Sharon has a business. She works from home or just about wherever she wants as long as she has internet access. She’s not a work at home mom. She’s more of a digital nomad.
Sharon does accounting for businesses too small to have an accounting staff and too busy to worry about accounting software. Sharon’s been successful enough to hire three other women, two of them mom’s to take on some of her work.
She’s getting big and busy enough to look for an online time clock solution.
Sharon certainly knows books well enough to keep time records for payroll. Trouble is it is a bit of a nuisance. Her “virtual” staff work at different hours and often at will.
She pays them by the hour, and needs to know when they start and stop. She needs to know how their hours accumulate and how close she is to budget.
Without such history, for example, Sharon cannot forecast her future needs, and she would like to grow enough to hire two more assistants.
As important, she must process payroll and taxes accurately, timely, and consistent with FLSA guidelines.
Spreadsheets won’t do for long.
She can do what she needs to do manually on paper, but that defies accuracy. And, she can manage with spreadsheets in Excel or Google Sheets, of course. Both offer built-in templates.
Templates make completion and retention easier. But, they do not do much in the way of trending, integrating, or drilling down without many time-consumption.
Likewise, QuickBooks, Freshbooks, CS Ledger, and others help in processing, but they are also bloated and heavy with features when all you need is an online time clock.
According to a Brittany Thompson at Clockspot.com, speaking in defense of time and attendance tracking software, Sharon needs to avoid “weekly time-sheet nightmares.”
One of those problems is gathering the time-sheets from employees. Getting them to complete sheets in real-time is always tough.
But, according to Gail Sessoms, writing for Chron.com, “One worker’s absence or habitual lateness in a small business can disrupt production schedules, cause others to reschedule planned leave and reflect badly on the company if customer service suffers.”
What’s the advantage of online time tracking software?
Sharon, our hypothetical entrepreneur, opted for an online time clock for several reasons.
One reason was to reduce employee resistance. Employers have historic dislike for time clocks. They find it a demeaning and unreliable process. But, a good online system is engaging to navigate and accessible to participants who can view their records.
Another was to reduce processing time. Because there are no manual records, no time cards, and no spreadsheets, Sharon can let the system do its thing faster, easier, and more accurately,
It also keeps her staff honest; not that they weren’t trustworthy, but there wouldn’t be any fudging on check-in and check-out.
And, given that her workers had flexible hours, it kept Sharon from juggling all the numbers. With employees working remotely, she knew who was working where and when in real-time.
Moreover, that recorded data integrates with other systems she is running. For example, she can link the hours worked to the specific client’s cost.
The best online time tracking systems let employees report by any device including landline phones. That reporting gives Sharon an easy to read dashboard display on-time and in-time, so she can make the decisions she must make at the time.
In the case we describe with Sharon, she has no full-time employees, so lunch breaks, PTO, and leaves are not an issue. But, the best systems manage that, too.
What Sharon winds up with is a cloud-based auditable time and attendance record. It is also scalable allowing her to change and expand here reporting needs as her staff increases.
And, of course, it gives her priceless peace of mind.
Title: Super-Connector at OutreachMama
Wendy is a super-connector with OutreachMama and Youth Noise NJ who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition. You can contact her on Twitter.