Have you ever wondered what the cost of processing paper timesheets, payslips and contract advices are? We asked ourselves the same question over 6 years ago. As a national company which processes timesheets for more than 5,000 people each month, and prints and sends more than 10,000 contracts each month it was financially and administratively compelling for us to switch to an online system. The obvious benefits are the huge cost savings but the soft benefits such as data accuracy, availability of records any time, ease of access, audit and management trail are not something that should be overlooked.

Now, let’s breakdown the real costs of processing a paper timesheet:

  • Administrative Labours cost – the direct cost of processing paper timesheets to electronic records so payroll can be processed – this is often an administration cost.
  • Management labour cost – In an environment where budgets are restricted management time is very precious – so when managers are processing paper timesheets where they are authorising, calculating totals and checking audit trails – this is a high price and takes up valuable management time
  • Stationery cost – Multiple printing of the same document so that it can be authorised at the different level + postage costs if you have multi-site organisations
  • Accuracy of data – Data often is not legible causing error in data entry and potentially overpayments
  • Loss of timesheets – records are lost in the paper trial – no audit of actual work done
  • No budgeting and cost allocation – difficult to budget as often timesheets are submitted late therefore not knowing true costs at any point in time.

It is difficult to put a financial figure to this as there are many different factors which make up the cost. Let’s take the example of an organisation processing a sessional staff of 300 people a month – if all the costs are added the approximate cost to process a paper timesheet could be in the region of £25 – £45 per employee – that’s a minimum £7,500 a month just to process the timesheets, and at the upper limit its £13,500 a month – and that does not include the cost or recording contract advices, notification of contract changes and producing paper payslips! You could probably add another £5 per employee on top of the standard cost to cover the additional services. When we add everything in the real transaction processing cost could exceed £100,000 for a pool of 300 sessional staff, and this does not take into account any error rate in processing the complex transactions for part time staff. Is this a cost your business can afford to carry?

Switch or Stick

The question is whether to stick with an old paper based timesheet system or to change, and select an online timesheet system. More and more organisations are choosing online or cloud based timesheet systems. Inevitably, there is some work to do (pain to take!) to make a change; but can you afford not to as it will benefit your organisation in the long term, in perpetuity!

Changing will save lots of time, reduce errors and duplications and your key staff could enjoy better work life balance whilst enabling them to focus on using their valuable skills on higher-value error checking and exception reporting rather than shifting paper! Time gained will allow the team to manage timetables, check and approve timesheets wherever they are and still meet important deadlines, no longer able to blame the bulging pile of paper that needs to be shifted!

There are also mind-set, cultural barriers to overcome in order for the management of an organisation to look favourably on an alternative online timesheet system to their current paper variety. Some common misconceptions are:

  • Too costly – “a new system would be very costly to install and run, never mind the hours the IT Department will have to spend”. In fact with an online or cloud based system you don’t need any input from the IT Department as all software is stored on the provider’s network and they will be responsible for the maintenance of the software.
  • Too risky – “its too risky to change from the system we are already using because there is a greater risk of error”. This also isn’t true as online systems aren’t prone to handwriting errors, ink smudges, torn (or lost) paper or misaligned information. Online systems also allow instant view and checking of records and date checking so if there are errors then they can be addressed immediately. With the increased visibility and transparency of online systems incidences of deliberate malpractice or time errors should be decreased.

With all these factors can you really afford to use a paper based / spread sheet system? It’s time to adopt the cloud and upgrade to an online system. If you’re thinking “I need to look into this”, I’m not going to do the hard sell – but at Protocol we do have the only sessional staff management software tailored to FE available on the market; so if you want to find out more about how going online can save you money please do get in touch or you can find more info atwww.ozola.co.uk

Hasin started his career within the Protocol Group over 19 years ago. He has successfully implemented new online technologies, streamlined interfaces between different business systems and managed the development of new web applications. He has extensive experience working in partnership with leading IT providers both in the UK and Europe.

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