When we first started our web design and development agency in 2000, we relied solely on paper timesheets to track our billable time. Today, paper timesheets can still provide a simple and low-tech way of tracking time, but they also have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the pros and cons of tracking time with paper timesheets, and where our experience with them has taken us to this day.
- Easy to use
Paper timesheets are simple and straightforward to use, requiring little training or technical know-how. Simply put pencil to paper, and jot down the hours.
- Low cost
Paper timesheets are a low-cost solution, as all you need is a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil.
- No technology requirements
With paper timesheets, there is no need for time tracking software, making them accessible to everyone. No internet required.
- Free templates available
There are a multitude of free paper timesheet templates available online, making it almost effortless to get started.
- Easy to customize
Paper timesheets can be easily customized to suit your specific needs, allowing you to track different types of time or keep track of time spent on individual tasks.
- Physical record
Paper timesheets provide a physical record of your work hours, which can be useful in situations where digital records may not be available.
- Prone to errors
Paper timesheets are susceptible to errors, such as incorrect entries or illegible handwriting, which can make it difficult to track time accurately. Plus, filling out a timesheet at the end of the day will result in under-reported hours.
Filling out paper timesheets can be time-consuming, especially if you have a large team or need to track a lot of projects.
- Easily lost or damaged
Paper timesheets can be lost, damaged or destroyed, which can lead to lost data and incomplete records.
- No backups
Paper timesheets can not be backed up, unless you scan or photocopy them. If the only copy does get lost or destroyed, there is no way to restore the data.
- Limited reporting
Generating reports from paper timesheets can be challenging and time-consuming, particularly if you need to manually enter the data into spreadsheet software.
- Less than ideal for remote work
Sharing paper timesheets with other team members can be difficult, especially if they are not in the same office. Reporting hours to a project manager is a cumbersome and time-consuming process.
In our experience, paper timesheets can be a good option for individuals that need a simple and cost-effective way to track time. However, most teams will require more advanced features, making online time tracking tools the better option.
Where did our agency end up? After a few years of using paper timesheets, we drew from our experience and pivoted into SaaS with the launch of our flagship time tracking software, Intervals. We have since helped countless companies make the transition from paper timesheets to time tracking software. If you would like to learn more about implementing time tracking at your company, here’s some more information on how to make it a painless transition.