If you’re in the business of selling time, time tracking software is a no-brainer tool to have. When it’s time to bill your clients for your efforts, collecting and calculating that time shouldn’t be an added pain. It’s essential to have a time management process in place and then match that to your timesheet software. If you’re looking for a place to start, here are some standard time-tracking methods.
How do companies track employee time with time tracking software?
Often the most typical way of entering time, employees enter the duration against the task they performed. Durational time-tracking is the preferred option when there isn’t a time-of-day requirement for tracking task work.
Example: On Monday, Shannon records 3 hours of design-related task work for a highly-profitable engineering project. Then she logs 3 hours working on a proposal for a new uptown project. She then enters 1 hour for her lunch break and 0.5 hours for breaks.
When it comes time to bill the client, all we see are 3 hours of billable work from Shannon for that client on Monday. There is no reference to if she worked on it in the morning or the afternoon.
Unlike durational, chronological time-keeping requires that employees log start and end times of all task work on a timesheet. When it’s time to bill a client, start and end times are tabulated and used to formulate an invoice. A schedule of the time worked may be attached to that invoice as proof of when that client-related task work took place.
Example: Steve works for a company receiving a government grant to help recoup some of his wages on a new application they’re developing. For auditing purposes, the grant requires detailed time-keeping records, including who, what, when, where, and how many hours. When Steve begins work on a research task related to the application, he starts the digital timer. When his work is complete, he hits the stop button. The task, date and time, and duration are recorded for detailed reporting later on.
For a more general time-keeping structure, an exception-based system calculates working hours around approved time off or other absences. This system assumes that the employee is working on tasks whenever they’re in the office for their specified hours.
Example: Brooks typically works 37.5 hours on various administrative tasks for one client. And all of his working hours are billable to that specific client. However, Brooks’s time on leave is not billed to the client. So, whenever he takes a sick day, a stat holiday, or a vacation day, the system deducts 7.5 hours from the regular 37.5 billable hours for every day he is not in the office.
As the name suggests, employees clock-in when they start their workday, then clock-out when they’re finished. Like the old punch-card time tabulation systems of the 1900s, that’s all there is to it. Workers are paid based on the amount of time that they have logged into the system.
Example: Fred Flintstone arrives to work at the Slate Rock and Gravel Company. He grabs his stone time-card from the shelf and gets the dinosaur to chomp down on it to stamp the clock in time. He then puts in a day’s work and then repeats the process of stamping his card on his way out.
In a big brother-like scenario, the time system logs time-worked based on the employee’s activity versus idle time. An installed time-keeping application on the employee’s workstation would track mouse movements, keystrokes and even screen captures to detect work performed. This system would require very little interaction from the employee itself.
Example: Jackson works at a call-center taking technical support calls from customers of various clients. Whenever he activates the knowledgebase software on his workstation, a timer automatically captures his activity and tabulates when he spends time on a call with a client’s customer. The company Jackson works for then bills the client for that call time.
As you would think, location-based time tracking calculates time worked based on where an employee is doing the work. An employee’s work time is tracked for how long they spend on the job site, typically using GPS technology.
Example: Stacy works for a natural gas equipment company. Her work truck has a GPS tracking device, and that’s all she needs to track her client’s billable time. Her work schedule is prepared ahead of time, complete with the client’s address. So as she shows up for work servicing the client’s natural gas appliances, her time is tracked and billed the moment she leaves the client’s parking lot.
Time-keeping can take on many different forms, and you can apply multiple methods depending on the project work that needs to be done. Choosing the right timesheet system that can accommodate your time-keeping methods is crucial to being profitable with your time and getting adoption from employees.