It's About Time...

Customizing Employee Time Cards

At the heart of all employee time clock software programs is the ability to access employee time and attendance information for payroll, labor costing, and even client billing. If gathering the information you need to effectively manage your business is a burden or the result of redundant processes, then you're less likely to experience the time and cost saving advantages of automating your time tracking process in the first place. A good time clock system will be backed by a powerful and efficient SQL database engine and built-in report writer that will make gathering and using your time and attendance data a breeze.

Most time clock programs accomplish this by providing a good selection of customizable, ready to use time clock reports for sorting and selecting data by activity, department, leave, shift, or employee. Each one of the built-in reports offers a different look at the time clock data, automatically grouped to reflect hours, overtime, leave, and unpaid time for any date range. Detail reports should allow you to look at your time clock data as individual entries for each activity for in-depth analysis. Summary reports are perfect for a snap-shot view for management, accounting, or to streamline your payroll entry. A robust report writer should give plenty of options for selecting and sorting time clock data. Here are some report settings that your business shouldn't do without.

Detail and Summary Reports
Your time clock program should allow you to select different report types. The report type determines how the report will display time and attendance data. Detail reports list every recorded start and stop time for the date range selected, the date of all leave entries, and any time card notes associated with the entries. Summary reports only display the totals for each group for the date range selected.

Time Totals
Your time clock program should allow you to set how you want time totals to be displayed. If you try to enter employee hours into your payroll program as hours and minutes but it's expecting decimal hours, then you'll be underpaying your employees most of the time. For example, eight hours and fifteen minutes can be displayed as either 8:15 or 8.25.

Selection and Sort
Your time clock program should allow you to choose what time clock data is to be selected, and how it is to be grouped and sorted for each report. Think of this as the 'Who' and the 'What' of your employee time card reports. Hours, overtime, and even wages need to be grouped in order to be meaningful. For example, you may want to run a report for all labor hours recorded against a specific job. Or maybe you just want to see all time taken for paid breaks last week. The report writer should make it easy to create and customize these kinds of reports.

Report Display Options
The report writer should have an easy to use interface for choosing what optional features to include on the report. You should be able to sub-total daily hours, weekly hours, and hours for the entire group, determine if salaried worker hours are to be included, and whether gross wages and employee wage information are to be displayed on the report. You should also be able to optionally include whether employee identification numbers, social security numbers, and any time card notes are displayed on the report.

Signature Line
An important part of any employee time card is the signature line acknowledging that the hours are a true and accurate record of all time worked during the pay period. You should be able to customize the signature line text to express the policies of your business. For example, you may want employees to sign their time card acknowledging that they received all of their rest and meal periods during the period covered by the time card.

Report Format
There should be an easy way to format the page layout of the report. You should be able to configure the report margins, font, font size, line spacing, and page orientation for each report.

Report Dates
You should be able to set the default date range selection when the report is run. This is helpful, for example, if you usually run a worker leave report for the current year.

How to Use the Time Clock Report Data
Now that you've got the data, the question becomes what to do with it. Here are some ideas.

Simplify Payroll
This is probably the main reason you're using time clock software. Generate instant time card reports from all of your employee punch in and out times based on your payroll rules. Regular hours, overtime, and paid leave time are instantly calculated and totaled for easy input into your payroll software, or sent to your accountant or payroll service. Manual and modified time card entries are flagged for easy followup and monitoring. Time card notes from employees explaining a late or missed punch allow you to quickly adjust time card entries and print new time cards before sending off to payroll.

Manage Labor Costs
This one may be less obvious, but certainly has value for your business. Use those same employee time card payroll punches for labor costing. By including employee gross wages, your time card reports can be summarized to provide you with labor hours and dollar costs for any activity, job, or department for any period of time. Labor costing reports will quickly show you actual labor hours and costs on a per job basis.

Automate Client Billing
If you're already summarizing time card reports by client, job, or department for labor cost analysis, then turn that same information into the accurate billing of client labor hours. Run time card status reports to make sure you're remaining within project budgets before the project ends. Set your time clock rounding calculations for billing to the nearest minute, or in tenth or quarter hour increments. Your time tracking labor totals can now be easily entered into your billing or accounting software for accurate and timely billing of your labor.