Why your business needs online timesheets

Discover how much easier and faster it is to use online timesheets – for time recording and staff scheduling.

An employee filling out an online timesheet while talking to a coworker

Time to switch to online timesheets?

Cloud-technology has changed how we do business. What used to be expensive technology is now affordable and accessible to anyone with a mobile phone.

Now your business, no matter what size, can have an easy-to-use staff scheduling and time-recording system. It’ll save you hours of admin, improve staff engagement and help you get the most from your spend on wages.

Five problems with paper-based time tracking and scheduling

Paper-based systems will do the job, but they’re not ideal. They’re error prone, slow and distract people from their primary job.

Paper schedules are inflexible and difficult to update

A work schedule is right at the time you post it, but things can change quickly. People call in sick or take leave and filling those shifts means getting on the phone and ringing around. None of your employees knows that a shift has opened up.

Plus paper schedules can sometimes cause confusion for workers. It’s not unheard of for employees to mix up the dates of their shift, or confuse their starting times with someone else’s.

Paper timesheets leave your business vulnerable to time theft

Paper-based time tracking systems are prone to guesswork and the generous rounding up of hours. Overestimating a few minutes here or there might seem harmless, but that time adds up. With a paper-based system, there’s no way for you to monitor – or address – this behaviour.

Your employees hate the paperwork

Time recording can become a job in itself. Employees who’ve had a big day don’t like the extra burden of filling out forms. And when they treat it like an unwanted chore, the data can get sloppy.

Small errors can have large repercussions

Manual time tracking relies on employees writing down their hours, which you – or your payroll manager – must enter into a database. But something as innocent as misreading an employee's handwriting can cause a major problem. A three might look like a five. A two might look like a seven. And then there are keystroke errors that sometimes happen when data is being transcribed into payroll. If a dispute arises, it can be hard to find where things went wrong.

Manually processing timesheets slows down your business

Employees often need reminding to complete and hand in their timesheets. Then the numbers have to be entered into payroll. That double handling chews through a lot of time. It’s either a distraction to you, or it’s costing you a lot of unnecessary wages. Manual scheduling is also complex, difficult and time-consuming.

The advantages of online timesheets

Smart time-tracking software won’t just give you an accurate record of hours worked, it will also give you powerful scheduling tools. Time tracking apps make smart use of your employee’s mobile devices by enabling:

  • you to post rosters to their phones and make updates as things change
  • employees to clock on and off, and request leave, using their phone

These systems don’t require you to install any hardware and they can dramatically improve how you manage your employees.

Real-time scheduling

A smart online timesheets system will include scheduling features that let you send employee rosters to their mobile phones. You can even assign jobs to individual employees, which they receive via a notification. If someone needs time off, they can request it via their mobile and you can advertise the open shift to the rest of your employees using the app.

Accurate mobile time tracking

Employees who use online timesheets can clock on and off with their mobile. This eliminates paperwork and guesswork. The system captures the precise start and end time so you have an accurate record of hours worked. GPS stamping shows where each employee is when they clock on and off, so you can make sure they’re actually at work.

Better communication with your employees

Time-tracking software can alert you or your employee when their hours are approaching overtime or when a timesheet is ready for approval. With instant message alerts, you can notify your team as soon as you’ve published a new schedule or a new shift becomes available.

See where your investment is going

You can see how employees spend time by having them enter specific job and client codes into their online timesheets. This allows you to itemise your bills, or justify your invoices if they’re queried. It can also reveal if employees are getting stuck on certain tasks. The information could help you identify workflow problems that are wasting time and costing you money.

Seamless integration saves time on administration

The right online timesheets system will integrate with your other business software to automate a whole bunch of jobs you may do manually at the moment. The data can flow into your payroll system, which will calculate the tax and pay for each employee. And online timesheets can also update your accounting software, so you see how much you’re spending on wages day by day and hour by hour.

Forget manual scheduling and paper timesheets

Online timesheets with built-in scheduling functions make employee management so much simpler and far more accurate. That high-quality data becomes really valuable when you integrate it with other cloud accounting software. You’ll be able to automate payroll, and gain new insights into how efficiently your business runs. You’ll see if:

  • customers are being charged appropriately
  • internal bottlenecks are wasting employee time

Consider how this sort of convenience and knowledge could make your business faster, smarter and more profitable.


Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice. This guide has been provided for information purposes only. You should consult your own professional advisors for advice directly relating to your business or before taking action in relation to any of the content provided.

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