Five Tips for Getting Staff to Enter Timesheets in Architectural/Engineering Firms

I’ve interviewed hundreds of Project Managers at Architectural/Engineering firms over the past twenty years and it seems the number one complaint never changes:  “Our employees just won’t enter their timesheets”.   I love to come back with a quick “Why won’t they?”

Usually the feedback during these conversations has something to do with time – your staff doesn’t have time, your staff won’t make the time or because they don’t want to do administrative tasks so they can be billable all of the time.

My next question usually goes something like this “Why don’t you show them that it is imperative that you have this information for accountability and profitability analysis?”  It still amazes me that Architectural and Engineering firms have such an issue with getting employees to do daily timesheets when it is the lifeline of your business.    As you know, timesheets in your firms tell you where the most time is being spent on a project and this correlates to all budgeting and scheduling on the particular job.

When you spend time with your team showing them the real-time information you use from timesheets so they can see and understand the business implications, I usually find the employee is more receptive to keeping up with the goal of daily entry.  They need to understand that your Project Management system is integrated and the timesheet information is used for more than billing or being passed to payroll.   The next time an employee balks at your request for detailed timesheet entry and tell you they don’t have time – you can be prepared to show them why taking the few minutes now can help you to see if the project they are working on is over/under budget, making the firm money, etc.

In summary, 5 tips for getting staff to enter timesheets in architectural/engineering firms:

  1. Use a system that integrates your timesheets with project reports so that you have real-time data to show your staff.   If you have a disconnected system that requires duplicate entry it is harder to convince your team that you really do use the data.
  2. Show your employees the key indicator reports that you use to measure metrics on projects.
  3. Use a system that makes daily time entry simple.  The easier it is for them to enter the data for the day, the more likely they will do it.
  4. Implement a system that provides an option for time entry via iPhone or iPad so the time entry can be done on-site or at home.
  5. Lead by example!