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Payroll Operations

NetSuite Timesheets: Part 1, Capturing Timesheets

Zone & Co acquired Infinet Cloud in May 2023. Please be aware that any prior mentions of Infinet Cloud, including the content below, now pertain to the unified entity. In this blog series, we look at your options for NetSuite Timesheets and give a breakdown of the pros and cons of each approach at the four key stages of managing timesheets.

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8 min read

Zone & Co acquired Infinet Cloud in May 2023. Please be aware that any prior mentions of Infinet Cloud, including the content below, now pertain to the unified entity.

In this blog series, we look at your options for NetSuite Timesheets and give a breakdown of the pros and cons of each approach at the four key stages of managing timesheets:

  • Capturing Timesheets
  • Processing Timesheets
  • Paying Timesheets
  • Reporting on Timesheets

This initial article will focus on the first, and arguably most important step, capturing timesheets in NetSuite. Our second article will review best practices for processing timesheets in NetSuite, and our third and final article will discuss the ways in which you can manage payroll based on timesheets, as well as produce the reports you need, within NetSuite, to make better business decisions.

Introduction

Managing timesheets presents businesses the world over with a cruel combination of challenges:

  • Timesheets require non-finance staff to initiate a critical financial process - always a scary proposition!
  • They are immensely important to billing and gross pay calculations. So it is essential that the time entered posts to the correct nominal accounts, projects, departments, classes, and locations.
  • The finance team has complete knowledge and control of all the posting classifications, but no insight into the ‘actual’ time worked.
  • The teams entering timesheets have all the info of the time worked, but usually little knowledge or understanding of the corresponding financial postings.
  • And the cherry on the cake…the time of the people filling in timesheets is valuable, literally – you’re tracking it in a timesheet. Usually this would mean that you, and they, would rather they were getting on with delivering value-add or billable work rather than completing admin.

If this resonates, you already know you need a solution which gives workers the ability to enter their time, quickly and accurately, within well-defined parameters to ensure that the team can get on with their work, and the finance team retain the level of control they need without having to manually enter every line into the finance system.

The good news is that if you are a NetSuite customer you are already one step ahead of the pack! Its cloud infrastructure, unified database, workflow engine and reminder portlets provide the perfect platform for businesses who are looking to grow and improve visibility of key data by removing unnecessary manual processes.

It’s likely in the top two reasons as to why you selected it in the first place.

Having implemented people-focussed solutions for almost 1,000 NetSuite customers globally, we have probably encountered every requirement, process, and budget you can imagine.

In our experience there tends to be three main options to consider for managing timesheets in NetSuite:

  • Excel Spreadsheets
  • NetSuite Employee Centre
  • SuiteApp – such as our MyPay Solution

So, let’s look at what option would best suit your needs against each stage.

Capturing Timesheets in NetSuite

Ok, step one. How do you get the time worked into NetSuite? Regardless of the tool you use this step must be completed, at least in-part, by the team who have carried out the time being reported.

The two biggest considerations here are normally:

  • How many staff do you need to enter timesheets?
    This leads to a simple cost/benefit analysis of the time taken across the organization alongside the margin for error.
  • How is your time managed?
    Do you operate a stable, consistent calendar and shift pattern with defined increments (e.g. Hourly Rates, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm) or do you have multiple shifts, variable rates, and out of hours entitlements such as overtime, evening meals, travel allowance etc?

Using Excel to Capture NetSuite Timesheets

In all honesty, we would never recommend spreadsheets for timesheets, but we live in the real world and know that sometimes something is better than nothing. So, we should acknowledge it and discuss some of the challenges it presents.

Pros:

  • This would normally be available with no additional license purchase assuming you have Office or Google Suite.
  • You have all the flexibility you could wish for to capture the required information.
  • If you operate from a template, the data can be imported into NetSuite, reducing manual entry and transposition errors.

Cons (just a few of them):

  • It is not the most secure environment to store employee or customer details.
  • There is no integration with NetSuite, so all project information, rates, employee details etc. have to be manually entered. This can become very time consuming, prone to errors, and both of these facts multiply exponentially as your volume increases.
  • They can be deleted or overwritten – either deliberately or accidentally, with limited audit trails.

Using NetSuite Employee Centre to Capture NetSuite Timesheets

Now we’re getting to the good stuff. Using a purpose-built solution which provides a secure interface for employees to enter timesheet data directly into NetSuite. Perfect, right? Yes, in some scenarios.

Referring back to our initial point, the Employee Centre provides a terrific solution for businesses but there may be some situations where your business rules may not align with how the solution captures time.

Pros:

  • It’s part of your NetSuite set-up.
  • You can use both the desktop interface and NetSuite App to enter time.
  • All data is controlled by the financial and project set-up within NetSuite.
  • Submissions, approvals and queries are automatically managed as part of your core NetSuite approvals processes.

Not Cons, but scenarios which some businesses encounter:

  • Employee centre is particularly strong for organizations who work within a well-defined and stable environment. i.e. well-defined projects, with clear tasks, structure and rigid timing classifications (e.g. managing time in hours and days).
  • It does not tend to offer flexibility for deviations from standard timesheets, such as overtime or varied working patterns.
  • Time is entered as hours worked and does not include things such as start and end time.
  • Requires users to calculate and classify their own time against different billing items should they wish to include out of hours work, or overtime.

All-in-all, this is an excellent solution for businesses who have invested in NetSuite for its single data source and interface to manage all core business functions. As with a lot of things in the software world, though, particularly by the time you are investing in a solution like NetSuite, you may need specific functionality which is not available as standard.Should you require some more flexibility in terms of the way you capture and manage time, but still want NetSuite to remain as the primary solution, keep reading, MyPay is probably perfect for you.

Using MyPay to Capture NetSuite Timesheets

We’re still at the good stuff. Still system-driven, still purpose-built, still secure, and still ensuring data is controlled by, and visible in, NetSuite.

MyPay presents a unique offering to NetSuite customers.

Normally, when you look to introduce a third-party SuiteApp to manage a process like timesheets or expenses, you often gain functionality in one area at the expense of the management and visibility of data within NetSuite. I.e. the new solution is built specifically to manage the process, but it does so standalone, meaning that all of the action happens elsewhere – a new interface and another repository for data. The opposite of why you invested in NetSuite.

This often results in additional expense to take critical data out of your core NetSuite set-up whilst re-engineering the approval processes and reports you had already invested time and money in within NetSuite.

As a Built for NetSuite Hybrid App, MyPay  gives you the best of both worlds.

The solution does manage part of the process externally to NetSuite. However, having taken a ‘NetSuite first’ approach, MyPay exists, uniquely, almost as a sidecar to your NetSuite system. Everything is still driven by NetSuite, and all data is shared automatically between the systems. This ensures that your users can enter time as you need them to in the real world, MyPay processes this and outputs that data in a format which NetSuite can process. Satisfying the needs of business at every stage.

MyPay also offers options for time entry, including pre-defined shift patterns, total hours worked, or start and end time.

Pros:

  • It functions as part of your NetSuite set-up.
  • Mobile and Desktop Version Available.
  • All data is controlled by the financial and project set-up within NetSuite.
  • Submissions, approvals and queries are automatically managed as part of your core NetSuite approvals processes. Plus, it includes the option to introduce another level of authorization prior to reaching NetSuite if you wish.
  • Flexibility to enter and manage time based on real-world scenarios of existing NetSuite customers across all industries.
  • Pre-defined shift patterns, overtime and employee entitlement calculation as standard.
  • Auto-save functionality to remove the risk of work being lost in the field.

Cons:

  • It’s not a NetSuite module, but it is built specifically for NetSuite, certified by NetSuite as ‘Built for NetSuite’, and only enhances your investment in NetSuite. Not really a con, then!

Summary

Even the most effective solution may still encounter challenges when managing timesheets due to the complex nature of the process and number of moving parts. So, you must find a solution which strikes the best balance across the board to reduce the amount of work required for those entering the timesheets, but also the finance team who ultimately receive and process them.

If you have invested in NetSuite, you should keep NetSuite as the primary database in the conversation wherever possible. That is its unique selling point and provides you with an unrivaled platform to streamline your operations and improve reporting.

Whilst Excel is a necessary evil for a lot of businesses, it is not an efficient or safe way to process sensitive or important data. NetSuite’s Employee Centre provides a great solution for NetSuite customers but there may be instances where your specific requirements do not align with the standard functionality, and therefore another solution may be more effective.

MyPay is a perfect option as it simply extends NetSuite to ensure you have the flexibility you need to track time in different ways, but ensures that all data, approvals and reporting are kept within NetSuite.  

Learn More

Video: Auto-calculate employee entitlement from timesheet

Video: Autosave on NetSuite timesheets

Video: Shift patterns for NetSuite timesheets

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