Software solutions for time recording in project-oriented companies

The choice of time recording software is large, but not all solutions meet the requirements of project-oriented companies.

Management consultancies rely on time recording

Software solutions for time recording are a dime a dozen. The selection ranges from the standard software Microsoft Excel, which is "bent" into a time recording solution with the help of specific templates and extensions, to special solutions, which are often offered in connection with corresponding hardware for access control, to mobile apps, which can be downloaded from the well-known app stores. Companies that want to use time recording software are thus faced with the challenge of selecting the optimal solution for them from the abundance of available solutions.

Not all time recording is the same

As mentioned at the beginning, there are different requirements for time recording software. These begin with the question of what time is to be recorded. Is it purely about the presence of a (shift) employee, possibly with the corresponding access control to a company building or a factory facility? Is it about logging the working time of an external employee or is it ultimately about recording and billing the project times worked both internally and externally to a client/customer? In many project-oriented sectors such as the IT sector, management consultancy, the agency sector, architecture and engineering or other service sectors, it is specifically the latter case that we would like to deal with more specifically in the following.

Time recording in project-oriented companies: Precision, flexibility, mobility, user-friendliness

Precision in time recording plays a central role, especially in the project business. After all, the recorded times are ultimately the basis for invoicing the client. For this reason, it is essential to be able to prove as precisely as possible who has done what work for which project and when. If this can be proven, the client will usually approve the work in a timely manner; if it cannot be proven, there will be enquiries and the billing will be delayed.

Another aspect of the project business is the variety of billing models: According to daily rates, according to hourly rates, according to agreed flat rates. If time recording is limited to the mere recording of hours, rework is necessary, because these hours must of course be linked to the agreed billing models in order to ultimately provide a business overview of the project business and to enable billing of the project hours worked.

Another aspect that plays a central role, especially in project-oriented companies, is mobility, because project work usually takes place on site at the customer. For this reason, it makes sense to give employees the option of recording their working hours independent of location and time via a mobile device (laptop, smartphone, tablet). The same applies to the corresponding travel expenses and receipts. This means that they do not have to wait until the next time they are back at their desk in the office to do this work.

Closely related to the topic of mobility is the last item on the list of requirements for time recording software: user-friendliness. Recording project times with the corresponding travel expenses and receipts is not exactly one of the "favourite tasks" of many employees, but is rather seen as a necessary evil. On the other hand, as already mentioned, management is of course dependent on precise and timely recording, because this is the only way to ensure precise and timely accounting. As numerous practical examples show, user-friendliness and an intuitive, easy-to-understand user interface play a central role in the acceptance of time recording - and thus its use.

The most important functions of time recording software for project-oriented companies

So, if we summarise the above-mentioned special features of time recording, the following requirements for a time recording system for project-oriented companies result:

  1. Modularity
    Time recording software that is limited exclusively to recording hours and minutes makes little sense in the project business. It makes more sense if the software offers additional modules with which further functionality can be added. First and foremost is the function to process the billing of project times directly from the time recording. Other useful extensions are functions for travel expense accounting, holiday planning and integration into financial accounting.
  2. Mobility
    The second important aspect for the selection of time recording software for the project business is mobility. It makes a difference whether times are to be recorded for an employee who spends most of his time at his workplace in the office or in the car, on the train, on the plane or on site with the customer. For this reason, it is important to provide employees with a tool that supports them in recording their times, regardless of where they are. This means that this task is no longer an "annoying evil", but can be done in a few simple steps.
  3. Integration in project controlling
    A timely, accurate and comprehensive overview of the current project business as well as a forecast of how this business will continue to develop are key factors for the success of project-oriented companies. The type and scope of the recorded project times are the most important evaluation criteria in this respect. For this reason, this data should also be directly available for project controlling of existing projects as well as resource planning for future projects and evaluated via corresponding reporting functions.

ZEP: Because time is money

With ZEP, the company provantis IT Solutions offers a web-based software solution for time recording and project controlling that was specially developed for project-oriented companies. It is not for nothing that ZEP stands for "time recording for projects". The basis for the development of the solution was the many years of experience of the two company founders, Thilo Jahke and Oliver Lieven, in the project business of a medium-sized IT service provider and the resulting requirements for a software solution in the areas of time recording and project controlling.

An overview of the functions and modules of ZEP can be found on the ZEP website.

Tanja Hartmann

Content Marketing Manager at provantis IT Solutions

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