Time data is only useful if it’s actually accurate. Yet so many consultants, freelancers, part-time workers and employees still use error-prone manual timesheet apps to report their hours. It’s causing business to continually undersell their work and costs the US economy $7.4 billion in lost billables every day.
With a little help from automation, this expensive problem can be solved – and even free more time for productive work in the process. We just need to be more discerning with the tools we use to sell our businesses. Here’s why the best timesheet app is automatic.
The problem with timesheet apps
Timesheet apps seek to simplify essential time reporting required for client billing and payroll, as well as project, time and team management. But in spite of flashy UI, notification features and the availability of mobile apps, most timesheet apps offer little more than a spreadsheet.
Even when logged daily, manual timesheets are only ever 67% accurate.
Most timesheet apps require you to continually start and stop timers or plug in timestamps throughout the day. Aside from being intrusive and fiddly, this manual approach produces bad time data. Studies show that employees need to log their timesheets at least once a day for them to be vaguely accurate, but that daily manual logging will only ever yield a timesheet that is 67% accurate.
So if you use a manual timesheet app, you have to accept that a huge chunk of your company’s time data – and by extension revenue – will slip through the cracks. You simply can’t bill accurately for all your work or make truly data-informed decisions using subjective time records that have been constructed from memory.
How automatic timesheet apps differ
Automatic timesheet apps offer an accurate, low-effort alternative to timesheet logging. They completely outsource manual time tracking by recording all the time you spend on different tasks in the background as you work. Using AI, they then translate tracked data into accurate timesheets. Individual users just need to review and approve draft timesheets to make them public to managers and colleagues.
As such, automatic timesheet apps produce a flawless account of each work day with minimal user input. Employees don’t need to remember to start timers or take notes, which allows them to work with greater focus and spend less time on timesheet admin.
Automatic timesheet apps are a no-brainer if you want to bill clients accurately and reduce overhead on time reporting. By switching to an automatic app, IT consultancy PTS Group managed to reduce the time employees spent on timesheets each week from two hours to just a few minutes.
Automatic timesheets also allow employees to work more naturally. Instead of logging time throughout the day, they can approve drafts timesheets in a matter of clicks when it actually suits their schedule. This has the added benefit of expediting end-of-month invoicing, with late timesheets becoming less of a bottleneck.
Beyond timesheets, there are a ton of additional advantages that come with accessing a complete digital memory of all your company’s time, which include:
Surfacing all non-billable time (e.g. emails, meetings, internal communication, travel)
Costing and estimating work more competitively
Delivering projects on-track and on-budget
Managing team capacity, overtime and work distribution
Keeping company activity visible and aligned
Freeing employees for productive work
Identifying operational inefficiencies
Intelligent timesheet software can’t be developed for free, so expect to pay a small subscription. It’s important to remember that while many manual timesheet apps don’t involve fees, they could end up costing you more in the long-run; when a tool is fundamentally bad at doing a job, being “free” means very little.