We live in a technological world where tedious tasks can be performed with agility and ease. Computers and software can do most of our work for us, whether it’s filing our taxes or ordering groceries. The benefits we gain—namely more time and less margin of error—make this kind of technology appealing to businesses as well. There are several ways in which an automated system that tracks time spent on projects and generates invoice reports will make your work life easier and more profitable.
Your employees’ billable time is the source of your revenue. By capturing time, expenses and other products or services accurately, you will be able to maximize this revenue. The right timesheet system will give you the ability to create customized interfaces to facilitate employee acceptance & compliance, eliminate double entry errors through online approval routing & integration, and even assign multiple billing rates to a single employee.
Shorten the Cash Flow Cycle
Time tracking software can also aid you in reporting project developments and ongoing cost updates. You can store all project cost-related data in a single program, generate and send invoices at any time in the project lifecycle as well as accelerate the billing cycle to improve cash flow. Not only that, but enter and track time from wherever your work takes you—a client’s office, an airport terminal, or anywhere.
Information on Demand
Automated invoice reports will help you identify problems and opportunities quickly, and managers will have access to the information they need on the spot, wherever they are. Thanks to real-time billing data, you can track available budget as well as improve customer relationships by providing clients with access to the data. You can also automate calculations by running reports based on customized billing rules.
Not only does timesheet software make life easier, but it has been proven to be more efficient as well. According to a study done by the University of California, Irvine, fully automating the timesheet process reduces errors by 75 percent. Think about what this, with its associated costs, is worth to your business. It also cuts down on staff time, so members of your staff can spend their time more productively, working towards the mission and goals of the company.
So what does it take to successfully integrate an automated system into your company? There is a simple, three step process that will ensure a smooth transition.
Decision: What Do You Need in a System?
The software you choose will affect your entire company, so it’s best to get all of the various stakeholders involved. Bring in people from research and development, marketing, accounting and human resources. Get their input, figure out what your needs are, and then compile a list of requirements. For example, do you need a system that prevents people from tracking time against projects they shouldn’t have access to? Do you need Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) compliance or very accurate IT capitalization data for the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)? Do you need the system to be rolled out now, as opposed to waiting for them to purchase a machine and transfer it to your IT shop? These are all very important questions that you must answer in order to select the right system.
Selection: How to Choose
The number one mistake that people make when choosing a timesheet vendor is falling for a deceptive demo. You deserve a detailed demonstration that is customized with your employee list, customer list, project list, company logo and color scheme, as well as shows you reports on your data that will prove to you that your business problem is solved. If a vendor does not make you feel absolutely certain about your choice, then look elsewhere.
You also need to consider issues such as support and trial usage. Ask about the vendor’s automated helpdesk tool, as well as whether the support staff is part of the sales team or not. If they are, you are probably more of a priority as a potential buyer than as a customer. You should also seek a trial version of the software that allows you to use it for more than fifteen days. Wouldn’t you like the ability to run a few payroll cycles using the software before you make your decision?
Another thing that is important to know is whether the vendor sells traditional software or software-as-a-service (SaaS). Since most timesheet software is primarily web-based these days, the ideal provider should do both. SaaS means that you rent access to web-based software that runs on the vendor’s server instead of installing it on a server at your office. There are several benefits to this:
SaaS avoids burdening your IT department with yet another package to maintain. Let them focus on the core competency technologies that drive your company’s sustainable competitive advantage.
A monthly fee may be more advantageous than upfront costs. Put the risk of rollout success on the vendor. Why take all that risk?
Even if you choose to install at your own location, SaaS can still provide benefits:
The vendor can let you pilot with the SaaS site until your IT department gets the machine ready for your local installation.
E-mailing a backup to the vendor in case of machine failure at your local installation should let him get your system up on his site instantly in the event of a failure at your site. This avoids the cost of buying spare machines yourself.
The vendor should provide you with a test site during the upgrade process that requires no hardware purchase on your part.
Ask vendors about the specifics—how would you survive a power outage at your SaaS site and where is it hosted? How many connections to the Internet does your SaaS site have? How much does server protection cost? Can you rollout on the SaaS servers and later transfer the data to your own servers? Where are SaaS backup tapes stored? If a vendor promises to deliver certain tasks, get it all in writing.
Implementation: Ensuring a Successful Rollout
Be sure to check references. Seek a reference that is a real company in your industry of your size. You will be putting your time and money into this vendor, so make sure you are completely confident that they are trustworthy before you begin this relationship. Prepare relevant questions in advance. For example, are they using the software in a way that is as complex as yours? Finding the answers to these questions and others is the important final step in choosing the correct system for your company.
The bottom line is that more accurate billing data leads to more profits by eliminating unnecessary costly errors, and an automated system can deliver that. Never again will you have to worry about billable items being lost or under-represented. You can therefore direct your time and energy towards what really matters – your core business strategy – for continuing success and growth.
About the Author:
Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx. Since 1996, Journyx (timesheet software) has remained committed to helping customers intelligently invest their time and resources to achieve per-person, per-project profitability. Curt earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Virginia Tech in 1987. As a software programmer fixing bugs for IBM in the early ‘90’s, Curt Finch found that tracking the time it took to fix each bug revealed the per-bug profitability. Curt knew that this concept of using time-tracking data to determine project profitability was a winning idea and something that companies were not doing – yet… Curt created the world’s first web-based timesheet application and the foundation for the current Journyx product offerings in 1997. Curt is an avid speaker and writer. Learn more about Curt here.