Smart time-tracking tools provide you just that by automating time tracking for your team. This keeps employees from logging times based on their assumptions and estimations and provides you reports with accurate hours worked down to the second. 

You get deeper insights into your team’s performance 

Insights around your team’s time and performance is a goldmine that empowers managers to make better project planning and team management decisions. You get to tap into your team’s current working capacity which enables you to identify the total number hours you can allocate to the projects at hand.

Smart time trackers also carry data from days, weeks, and years ago, allowing you to compare past vs. current performances to identify how your team’s productivity has grown over time. All of this is impossible with manual timesheets as they lack the basic feature to automatically identify individual and team working capacity; unless you integrate third-party analytics tools with them, which can be tedious and costly. 

Your team exhibits a steep rise in productivity

An average employee spends around 15 minutes on timesheets every day. Let’s do the math here: if you have 50 employees, that is 750 minutes (or 62.5 hours per 5-day week) unaccounted for. This is more than an employee’s entire week’s work shift; just imagine the cost you incur in lost productivity. 

Smart time trackers reduce that time to merely a minute per employee. By automating data collection and timesheet creation, employees are left with just picking the productive task-wise activities and hitting the submit button. This, in turn, allows them to spend the rest of their time on completing the tasks at hand. 

Smart Time Trackers Take Things to the Next Level

Accurate insights and zero-hassle time-logging are not the only things smart time trackers are good at; they also assist you in other managerial activities, such as:

Acing Project Planning

It is critical to track the progress of each task and compare how your employees are performing against your estimated project time, so you could plan deadlines accordingly. Modern time tracking solutions provide you with a holistic view of each employee’s performance against the team, making project planning a breeze for you! 

Creating Error-free Invoices Within Minutes 

You can spend hours manually calculating billable hours and still end up making human errors, which will translate into under- or over-charging your clients. Smart time tracking tools automate this entire workflow and complete this laborious job for you in mere minutes. All that’s left to do then is to share the invoice with your client, and that too can be done from the same place. 

Developing Business-Specific KPIs to Boost Performances

Each business has its own KPIs to gauge employee performance. Smart time trackers not only allow you to create them for your company, but also leverage insights gathered through the same tool to identify the levels of productivity at different stages of the workflow. Some solutions even offer gamification features like virtual awards that you can use to motivate your team.

Smart Time Trackers Sound Dope! Where can I Find One?

Right here, my friend. 

timegram provides smart time tracking features that take the manual timesheet chore away from everyone. It helps you keep track of tasks, projects, and teams, transform hours worked into productivity and ROI-related insights, and do a lot more from an intuitive, seamless interface. 

It takes things a step ahead by shunning the infamous surveillance tactics and respecting your team’s privacy by giving them the much-needed freedom to log work-related time and activities only while keeping everything else private. 

If you want to switch to a smart time tracker with ethical boundaries, timegram’s what you’re looking for.

Learn more about our product here

Or get started right away.

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Umer Asad

About the author

Umer is a creative geek, a soccer enthusiast, and a self-proclaimed standup comedian. He brings over half a decade of writing experience to the table with a knack for the SaaS niche. In his free time, you’ll find him in queues at fast food chains, playing PUBG, or doing adventure traveling.

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