Timekeeping: Manual Input vs. Automated Data Entry

Sep 19, 2023 5:00:00 AM / by Payday HCM

Timekeeping is not easy, but it is an essential part of any business. It involves tracking and recording employees’ working hours and attendance, as well as PTO (paid time off). It’s an essential part of managing a business and affects other critical aspects, like payroll processing, project management, and compliance with labor laws.

There are an almost endless number of ways business owners and managers handle their timekeeping responsibilities. But we believe it’s vital for you to have a clear picture of how manual and automated data entry stack up against each other so you can make an informed decision about your timekeeping process.

This article will give you insights into factors related to timekeeping, including data entry, accrual tracking, record keeping, and data verification. Although this list is not comprehensive, these are some of the most important tasks related to timekeeping.


Manual Input vs. Automated Data Entry

Data entry is the act of getting the information about hours worked or PTO hours recorded into some kind of system.


Manual Data Entry

If you are manually entering timekeeping data, you need a system to track what you are entering and calculating. This can be something free like Excel or Google Sheets. A spreadsheet would be a definite step up if you are still using a ledger book, but it will require a significant amount of time to manage and upkeep. Even with as few as 4 or 5 employees, the time involved will be significant, as much as a quarter of your workweek.


Automated Data Entry

Automatic timekeeping works differently. You would first need to purchase a system to track your data. Quickbooks is your most affordable option at about $8 per monthly user, plus a $20 monthly base fee. This falls somewhere between manual entry and a full-service HCM (human capital management) system because some of it will be automated, but you will still have to manage the functions of the system yourself. You will also be responsible for the initial setup and implementation.

An HCM company will provide your most comprehensive services, the hours will be tracked for each employee and stored without having to manually enter anything, plus you will have the potential to link other functions to your timekeeping, like payroll and taxes. It’s your single-point solution. You can get an HCM plan from Rippling, for example, that’s a base fee of $35 a month plus $8 per employee. Paychex offers similar services, with a $39 monthly base fee and $5 per employee.


Manual vs. Automated Accrual Tracking

If you offer PTO, floating holidays, or sick time, these are all types of accruals that you will need to track for each employee during each pay period.


Manual Accrual Tracking

Manually tracking time accruals and balances can be tricky but it is possible. Again, using a spreadsheet will be your best bet. You can set up a full spreadsheet page for each employee, if you only have a few, or you can create a column for each employee on a single sheet. Then it’s a matter of going in each pay period, adding in any hours they may have accrued during that time, and subtracting any accrued hours they may have used in that time.


Automated Accrual Tracking

An automated system will update accruals automatically for each pay period. This comes after an initial setup, where you input how many hours each of your employees will accrue during a single pay period. The big difference is that once you set the values the automated system will take it from there. With manual entry, the bulk of the work is data entry. With an automated system, like an HCM system, you will spend less time overall monitoring timekeeping. The time you do spend in the system will be spent auditing the information generated for you.


Benefits of Automated Timekeeping Systems


Easily Ensure Compliance

Depending on where you are located and what industry you are in, there are different laws and regulations you have to follow. Failure to comply will usually result in a fine or penalty. A substantial penalty can be enough to put your business in jeopardy.


Manual Data Entry

The method for keeping up on compliance, if you are not using an HCM system or outsourcing human resources, is to educate yourself on the laws in your area. You can use resources like the US Department of Labor website and your respective state law website. The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions website, for example, will have information about hours and wages, among other things.


Automated Data Entry

Automated compliance tracking systems can be standalone systems or come as part of an HCM package. We always recommend going with an HCM over individual programs. This is because several standalone programs used in conjunction, even if they are automated, will take more of your time because you will have to manually transfer information between systems. That’s not to mention the human error factor that will inevitably cost you.


Track Hours More Accurately

When it comes to tracking individual hours and totaling up the correct amounts, an automated system will be substantially more accurate. With a manual process, your first point of error is with your employees writing in their times. A paper timecard will never be as accurate as a digital timecard. For example, an employee might arrive at work at 8:06 a.m. but still write 8 a.m. on their time card.

That’s 6 minutes lost each day for multiple days, and on top of that, it is likely happening with more than one employee. Five employees having 6 minutes extra on their timecard in one week adds up to 2.5 hours worth of pay. At $20/hr, that ends up being $50 extra that you don’t need to be paying.

Another point of error in manual hour tracking comes from whoever is entering the data. Human errors are bound to happen and the chances of that increase with more employees. With an automated system, your employees can use digital means to clock in and out. This means the times recorded are much more accurate.


Get an Automated Timekeeping System & Enjoy Greater Advantages

As you have most likely noticed, automated systems have many advantages over manual processes. If you are struggling with time management, accuracy, compliance, or any other issue related to timekeeping, you should decide if it’s time for automated resources.

Basic payroll software and HCM systems are no longer cost-prohibitive. You can have a basic automated system for under $50 a month, depending on how many employees you have. Compare this to the time that you or your staff spend entering hours or reconciling the numbers and you will have a clear idea of which is more cost-effective.

Our HCM system at Payday is also affordable and comprehensive. What makes us stand out is that we offer a live single point of contact and in-depth user training for all levels of your staff, not just the higher-ups.

Want to chat with us about HCM systems and automating your timekeeping? Contact us today and get things rolling. If you’re looking for more guidance, try this helpful article on the 5 Features to Look for in a Payroll Company.


Time and Labor Management

Time and Labor Management

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