Selecting the Right Time Reporting System
How hard can it be?
Just pick one of the systems on the market, that should be fairly easy.. Or?
Selecting a suitable time reporting system
can be harder than you think. Just picking a system without investigating the needs
and functions results in a possible situation where the users get a system that
is over complicated. This would lead to that the efforts to chase in the timesheets
increases, which is probably contrary to what you were aiming for in the first place!
Integration with Financial / Economic / ERP system?
One of the first decisions that you will face is whether the time reporting system
should be an integrated part in the financial / economic systems that already exist.
Based on the financial departments perspective, this is probably the best option
in order to reduce the management of projects in multiple systems and avoid importing
time reports into the financial system. However, if we look at users and project
managers, the usability of the integrated systems often have much to be desired.
Since the integrated modules are based on a financial / economic systems they are
not specialized in time reporting and therefore includes structures and functions
that make it complex and in some cases slow down the productivity.
Usability - Choosing the right degree of complexity
One of the major problems with time reporting is to actually get users to register
their time. The more complex and difficult a time reporting system is perceived
by the users, the more work is needed to hunt time reports from users who miss the
Simplified you can say that a time reporting system has three different types of
users: Project Manager, Users reporting time and Administrator needing reports.
Everyone wants the system to be easy to use and have the right functionality for
their particular role. The project manager would like it to be easy to create and
manage projects and activities, the users reporting time want it to use as little
time as possible registering their time. The administrators needing reports (like
project manager, finance department and others) will want specific reports showing
for them interesting information in an attractive format.
If you select a time reporting system that does not live up to the expectations
from all of these roles you will have a system that users will object to use alternatively
not used for the full potential.
Do not forget the reports!
A very important aspect that is easily overlooked when selecting a system is WHAT
the system should deliver in the form of reports. Is the absence reports that is
important or / and should the system provide a basis for billing? Take in regard
what information that project managers want to get but also what other roles that
are interested in reports from the system.
A good recommendation is to choose a time reporting system that can export the reports
to Excel (or similar) so that it is possible to externally process the information
if the reports is not enough.
To live in the cloud
Earlier, all systems purchased were to be installed on its own servers and client
computers, requiring a number of hardware and software requirements to operate.
Of course there are still time reporting system that is hosted the same way but
it has grown more popular in recent years is to rent system/software as SAAS, Software
as a Service.
This means that you as a customer do not install any software on your own servers.
You will use a solution that is hosted at the system provider and accessed via a
browser. No installations needed or heavy license fees for databases etc needed.
Usually you pay per month and for the number of users that will use the system.
The major benefits of SAAS are to avoid cost and handling of the infrastructure,
operation, backup management, updates etc.
To develop in-house
Many companies, especially in the IT consulting world, still chose to build his
own time reporting tools in order to specialize it for their own business.
Today there are so many different time reporting systems on the market that you
probably can find a system that fits your business, but the option to develop it
yourself may still be relevant if you have special needs.