As a small business professional, how concerned should you be with tracking employee time? Well, look at it this way: is profitability important? Is it important to stay on track with budgets and projects? Yes? Then you should absolutely be tracking time.
In part one of this series (“How Small Business Can Benefit from Time Tracking“), we looked at creating a requirements list so you can buy time tracking software with confidence, and understanding the software rollout process. In this second article, we’ll look at questions to ask to make sure the demo is rock-solid, and the advantages of software-as-a-service versus installed software.
The Most Common Mistake in Buying Timesheet Software: Don’t Fall For a Deceptive Demo
You have the right to demand that any vendor absolutely, completely prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that their solution will solve your company’s specific business problem. You deserve a detailed demonstration that uses your employee list, customer list, project list, your company’s logo, color scheme, and that shows you reports on your data that will prove to you that your business problem is solved. If a vendor can’t make you 100 percent certain that the solution will work for your specific business needs, then walk away. Canned demos are designed to deceive.
Questions to Ask Vendors:
- Can you absolutely prove to me that you will solve my business problem, using my employees, departments, projects, etc., and then show me the reports I need to see?
- Can you provide references of clients that have successfully integrated your product with my accounting system, my project management system and my payroll service provider?
If the vendor can quickly configure the software during a demo for you and show you that it really meets your needs, then he probably can do it quickly after it’s installed at your company as well.
SaaS Flexibility Allows Early Rollouts, Server Protection and Easier Upgrades
If the software is 100 percent Web-based (and it should be to avoid obsolete technology and installation problems), you can run it from any computer on earth. Software companies can deliver technology via two different models: installed at your location or rented by you and running on the vendor’s site. The latter approach is called software-as-a-service (SaaS). There is no reason a provider can’t offer both options.
SaaS allows early rollouts, server protection and easier upgrades. In an early rollout, the vendor lets you temporarily use the SaaS site while your IT shop deploys the machine purchased for your local installation. Server protection is the process of sending a backup to the vendor in case your local installation fails. Thus, the vendor can get your system running on his site instantly. SaaS allows easier upgrades because you’re provided a test site during the upgrade process that requires no hardware purchases on your part.
Questions to Ask Vendors:
- What sort of backup generator do you have in case of a power outage at your SaaS site?
- Where is it hosted?
- How many connections to the Internet does your SaaS site have?
- How much does server protection cost?
- Can I roll-out on your SaaS servers and later transfer the data to my own servers?
- Where are SaaS backup tapes stored?
- What kinds of security and fire suppression capabilities exist at the hosting site?
Look Outside the HR Department
When payroll executives implement time and attendance systems to automate payroll, they often miss the chance to facilitate greater profitability throughout the entire company. These executives are, of course, payroll experts. They are usually not experts at project accounting or billing automation.
The time data they collect, if collected appropriately, can also be used to automate project management, project costing, project tracking, and project estimation improvement. Additionally, the data can be used for internal, external and reverse billing automation.
Think back to that requirements gathering portion of the timesheet software selection process. Bring in R&D managers, marketing folks, and A/P people. Have an entire selection team. Yes, it may be harder, but it will unleash profitability that you didn’t know you had available.
By following the tips outlined in this article, you can be sure that timesheet software will make enormous profitability increases in your company by automating payroll, billing and most of all project cost accounting.
Time Tracking Photo via Shutterstock