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December 03, 2015

Pros and Cons: 3 Ways to Enter Timesheet Data into Payroll

Pros and Cons: 3 Ways to Enter Timesheet Data into Payroll

By Kit Dickinson on December 03, 2015

3 Ways to Enter Timesheet Data Into Payroll

Many companies don’t need a full time-and-attendance system, but they still have to enter a lot of data into payroll in a short time. Payroll practitioners can end the week exhausted from a final push to get everything submitted on time. Or there’s the fear that it was all entered incorrectly and Monday will greet them with a disgruntled mob carrying pitchforks and torches.

Payroll practitioners need to find the best way of entering time and payroll information. But which method is the quickest, simplest, most accurate one? Here are three options for your consideration.

Payroll System Grid Entry

If you don’t have a time-and-attendance system, chances are you’re entering time manually into your payroll system. Each payroll system provides a blank grid that allows you to enter your hours for each employee. It works for some very basic clients, but if you have more than a few employees or any kind of complexity or rules to apply, the grid quickly becomes a grind.

Hard to Use

Payroll system grids force you to enter the data they want into fields they’ve created in a format that works for their system. It’s not built around your system, your data, or your formatting. So time entry is painful and slow.

No Safeguards

With the payroll grid, there’s no way to be sure you’ve entered the correct time or correctly applied calculations. Because it’s simply a blank data field, there are no checks or safeguards. You could be issuing the wrong pay and never know it until a disgruntled employee knocks on your door.


The grid doesn’t give you helpful shortcuts or tools for quick entry. Everything is manually punched in, one field at a time. If you’ve got a couple hours to enter hundreds of timecards into payroll, you’re constantly up against the clock.

Delegation Difficulties

One of the greatest issues with grid entry is that it restricts your ability to delegate time capture to anyone other than your payroll administrator, because you don’t want to give anyone else access to the payroll system. Anyone who can enter data into the payroll grid can also access your employees’ sensitive information.But if your payroll administrator gets sick, how many backups should you have, and who should you trust? All those considerations come into play by opening up access to payroll.

So with payroll system grids, you’re single-threading through an individual who has to gather the information, process it, then enter it accurately into a system that puts you in a box.

Spreadsheet Time Entry

For those reasons, many companies choose to capture time information through spreadsheets, using macros. Employees enter their time in a tab of the workbook, then there’s usually a secondary process that reads all of the tabs in that workbook and applies some rudimentary rules and generates a payroll output.

This eliminates a lot of time that the grid method demands, but spreadsheets are wrought with their own dangers.

Broken Macros

All it takes is a software upgrade and suddenly your macros are broken. And macros can easily be changed, either unintentionally or maliciously.

We had a client that had a disgruntled employee who found a way to get in and corrupt their macro. It crippled the organization for weeks until they were able to re-engineer it.

Maintenance Issues

Which brings up another problem with macros. If your rates change or other company policies change, it’s not always easy to find someone to maintain and support the macro. Your programmers can’t always be pulled off their projects to make changes, or the programmer who created the macro may eventually leave the organization. If you need to make last-minute updates, payroll can’t wait.

No Accuracy Checks

Spreadsheets don’t a built-in capability for you to check the accuracy of the times that your employees record. There’s no audit that says the timecard is approved, so you can’t verify that the record is accurate. All it takes is someone fat-fingering in incorrect data and you aren’t going to know any better.

Culture of Distrust

It’s easy for your employees to distrust a spreadsheet workbook or emails that fly around, or a check that just appears without any approvals—especially when you have incentives or applied rates, or other company rules that affect the pay. The more complexity you get, the greater the chance for mistrust and inaccuracies. When the system itself engenders distrust, employee disputes are more frequent and litigious.

Quick Time Entry

IDI’s Quick Time Entry is a light and flexible solution for companies that don’t need a full-blown time-and-attendance system, but don’t want to deal with the hassles of payroll system grids and spreadsheets.

Fast & Easy Time Entry

QTE is a job enhancement and company improvement tool. The application includes tools that make data entry speedy and simple. The data entry interface is customized to your company’s codes and values, so time entry becomes intuitive and easy.

Quick Time Entry frees up enough time for payroll practitioners to spend time investing into initiatives that assist their organizations. Instead of being stuck head-down in your office and fighting against the clock, you can spend time investing in the overall culture of your company.

Built-in Audit Trail

With QTE you have a workflow of supervisors that approve their teams’ times. There’s an embedded audit trail, so if you have to go back three weeks and say “Why did this person get paid this amount?” you can see that it was approved, and who approved it.

100% Accurate Paychecks

Calculations and rules are applied automatically so there’s no risk of manual calculation errors. And employees don’t have access to macros that could accidentally get corrupted. Every paycheck is guaranteed to be accurate, every time. So you don’t have to spend the weekend worrying about dealing with a fallout on Monday.

Improved Trust and Morale

Quick Time Entry helps improve overall company trust and morale. Because calculations are automated and audit trails are in place, your employees know that their paystubs are correct and payroll is accurate. They’re getting paid for what they did.

With Quick Time Entry, payroll isn’t a painful process. It’s simple, you can do it more confidently, more accurately.

Next Steps

Quick Time Entry Video

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