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Issues & Solutions When Switching Time Tracking Systems

Scott Key |

Congrats! Just by visiting ExakTime’s web site and blog, you’ve taken the first steps towards dramatically improving productivity in your business.

The small hurdles commonly faced when onboarding to a new time tracking system are easy to jump over, with a bit of preparation. I detail a few scenarios I’ve seen below, and how to approach them to make implementation as smooth as possible.

Field Worker Adoption

A central part of getting away from paper time cards is getting your employees in the field on board with the changes that are coming. Some of them will adapt quickly to the new system. And for the most part employees resisting these new tools aren’t trying to cheat the system—they are just having trouble with the change.

PROBLEM: Not enough communication before rolling out the tool.

SOLUTION: Practice early, open communication. Tell your field workers that you plan to implement a new time tracking system. Give them a short demo of the tool.

PROBLEM: Fears about payment issues.

SOLUTION: Make sure your employees know you’ll be running dual time cards (paper and electronic) for the first payroll or two.

PROBLEM: Fear of change to their standard process.

SOLUTION: Praise people who do it well. After using the system for a week or two, make sure to highlight the employees doing a good job at using the system at a meeting.

EXAMPLE: Many years ago a customer of ours decided to get her employees on board with the new system early. She put out a $50 bill and a can of Budweiser. She told them all that the new time tracking system would be simple. Just use green to start making money (and she held up the $50), and you use red (she held up the Budweiser can) when the day is done and you are ready for a beer. It got a good laugh out of the group, and got her point across.

Implementation Timelines

When purchasing a new software to solve a problem, it’s common to want an instant fix. But implementation of new software does involve a ramping up, or adjustment, period.

PROBLEM: Getting the system deployed and your workers using it reliably to replace paper time cards takes a couple of weeks.

SOLUTION: Prepare a roll-out plan in advance. It doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does need to be realistic. Set a target date to get the app installed on everyone’s phones, or the clocks deployed to the job sites, and build in a week after that for your employees to practice. Nobody’s perfect, so expect some mistakes in the beginning. Once they’ve tried it for a week, you can move on to the next phase, which is to use the system for your actual payroll.

A FEW TIPS

  • Make sure you have a realistic timeline in mind.
  • Track time with both the new and old systems for the first pay period. This will help you see that it works, and it will help assure your workers that their pay is accurate.
  • You’ll want to run for another full pay period with just your new system.
  • The whole process takes around 30 days for anyone running payroll every other week or around 15 days for anyone running weekly payroll.

Data Consistency

PROBLEM: Getting your employee and job data from an older system into your new time tracking system.

SOLUTION: Make sure you are using consistent naming and numbering techniques. This goes a long way to ensure data flows smoothly back and forth.

Just be sure that you’ve cleaned up your data before doing an import. Deactivate your old, closed out jobs. Remove employees who don’t work for you anymore. Trust us when we say that a clean data set is a happy data set.

EXAMPLE: We work with a client who had over 18,000 cost codes (activity items), and each was part of a location phase. ExakTime was able to import all the cost codes and make sure only the relevant ones were viewable for each location, greatly simplifying a process that would have been a nightmare to handle manually.

Prepare for Changes to your Processes

PROBLEM: Do you keep your processes in place, or do you create new ones based on how the software works?

SOLUTION: Being flexible and open to process change (while still getting the data you need) is the key to scaling your operations and keeping accurate time records.

A FEW TIPS

Don’t hold on too tight to those forms you used to have your employees fill out on each job. Look for ways you can get that data in your new system.

  • Be open to changing the way you get your payroll records to your accountant.
  • Keep an open mind to new ways of categorizing your jobs and projects.

Know what you need and what your requirements are, and then work with the experts at the time tracking company to figure out how to implement those needs.

EXAMPLE: One of my clients used a very complicated payroll report that they would generate in Excel, pulling data from multiple sources. ExakTime used a custom exporter to get most of that data straight to their accounting package, while the rest still went to the report. This saved our client lots of time in the long run and simplified their payroll process.


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Professional Service Manager Scott Key has been focused on helping customers make use of the ExakTime system and improving their experience with our software for over five years. He loves making sure our customers are successful as well as tackling the challenges he encounters when dealing with unique use cases.

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