How to SIMPLY Add Timesheet Functionality to Your Outlook Calendar
The challenges with traditional timesheets
You know how important tracking time is for your business or organization. Without time tracking, you don’t know how time is being spent, if it’s being spent in the right ways or in the right areas. In other words; timesheet reporting is essential.
That being said, a lot of the more traditional approaches to time reporting are quite cumbersome and difficult for the users. Some ‘solutions’ require pen and paper, which can be lost, etc., not to mention the impact on our environment.
Other solutions require spreadsheets or separate software programs. These require that your employees are trained in using them, which takes time. It also requires them to enter different programs and remember what they did when, which is also a hassle.
All the above does that in a lot of cases your timesheet reporting is not being done, and if it is, it is seldom on time.
However, there is a solution to how you can add timesheet reporting to your organization in an easy and simple way, with all the advantages…
How to add timesheet functionality to your Outlook and how to track time in Outlook
If your organization is like most other professional organizations, you are using Microsoft Outlook, including the Outlook calendar. You should build on this, and leverage the training and knowledge that your employees already have.
So, how to track time in Outlook? With the right hour reporting solution, like for example TimeSheet Reporter, you can easily leverage your Microsoft Outlook calendar, and report time via this, with a Microsoft Outlook timesheet add-in.
Getting started with this is really easy: You simply sign up via TimeSheet Reporter’s website, install the add-in to Outlook, and you’re in business.
When creating an Outlook appointment you then simply click the TSR button, and you can now add timesheet info like Organization, Project and Activity, and that’s it. It’s really simple and yet powerful.
So if you want to find the best way to create and submit your timesheet Outlook with a proper add-in is the way to go.
Approving or rejecting time entries
When your time entry has been completed, you can then optionally submit this for approval. In some cases this might not be relevant, but in most cases it’s good to have this extra step of approval. Especially if you’re using this as the basis for invoicing, payroll, or just regular project management.
When the time entry has been submitted, a supervisor can then quickly approve or reject it:
Track time on internal and external/client projects
Even if you don’t bill clients, time tracking is still essential. You can also track your hours on internal projects and activities, such as administration, internal projects, etc.
In this case you would for example, when reporting your time, select your own organization as Organization, ‘Administration’ as Project and ‘Misc. office work’ as the Activity. This is just an example, but you get the idea.
If you do bill clients, you really need a proper solution. If you’re billing by the hour, you need to know your hours exactly (and so do your clients), and even if you do fixed-fee projects you also need to know how much time you spent on these projects, to see if they make financial sense to you.
In this case you would select your client as the Organization, then the relevant client Project and finally an activity, for example ‘Meetings’ or ‘Consultancy tasks’, etc.
Track time on time-off with your Outlook Calendar Timesheet
Besides tracking time on internal and external projects, you can also use your time reporting solution for tracking time-off, for example vacation, etc. Here you might select Organization as your own, then a project called for example ‘Time-off’, and then an activity such as ‘Vacation’, ‘Dentist’, etc.
In this way employees and managers can quickly get an overview of how time has been spent on these activities as well.
Strong reporting is essential
In relation to the above, it’s paramount that your timesheet solution comes with strong reporting capabilities. After having collected the time entries, it’s also essential that you can quickly get an overview of how time has been spent, and also being able to dive into this data if you want to.
This info is essential to management, and you can easily send these overviews and reports to for example clients, management as well as project managers.
Another nice feature to have is the ability to give individual regular users access to the reporting functions in the system. Besides the ability to add timesheet info to their calendar appointments they can then also quickly get an overview of how time has been spent, including regular work time, but also time-off. Your system should in this regard come with an option so that you can set it up so that some users can use the reporting functionalities but can only see their own time, and not what their boss or colleagues are doing. However, this is entirely up to your policies of course.
Other features to consider with a Microsoft Outlook timesheet add-in
Other features you might consider when you want to implement a time reporting solution with an Outlook calendar timesheet solution, are things such as the ability to have hourly rates in the system as well, and also the ability to track expenses such as hotel, mileage, etc.
Your solution should provide you with options for this, if you have the need of course.
Getting support from your end-users
So now that you’ve found the right solution, how do you ensure that you get your employees’ support?
Show them how easy it is to add timesheet info to their Outlook appointments, compared to having to enter different programs or filling out an Excel sheet.
Give them access to the reporting functions, possibly only for their own time.
Communicate with them that this is not to spy on them, but to help them.
Do all this, and they will support your implementation, so that everybody will enjoy the benefits from this, both employees, management and clients.
These are all some of the benefits that you’ll enjoy with an Outlook timesheet add-in.
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