Excel has its strengths; collecting timesheets are not one of them.
Jessica works as an office administrator at a growing IT consulting firm. Like most office administrators, Jessica wears many hats. On top of taking care of the phone, she processes incoming payments, tidies the office, greets clients at the door and on top of it all; she manages the staff timesheet solution: a 15-year-old Excel spreadsheet.
Every Monday morning, Jessica collects an Excel spreadsheet from each consultant who either emails her the file or gets dropped into a shared company folder on the network. The spreadsheet is affectionately called “Buddy,” nobody knows why it is called that, but somewhere it got the name. As she opens each spreadsheet, she checks off a name on a list of employees so that she knows who submitted their time. Then, in a copy and paste action, she merges the time data into a master spreadsheet she uses to bill clients.
The entire process takes her about two hours, and that is if she gets all of the timesheets. Sometimes, consultants are on the road, or they just forgot to submit their timesheet. Of course, the system worked well when the company only had five consultants, but now with 17 and growing, the process of collecting time has taken up more of Jessica’s time.
Here are some reasons why Jessica should ditch the Excel timesheet and move to an online solution:
Jessica has to spend her Monday mornings consolidating all of the individual timesheets into one master sheet. From that sheet, she compiles all of the data into one static report that she uses to bill her clients. Project managers often ask Jessica for more detailed reports, but she doesn’t have the advanced knowledge of Excel or the time to create detailed project costing reports. If she were to use an online solution, all of the timesheet data would be automatically consolidated and ready for multiple canned reports that each department within her company can use.
Accuracy of Data
The memories are still very fresh from that time Jessica mistakenly copied and pasted the same timesheet twice into her master sheet. Thinking that she copied Charlie’s timesheet over, she instead copied Justin’s in duplicate. That one mistake cost the company nearly $2,500 in missed billing, and while she felt terrible about making a mistake, sometimes human error has a play. Ever since that unfortunate day, Jessica has been ultra careful with the data she imports. The extra time it takes to make sure everything checks out is taking her away from the things she does best. Had she been accessing an online timesheet solution, she would have confidence that the reports she shares with her teammates are accurate and up-to-date.
Sharing data within the company has not always been effective for Jessica. When project managers need to know time figures on a particular project, Jessica has to fire up “Buddy” the Excel spreadsheet and work her magic. When managers have corrections to be made, she is the pivot point between the data and the manager. Changes are sometimes lost in the shuffle when exchanging emails. If Jessica had an online timesheet solution, she could quickly make adjustments on the fly so that the next time a project manager pulls out a report, the data would reflect the changes, better yet project managers could even make adjustments themselves.
Having access to real-time and historical data is something that Jessica’s growing IT firm desperately needs. Often she is asked about the health of the projects that they work on, while she is familiar with the Excel spreadsheet she uses, any additional reporting requests is a little beyond her experience level, not to mention she doesn’t have much spare time to figure it out. If she was able to set up automated project alerts on an online system, the data about the health of each project could be sent to each project manager daily, weekly or monthly. Knowledge is power and enabling project time and cost information to be shared automatically from an online timesheet solution is key to making a sound, project time management decision. Having all of the data sitting on an Excel spreadsheet doesn’t empower staff to make informed choices.
One of the most challenging hurdles to getting timesheets in on time from the consultants in Jessica’s office is that they are not near a computer to enter their time. Because they are using Excel to file their time, they need to be sitting at a laptop and connected to their network drive. Having to enter time on a spreadsheet is a chore for them. Having an online cloud-based timesheet solution would allow everyone within the company easy access their timesheet, if they had a mobile app, entering that valuable time would be even more accessible. On top of it all, Jessica would no longer have to make multiple backups of her Excel spreadsheet as her chosen online time tracking solution would take care of that for her.
After a little convincing, Jessica was able to convince her manager to go with an online timesheet solution. She figures she will at least save 104 hours (2 hours per week) or 13 work days a year by not having to consolidate all of the Excel timesheets and then prepare reports. Once she balanced out the cost by how much labour she was putting in, it was a no-brainer decision.
Jessica did her research and found an online timesheet solution that had customized reporting that anyone in the office can create, she found one that had a mobile app, and she found one that helped with project budgeting which was something they never had before with their Excel spreadsheet. On top of the savings of time and money, managers can now directly access reports that they never had access to before and consultants can now fill out their timesheets on their phones.
While they were sad to see him go, “Buddy” the Excel timesheet spreadsheet is now comfortable enjoying retirement inside an archive folder somewhere on the network drive.
** Disclaimer: Dovico is a cloud-based timesheet and time tracking system provider. While the information above is meant to inform you about making the switch to a cloud-based solution, we are not trying to persuade you to buy from us (even though we would love to show you what we got).
For 25 years, Dovico has been helping thousands of customers around the world to deliver successful projects with proven project time and cost saving tools. Ones and zeros make the software; they don’t make the company or the customer experience! Free trial – 14 days – No credit card needed www.dovico.com
Also published on Medium.