Designing an effective timesheet approval process for both Project Management and Finance

There’s a reason the Matrix Approval Process is at the top of our Use-Case Scenarios Solutions page on

When HMS was created in 1984, our first-ever project included a requirement to write a timesheet that would be used both by Payroll and Project Management.  “Easy,” we thought.  The payroll people needed an auditable count-on-able record of time and attendance.  The project people needed updates to pre-planned tasks in the project management system we helped select and implement.

Easy isn’t how it went.  The needs of the Finance department and the needs of the Project Office seemed severely opposed.  As we delved deeper into the design, it became apparent that the real disagreements all centered around how approvals of the data would be accomplished.  Our first pass had the project people doing all the approvals first then sending the data to Finance.  That was not successful.  Our next try had project people and Finance people all doing approvals at the same time.  Also, not successful.  Finally we spent numerous days barricaded in a conference room working the flow and the priorities of the flow of data for the approvals and the result was the Matrix Approval Process for Labor Actuals™.

Ten years later when TimeControl was released as a commercial off the shelf timesheet product, the lessons we learned from that first attempt along with the 7 or 8 timesheet systems we’d written for clients in the intervening time came along.  The purpose of TimeControl was to deliver a timesheet that would have auditable Finance quality data that could be used for purposes like Payroll, Billing, R&D tax credits, DCAA compliance and more and yet, at its heart, be a project-oriented task-based timesheet system.  The core of that design is the Matrix Approval Process.

There’s lots of data woven into different elements of our collateral and materials.  We’ve tried to put as much of it as we can into the website itself where there are white papers, webcasts, slide shows and factsheets on how to create a timesheet approval process with both Finance and Project Management in mind.  You’ll find it at