The common ways to track employee time include:
* Manual timekeeping on a time register
* Time clocks or punch-in tools
* Automated time-and-attendance solutions
* Mobile apps
* GPS clock-ins
The simple timesheet approval process is given below.
1) Employee creates the Timesheet
2) Employee submits the timesheet to approver
3) Approver reviews the timesheet
4) Approved timesheets are sent to payroll
5) Rejected timesheets are sent back to the employee for correction and resubmission.
Timesheet entries must differentiate between billable and non-billable approvals. Knowing the difference between 2 types simplifies the timesheet approval process and makes it easy for managers to review. Once employees record total hours for a specific project, total work hours are divided into billable and non-billable hours. Billable hours are usually approved by the project leader before submitting it to the manager. Non-billable hours can only be approved by the manager. The timesheet approval systems must be able to differentiate between the two types of work hours.
The data captured in a timesheet is used for –
* Project accounting
* Estimating future projects
* Project tracking and management
* Billing clients
* Calculating payroll
The different types of timesheets include payroll timesheets, online timesheets, and employee timesheets.
What ails Manual Timesheet Approvals?
Manual timesheet submission works fine when scale of business operations is limited. As organizations grow in size and scale, manual submission of timesheets via fax, email, and other channels creates chaos and results in delayed timesheet approval. The status of the timesheet remains unknown for the employee, and the HR team or the manager (approver) are overwhelmed with the sheer volume of timesheets for review and approval. Moreover, one off emails are not sufficient for approval documentation and paper employee timesheets are often lost or illegible. As a manual effort, timesheet approvals put a huge strain on the HR team’s time.
The employee submitting the request has no way of knowing the status of their timesheet nor do they receive notice of approval. Manual timesheet approval is slow, inefficient, hard to track, and prone to mistakes. In addition to these disadvantages, paper timesheets are a nightmare to the compliance and auditing process.
Need for a Streamlined Timesheet Approval Process
To approve a timesheet via manual process requires a great deal of effort from the HR team. A streamlined and standardized timesheet approval process is needed for the following reasons-
Accurate billing and payroll – recording the exact work hours of employees is required for compensating them properly and maintaining payroll records precisely. Timesheet tracking is useful for billing purposes so that clients can be charged accurately for the amount of work done for them. Accurate timesheets are useful for payroll for remote workers when you cannot track them physically.
Recordkeeping – the Fair Labor Standards Acts (FLSA) requires employers to maintain accurate payroll records upto 3 years and timesheet of employees for upto 2 years. Accurate recordkeeping saves organizations from payroll fraud and compliance issues.
Cost control – maintaining accurate time records lets you know if you are spending beyond your means and need to cut back on expenses. Timesheets are a way of tracking operational efficiency and processes/tasks that are consuming a major portion of work hours.
Identifying process inefficiencies – real-time, accurate tracking of time helps track employee performance. Timekeeping also helps catch employees that are falling short and those that need more time to get their work done. Accurate timekeeping helps point out projects and tasks that may need more time to complete than the time originally allocated.
Automating the Timesheet Approval Process
The timesheet approval process can be tedious for the managers due to the sheer volume of timesheets for review. Automating timesheet approval accelerates the approval process and ensures accurate timekeeping. Automating timesheet approval is the process of recording employee hours through software that tracks hours for the project. Automated timesheets are easy for managers to review and approve. The timekeeping process is more accurate and consistent when automating timesheet approvals. The software can be accessed from anywhere on various platforms, like desktops or mobile devices.
The main challenge in manual timekeeping is motivating employees to fill timesheets diligently. Automated timesheets simplify the timesheet entries for employees. Employees find it easy to complete and submit their timesheets via automated process. The timesheet approval software issues alerts and notifications automatically to managers to remind them of timesheet approval deadlines.
Features of timesheet approval software
Automates timekeeping – the timesheet approval software must simplify time entry, review, and approval of timesheets. Employees can enter their work hours easily via user interfaces designed for time entry. Managers can review time entries when timesheets are submitted for review.
Routing timesheets – the software must automatically route the timesheets to the appropriate managers. Each submitted timesheet is concisely organized according to projects and compliance guidelines.
Automated alerts and notifications – managers must be automatically notified about pending timesheets in their review buckets. Approaching timesheet deadlines are automatically intimated to the concerned managers for timely review and approval.
Classify timesheets by project – some timesheets need several layers of approvals. The software must classify timesheets according to the projects automatically.
Recognizing overtime – approving timesheets involves more than simple review, payment for normal work hours is different from calculations for overtime work hours.
Advantages of Automating Timesheet Approval
Automated timesheet approval process is the most effective way to streamline and accelerate the timesheet approval process. Importance of timely approval of timesheets has been established in the section above. Employees and contractors can submit their timesheets via web browsers. The status of timesheets can be tracked by employees via web interfaces. Managers can use the web interface to review and approve the submitted timesheets. The status of timesheets and who the approver is, all this information is available on the web interface. Routing the timesheet to the appropriate manager is based on preset business rules in the software. Timesheets that are approved by the manager are automatically routed to the HR team. Approved timesheets are sent for fulfillment and payment processing.