Timesheet approvals can matter… a lot!

When looking at a timesheet used for a single purpose such as time and attendance, then timesheet approvals are straightforward.  Who is responsible for this employee’s attendance?  Were they working?  Were they on vacation or sick leave?  Ok, approved!

With remote work now much more common, there are more questions for time and attendance that can make approvals a bit more complex but the process is the same.  Approvals for one purpose timesheets is essentially a one-dimensional matrix.

But, how do you handle approvals for a timesheet that was deployed for multiple purposes?  That can be more complex.  When you have a multi-purpose timesheet like TimeControl, it turns out that everyone would like a seat at the approvals table.  The more purposes in use for the same timesheet data, the more dimensions to the timesheet approval matrix.

Let’s imagine a couple of scenarios

Timesheets used for Payroll plus Project Management updates

This was the first two-dimensional matrix that we ever confronted with TimeControl.  Project Managers needed to approve work before it is accepted into the project management system.  That might include hours of course but also non-labor resource usage, estimates to complete a task or indications that a task is done.  A project manager might need updates weekly or even more frequently if in an industrial environment.

The Payroll Department isn’t interested in what was done at all. They need to know if the employee was working or not and if not, whether that was part of an entitlement like vacation or sick leave time or if it was an unpaid absence.  The updates to Payroll might only need to happen every other week or twice a month or on some other schedule.

TimeControl’s approval design accommodates this perfectly with the overall timesheet approval happening at the organizational level with whoever is responsible for that employee’s attendance and then, once the timesheet totals are settled, at a line-by-line level for the project manager.  It’s part of the Matrix Approval Process for Labor Actuals™ which we created in the 1990s.

Timesheets used for Project Management updates, Billing and Capitalization

Ok, let’s take something with three dimensions.  Now we still need projects to be updated and we still need project managers to look at things line by line but we need other line-by-line approvals.   Here the total amount for the timesheet could be locked in by an organizational approver or automatically as part of TimeControl Workflow.  Then project managers would approve items line-by-line in the Project Manager Validation screen in TimeControl.

A billing manager could see something very similar in the Line Item Approval screen and approve or reject lines for invoicing from there.  Then an automated transfer from TimeControl to Invoicing would include only those items marked as approved to invoice.

A similar exercise could be done by Finance for use in Capitalizing some work.  Depending on the situation, some work could be invoiced and still capitalized.  Some work might not be invoiced and still be capitalizable.  The numbers are important particularly for Sarbanes-Oxley compliant firms as the numbers are auditable so having a trace of who approved these timesheet hours for Capitalization is important.

Timesheets used for Human Resources plus R&D tax credits

Let’s take a look at a different two-dimensional approval process.  Here the HR department really needs to see who took time off and whether that time was an approved absence, whether that was part of an entitlement like vacation or sick leave that needs to be reflected in the bank of vacation or sick leave for that employee and what balance is left for those banks for the employee in the future.  Here an organizational person who is responsible for the employee’s attendance and approved absences will review the timesheet and sign off on the totals.  This process could be sped up using TimeControl’s Workflow functionality to automatically approve timesheet totals under certain conditions.  For example, if the timesheet already has the expected total of 40 hours and there are no exceptions like sick leave or time off then the timesheet totals could get automatic approval right away.  That leaves only the timesheets with exceptions to be reviewed.

Tasks eligible for R&D credits have to be approved line-by-line so that can be done in TimeControl’s Line-Item-Approval function.  The accepted tasks end up in the R&D tax return for credits and rejected tasks are not considered for this purpose.  This is usually distinct from project approvals or billing approvals as someone in Finance will have to be responsible for this portion of the tax return.

TimeControl’s remarkable approval functionality has been tested in countless scenarios and is so flexible that even if additional dimensions to the approval challenge arrive later, you can add these onto the process without having to restart.

TimeControl technical staff are experienced not just in TimeControl’s functionality but also in how to create a working process for different elements of the organization at the same time.  That kind of skill and experience isn’t as common as you might think.

You can find out more about TimeControl’s approval functionality at TimeControl.com/use-cases/matrix-approvals. On that page you’ll find a number of different resources including the white paper “Creating your Approval Process in TimeControl” which covers more elements of the timesheet approval challenge.