Productivity | July 15, 2019

Time Tracking Through the Years: The Evolution of Timesheets

Throughout time, people have used different ways of calculating the time spent working on a task. The time spent is an old concept that has proved to be the easiest way to measure and control productivity.

Time tracking dates back to Ancient Egypt when daily time tracking spreadsheets were kept on clay tablets. Before currencies, employees were paid in meals based on the logs that were put in the clay tablet. The logs were manually updated by leaders, and they were the ones who interpreted them.

The first industry to use a pen and paper timesheets for was law. Paper timesheets were introduced in order for Lawyers to charge the client according to the time they spend on a case. Fixed fees were being substituted by billable hours at a fast pace, in order to increase income.

In Modern Age Technology, timesheets are automated and used by almost all fields of business. Automated electronic timesheets are designed to minimize errors, and give employees more accountability. In turn, business owners or project managers retrieve valuable insight that they can use to evaluate performance and make future predictions.

Even with the high availability of automated time-tracking software, some people still choose excel templates as a way of time tracking. Even though Excel is free and doesn’t require any extra training, there are some major drawbacks to it.

Excel is a single-user tool, so if you have a big team trying to enter data onto the timesheets, they won't be able to access the file if someone else is already using the spreadsheet, because only one person can make changes at a time. Softwares like Teamviewer can help multiple individuals connect to a single computer, and edit the excel sheet but this would make the process time-consuming. Therefore, if the team is big then this process quickly becomes a deal-breaker. Tracking hours becomes subject to human errors, interpreting the data consumes time, and there is a need for someone to create and manage those sheets regularly. All these issues consume time, and they may prolong other processes that may be of higher importance to the business.

As a response, automated time tracking apps have been developed to address these basic business needs. The days when you had to sit down and track the hours worked are over. Employees won't be able to falsely fill out timesheets anymore because automated time tracking applications accurately track the numbers of hours worked through various integrated features - including location tracking, mouse and keyboard recordings and more. Advancements in technology have presented a number of opportunities for businesses, and it is the job of business owners and project leads to seizing them.

What is an automated time tracker?

Time-tracking through time has changed drastically. Modern software allow employees to keep track of the time they spend working on a task or project. Time tracking software have replaced the casual paper timesheets due to their ability to provide accurate data and accountability. Automated time trackers record the time it takes for an employee to finish a particular task. The data is stored in the cloud, and it is the job of the algorithm to turn that data into meaningful information for the business owner - all of which is detailed in the app, and across timesheet reports.

How Does a Time Tracking Software work?

There are different types of time tracking software in the market, some of them are offered as web-only solutions, while others have made the effort to develop iOS and Android compatible apps.

In most apps, the user/employee has to log into the software, where they have to clock into a project and select a task. Their time will be recorded from the moment they press start. The app will then measure the time until the user decided to clock out of the task. Additional features include measuring break time when on the clock, viewing paid time off (PTO) hours, describing a task via notes, GPS time tracking and many more.

The amount of time spent on a task will be saved on the employees' timesheet which will help management determine future payments. As highlighted above, some time-tracking software allows business owners to track employees paid time off. This feature will ensure that supervisors are aware of the employees' availability. After all the data is recorded and accepted by system administrators, data is pushed onto invoices, payment services, shift schedules and other areas within the software.

Advantages of automating time tracking processes

Moving from a pen and paper, or excel-based manual timesheets to automated digital time trackers is the first step every business owner needs to take. The advantages of transitioning towards modern software are numerous. Here are 5 reasons why you should implement an automated time tracking system into your business:

Increased Accountability

Time-tracking software make sure that your employees are being responsible with their time management. Holding employees accountable for time mismanagement has never been easier. With the help of time tracking software, you will be in full control of the hours worked by employees. In the case that an employee tries to manipulate the timeline, entry history will enable you to view all of the changes that were made.

Transparency

With automated time-tracking software, employees will be able to review their time spent on a project, while the business owner can use that information to identify areas that need to be improved. This will allow business owners to develop training programs tailored to the needs of their employees.

Discipline

Time-tracking software will discipline your employees as well as motivate them to do better. When employees know that their time is being clocked, their psychological state will change. Employees are inclined to work more if they have a clear guide of what measures productivity. However, we must take into consideration that speed does not equal quality; as such, when developing reward systems, business owners have to take both factors into consideration. Above all, creating a friendly but competitive workspace will challenge your employees to work harder and faster on tasks.

Data-based Decision-Making

The real-time insights functionality provided by automated time trackers can improve the way you analyze the value of your project. Undervaluing work is a common problem across small, medium and large-scale businesses. But, with the help of time trackers find the right price for your work won't be a problem anymore.

Efficiency

Who is working extra hours? How many days from his or her annual leave did the manager use? What department is more productive? The answer to all of these questions lies in time tracking systems. In the absence of such a system, employees could be working overtime, and not get rewarded for their effort. At the same time, your manager could be taking more days off then he or she is supposed to, however, without any data it would be difficult to assess the situation. As such, you may experience losses in efficiency without being aware of it. Time tracking solutions are designed to help you identify inefficiencies in a blink of an eye. Actionable insights and auto-generated reports provide all the details you need to see who's really working, and who is slacking off.


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Atto is the simplest timesheet app for small and medium-sized businesses. It’s intuitive interface and carefully designed features, including time tracking, location tracking, team insights and automated timesheets help employees and managers focus on real work.

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