If you are shopping around for time and expense reporting software, you already know you need more than a simple punch-punch out system. You already know—even if you can’t quite put your finger on how—that a robust system is going to rev up your business analytics, profits, and practices and take you to another level.

While the functionality of different time tracking software varies, we’ve put together a list of nine best practices to keep in mind so you can access the most valuable insights and maximize the benefits of time tracking.

Ready to find out what to do—and a little of what not to do—so you can get started on the next step in your business analytics? Let’s go!

1. Set Your Goals

Are you only time tracking because you read about it in a blog somewhere and thought it sounded good? Great! That’s why we write these things. Even so, it’s important to know exactly what you want to get out of asking your team to track their time and expenses.

Some of the more common questions company leaders want answered are: What are we working on? How much should we bill our clients? Are we optimizing our resource capacity? How much are we investing in different kinds of projects, and which are more profitable? What tasks are costing us too much money? How accurate are our time and budget projections?

If you can only guess at the answers to any of these questions, or if it takes you far too long to get the answers, then you definitely need to consider implementing time reporting in your business.

2. Pilot the Program

Depending on your natural tendency to get excited about shiny new tools, you might be ready to just hop right one the time tracking train—we get it. Good data is exciting. However, every new system and protocol takes time to get right. It’s difficult to support your employees through the implementation stage when you or other go-to team members are not already comfortable and at least relatively confident.

Once you have decided on your goals, consider whether or not you will need different kinds of data from different teams or departments, and pilot each with a small group. Ensure that anyone who is going to be auditing, reviewing, or answering questions about the process is involved, and don’t be afraid to make adjustments as you go!

3. Invest Time Up-front

The awesome thing about robust time tracking systems is that they allow you to set rules and parameters to ensure that you get good data. Take the time to set up data validation. The more errors you can eliminate up-front, the better for everyone. Besides, isn’t the point of investing in a smart program to take advantage of its smarts?

4. Round Time

In addition to data validation, you can make your accounting and project management teams happier—as well as remain compliant with FLSA regulations—by setting up your minute increment rules.

Keep in mind that if you always round down, especially for hourly workers, you might be in danger of violating FLSA minimum wage and overtime pay rules, as well as demotivating your team members. You might decide that properly rounding up using small increments benefits you without being dishonest or violating any ethical or regulations.

5. Avoid Feedback

You don’t hear that one very often, right? For at least the initial phases of using time and expense tracking, avoid using the data to have conversations about efficiency or performance. Employees often are predisposed to hate time tracking and feel like it’s a Big Brother-esque accountability tool that will be used to punish them.

Continue with feedback and conversations about performance as usual, but until it’s a more normal part of the organization, allow your employees to bring up the new time tracking system as a solution rather than a log of their poor performance.

6. Request Feedback

Your implementation of the new system won’t escape criticism so easily. Employees want to be heard and want to be part of decision-making—and you need to know what your time tracking system is like in the trenches, so to speak. Use your pilot program feedback to develop further questions and performance indicators to watch for, and request specific feedback on those.

Alternatively, give employees the opportunity to provide specific, constructive feedback about how the rollout process is going as well as suggestions they may have for improving its use.

7. Make It Easy

If possible, don’t force the timer feature or insist on precise tracking to the minute for manual entries. Enable any smart features you can—like calendar syncing—so that your team doesn’t even have to think about actively tracking their time, and encourage daily routines for manual time entry. Set up daily reminders for your team, but reduce their frequency as they become more used to the process.

Also consider investing in a software with a mobile timesheet app so that your team can log their time from anywhere quickly and easily.

8. Make It Quick

Whatever you are asking of your team really should not take more than 10 minutes of their day on average. If you need super detailed information about where time is being spent and on what tasks, then ask your account rep how they can build you a system that integrates with your ERP system and other software in order to reduce the burden on your employees themselves. Getting your team to make daily commitment to log time is easy if the task itself is easy.

9. Build Buy-In

We put this one last in case you skipped to the bottom of the list, but don’t forget this crucial first—and ongoing—step in your journey to rolling out new software. The initial explanation needs to come from the very top, but the messaging must be consistent and aligned when it comes to why your company is making this change, what you’re trying to achieve, and how each person will benefit.

It is not enough to tell all employees that new software will help your accounting department or increase profit for the company. Your buy-in message needs to be connected to your employees’ interest in their own well-being in order to stick, but it also needs to be genuine.

Make Time and Expense Reporting a Breeze with Journx

Any new system is expected to come with a few headaches and even missteps along the way. One of the benefits of partnering with Journyx is our award-winning customer support and active user community.

For more information about how Journyx, the first 100% web-based time and expense tracking application, is one of the top solutions available to business owners who are ready to take the next step, schedule a customized demo online today.