7 September 2017

The four biggest mistakes in time recording in service companies - and how to fix them

In many companies - especially in project-oriented service industries such as management consultancy, IT or engineering - the recording of project working hours plays a central role. If mistakes are made, they have a direct impact on the success of the business, because times that are not recorded cannot be accounted for. In the following, we would therefore like to discuss the four biggest mistakes in time recording in service companies - and how these can best be avoided

Error 1: Forgetting to record project times

In the "heat of the project business" this can happen: The project employee simply forgets to record project hours worked. This is often the case when additional project work is commissioned that is not covered by the agreed working time volume. Often it is simply due to the fact that in many companies the recording is still done via the classic Excel list. Most of the time, however, the employee is on site at the customer's, and the data is only recorded several days later in the office. This can lead to "memory gaps". Moreover, recording project times is not exactly one of the "favourite tasks" of most project staff.

The solutionPrecisely because it tends to be a tedious and unpopular task, time recording must be as simple, fast and uncomplicated as possible. It helps against memory lapses to record as promptly as possible. That is why a solution should be used that can be used independently of time, location and device: In the office as well as when travelling or on-site at the customer.

Error 2: Project times are recorded incorrectly

Where people work, mistakes happen! Of course, this also applies to the recording of project times. Numerical errors or typing mistakes lead to incorrectly recorded project times just as much as a slip in the column or row in the table. At a later point in time, it is difficult or impossible to detect and correct these errors. If too many project hours are recorded, the client usually notices this when the next invoice is issued and will send a reminder accordingly. If, on the other hand, too few project hours are recorded, this is fully at the expense of the service provider.

The solution: In order to reduce the risk of incorrectly recorded project times to a minimum, the entry of project times should be as simple, logical and quick as possible. For this reason, a solution should be used that follows a predefined workflow and supports the employee in making as few mistakes as possible.

Error 3: Error during transfer to the accounting system

Even if the project times have been recorded correctly, it can happen that they are transferred incorrectly to the system used for billing. This is especially true if the transfer is done manually, i.e. the recorded times must first be laboriously typed and entered into the accounting system (MS Word, invoicing, ERP system). This not only increases the susceptibility to errors, but also the time and effort required.

The solutionWhen choosing a software solution for time recording, companies should make sure that the data recorded there can be transferred via electronic data transfer or interface to the accounting system used in the company. This is the only way to ensure that no input errors occur during the transfer. It is even better if the time recording solution itself offers the possibility to create invoices directly from the solution.

Error 4: Settlement of recorded times is forgotten

Again, the human factor plays a central role in this error. If recorded times are not accounted for, this is usually because they were either not transferred to the accounting system or somehow "got lost" there.

The solution: This error can also be reduced to a minimum with a corresponding software solution, if the solution has corresponding functions for project controlling. In particular, this involves a corresponding notification function in the accounting software if working hours worked and listed in the time recording are not yet present on any invoice.

Trend study project controlling 2016 proves: optimisation potential exists

As the trend study Project Controlling commissioned last year by the company provantis IT Solutions proves, the four sources of error mentioned are not "pipe dreams", but problems that actually occur in practice. For example, 62 percent of the survey participants stated that the transfer of recorded project times into the accounting system is still done manually. 49 percent of the companies admitted that it happened in the past that project times were not recorded, and in 35 percent of the companies it happened that project times were recorded but not accounted for. And so it is no surprise that only 31 percent of the respondents stated that no optimisation of their project controlling is necessary.

ZEP: Because time is money

With ZEP, the company provantis IT Solutions offers a web-based software solution for time recording and project controlling with which all four sources of error can be eliminated.

  1. The cloud solution enables simple, fast and uncomplicated as well as timely recording of project times via a web-based user interface. Appropriate mobile apps are also available for mobile use.
  2. When entering project times, the project worker receives comprehensive assistance from ZEP. After opening ZEP, they always go directly to the project time recording page. The current day and time are sensibly preset. He can only select from the projects he is working on. To speed up the entry process, the solution offers additional functions such as: Copy day, record break, enquiry for time overlaps, presettings for time entries and trips, connect to existing times, and much more.
  3. ZEP offers its own invoicing module, which can be used to create invoices at the click of a mouse; the project times are automatically transferred. ZEP offers a corresponding interface for the transfer of project times to common financial accounting solutions such as Datev or Lexware.
  4. The ZEP billing module reminds you when invoices can be issued or when expenses have been incurred for which no billing has yet been planned. This prevents the billing of recorded times from being forgotten.

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