Time recording and project controlling: why Microsoft Excel inevitably reaches its limits at some point
25 May 2022

Time recording and project controlling: why Microsoft Excel inevitably reaches its limits at some point

At the beginning of their business activities, many companies - even in project-oriented sectors - first rely on what is already available in the company anyway: in terms of software equipment, this is usually the applications of the Microsoft Office suite.

And so, for the time recording of the first projects, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets are usually created in which the project participants enter which project times they have worked for which projects. So far, so good.

But the faster the project volume increases and the more participants - internal and external - work on the projects, the more difficult it becomes to handle time recording via the "good old" Excel lists. As a rule, the following three challenges arise

1. lack of efficiency

"When did I work what for whom?" This question is asked of everyone involved in a project at the latest when the project and/or management requests that the project timetables be supplemented or updated. As a rule, this happens at the latest at the end of the month so that the project times worked can be accounted for. Holiday and absence times must then be indicated as well as expenses and travel costs associated with the individual projects. This is usually not a problem with one project and one project team, but with many projects and many project teams it is a Sisyphean task that no one likes to do.

2. lack of precision

If, as just described, project times are only entered into tables afterwards, the "error devil" is virtually pre-programmed. Project times are recorded incorrectly or not at all, and it becomes increasingly difficult to provide proof - both internally and externally vis-à-vis the project client. Especially when employees work in parallel for different projects and/or clients, it becomes increasingly difficult to achieve the precision required for proper time recording. In addition, project controlling is also becoming more and more complex. Project leaders and/or management have to dig through a wide variety of Excel spreadsheets if they want to get an overview of the current project status, the work done, the project budget already used, the workload, and much more. And even if they make this effort, the following applies: the more imprecise the tables, the more imprecise the controlling.

3. lack of turnover

Forgetting one or the other lesson or assigning it to the wrong project or a somewhat diffuse overview of staff planning - anything can happen. Possible, but risky. Because in the end, this approach means that the proof of hours worked on the project is faulty and thus also the accounting - which has a direct impact on the company's success. If project working hours are not recorded, they cannot be accounted for. The turnover is gone. If errors also occur during the manual transfer of the project times listed in Excel tables to the invoicing/billing solution, the risk of turnover losses increases even more.

ZEP: Efficient and precise time recording and project controlling - from 1-person operations to large companies

ZEP - Time Recording for Projects was developed especially for companies in project-oriented industries - regardless of their company size. Today, ZEP customers include one-person companies as well as large international companies with several hundred employees and international projects.

Simple and intuitive entry of project times via a web-based user interface or mobile apps, travel expense accounting as well as holiday and absence management and comprehensive project controlling at the click of a mouse: ZEP offers everything that manually created spreadsheets cannot.

The big advantage: ZEP grows with the organisation. This is why companies in project-oriented sectors should switch to ZEP as early as possible.

For an overview of how companies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland work with ZEP, please visit the ZEP website. If you are specifically looking for examples of companies that have switched from Microsoft Excel to ZEP, the following list of relevant practice reports will help you: