A 5-Step Guide to Automating Time Tracking in Your Team

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Photo by Veri Ivanova

Long gone are the days of paper timesheets and digital spreadsheets! Today, automation is key to the success of any business and team. It boosts efficiency and reduces costs by streamlining the completion of routine tasks and letting you stay focused on what’s really important. So, when it comes to time tracking, automation is also a way to go. And if you still have been using paper timesheets in your company, now it’s high time to make that shift.

Good news: automating time tracking is easy! All you need to do is choose a time tracking app that makes a perfect match for your team and follow the five simple steps described below.

But before you do that, let’s have a look at the major benefits that a fine piece of time tracking software can offer.

Why Is It Important to Streamline Time Tracking?

One can spend hours just completing paper timesheets every day. Not to mention that reviewing and analyzing them eats up a significant portion of supervisors’ working time per month. But time tracking software simplifies these processes a great deal. First, you can fill in and edit your digital timesheets in just a few clicks or let an automatic timer keep a record of each minute spent on tasks. Then, the reporting functionality, which most time trackers include, will summarize all the data for you and present them in the form of beautiful charts and graphs. No need to recheck and calculate anything yourself!

When automating time tracking, you get a more detailed and accurate record of hours spent on different tasks, which gives a deeper insight into how you and your team utilize time. Accuracy means not only fewer errors in payroll and billing but also much better learning from your work and time tracking experiences. Looking at a comprehensive breakdown of completed tasks and all the hours spent on them, you’ll be able to identify inefficiencies and time wasters with ease, reflect on their causes and then adapt accordingly.

Besides helping you to monitor the use of time, a good time tracking app can provide other types of essential project performance data, such as earnings, costs of work, employee compliance with task estimates, etc. Also, many time trackers include some handy task and work scope management features for smarter workload planning and easy progress monitoring. This way, a simple piece of software can foster a more successful project management experience and enable you to attain superior work outcomes.

Automate Time Tracking in Five Simple Steps

Finding a perfect timesheet app is by far the most challenging part of the process of time tracking automation. After you succeed in that, the rest can be done rather effortlessly with the right approach:

Before you can start to track time in an online timesheet, you must add all the planned project tasks to the system. This step can’t be skipped even if you want to use a fully automated time tracker. To enable an AI-supported time tracking system to read and log users’ behaviors in a streamlined fashion, you need to feed it with all the necessary information to learn and understand what you normally do at work and how you do it.

People resist change. Even when you’re trying to alter just a tiny workplace routine your employees are accustomed to, there is a risk they will be reluctant to accept your suggestions and will develop a negative attitude to new norms. To avoid that, be smart about introducing a piece of time tracking software to your team:

  • Be sure to communicate all the problems it will help you resolve and all the benefits it will provide for your business as a whole and each employee personally.
  • Clearly explain what your time tracking tool is meant for. If you won’t, your colleagues may start to think that you’re going to use this software to spy on them. Thus, don’t be shy to address their fears about time tracking.
  • Engage in a constructive dialog, listen to your team members’ opinions and concerns and don’t regret spending enough time making sure everyone understands the advantages of using an online timesheet.

According to the Time Is Money report, such routine tasks as meetings and calls result in the leak of nearly $32,000 revenue a year simply because they are not tracked properly and are left to consume an enormous portion of employees’ working time. But by shifting from weekly to daily time tracking, a business may recover as much as $52,000 per worker a year! Hence, it makes total sense to encourage your team members to track time regularly.

How? Explain to them that poor time tracking is costly, show the benefits of regular time tracking, gamify the process and reward timely timesheet completion. Most importantly, adopt a simple-to-use app with an option to track hours automatically. Daily time tracking doesn’t have to feel like a chore. By choosing a simple piece of software, you’ll reduce employees’ reluctance to fill their timesheets on time.

Making use of the timesheet locking feature is another way to motivate your team to track time daily. It ensures that timesheet data is not added, edited or deleted by employees after a particular period has passed. Thus, in case you calculate payroll based on hourly rates, the failure to complete a timesheet within the predefined timeframe — be that a week or month — will result in lower pay or time off reductions for an employee.

Of course, abusing this type of negative motivation may be harmful to your team morale. Thus, utilize it in moderation and don’t completely deprive your employees of an opportunity to change their timesheets when necessary.

Before locking the time tracking data and proceeding with payroll calculation, review the completed timesheets, approve them if everything is fine or reject if some last-minute edits are required from your colleagues. This way, you’ll increase timesheet data accuracy without compromising your teammates’ satisfaction and loyalty.

The last but not least step in the process of time tracking automation is reporting. Whenever you need to review how well your team uses time, check on compliance with project estimates and see how much income different tasks have produced, just generate a report or chart with a single click on a button in your app account. Many time tracking software products also help users create error-free invoices automatically or export data to various third-party tools. Such streamlined data processing and integration will save you much time and boost performance multifold.

Originally published at actitime.com

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