Top 5 Reasons Paper Time Sheets Suck And Why You Should Replace Them

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Surprisingly, many businesses still rely on paper time sheets for employees to track their attendance on the job.  Not only is using time sheets so “Triassic”, many businesses aren’t quite sure how to go about effectively looking for a time and attendance software solution to vault themselves into the 21st Century and put a stop to the abuse that paper time sheets present. Let’s take a closer look at the top 5 reasons using paper time sheets sucks and why you should consider replacing them.

Reason #1 – Paper Time Sheets Cause Payroll Clerical Errors

Payroll staff often times make gaffes when trying to interpret the scribble they come across on paper time sheets.  “Is that a 1 or a 7?”  “This name looks like John Smith but the handwriting is so sloppy it could be Jane Smith – which person do I give credit to for hours worked?”  “I can’t read that number, the ink smudged when someone spilled Red Bull on the sign in sheet. Looks like a 5 to me.”  “The faxed timesheet I received is blotted, but I don’t have time to reconcile it before payroll is due, I’ll just mark this employee for his regular hours worked based on past time sheets.”

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Using paper time sheets often times causes unnecessary interpretation errors and the chance for human error is multiplied when hours are re-entered into a payroll system  This can lead to over or understating time that employees worked causing unnecessary problems and losses.

Reason #2 – Paper Time Sheets Cause Losses in Productivity

Imagine a payroll staff that has to constantly chase down employees for their time sheets especially at satellite locations, scrambling to interpret hours worked and illegible handwriting so payroll submission deadlines can be met.  How about the extra time that it takes payroll staff to enter hours worked by re-keying the data into a computer payroll software program?  What other productive tasks could those payroll employees be doing in the absence of paper time sheets?

One of our end users had payroll staff that used to spend an entire weekend transferring  payroll data to Excel spreadsheets so they could meet their deadlines.

Reason #3 – Employees Lie On Their Time Sheets

Who?  My employees? Never!  The truth is that according to a survey by the American Payroll Association, the average business wastes 4% of its payroll in clerical errors (see Reason #1) and improperly recorded time.  In fact, time theft through buddy punching affects 75% of businesses in the U.S. and can cost a business up to 7% of gross payroll annually.  For example, if your payroll is $500,000, that’s $35,000 per year.  Yikes.

Reason #4 – Paper Timesheets Lead To Inaccurate Job Costs

As John Meibers pointed out in a recent blog posting:

The lag time associated with paper-based field data collection delays job cost updates. And having inaccurate job costs makes project management tasks more difficult and accurate projections particularly challenging. Diligent project managers often keep their own job cost logs in spreadsheets to aid their decision-making. While admirable, one might argue whether this is really the best use of a project manager’s time.”

Enough said.  Well put John.



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Reason #5 – Paper Time Sheets Get Lost, Misplaced Or Damaged

Relying on paper time Sheets for time and attendance is like giving someone a piece of paper, asking them to go for a three mile jog in shorts and a t-shirt in the pouring rain with only an umbrella and to return with the paper undamaged and dry. Sure, you have no doubt that they will do their best to protect that piece of paper and it’s certainly possible that they could keep the paper dry, but what if a sudden wind gust blows it out of their hand or blows the rain sideways?  What if a car drives by and splashes them before they can protect the paper with the umbrella? Why set yourself up for failure by relying on paper time sheets that are prone to getting lost, misplaced or damaged?

Meeting payroll deadlines is tight, steadfast and one of the most crucial aspects of running a successful business. Why risk missing it or submit an erroneous payroll summary?  Unhappy, unpaid employees = poor business performance.  Overpaid employees = angry business owners/shareholders.

How To Solve The Problem

Invest in biometric time and attendance solutions.  Biometric identification for time and attendance increases productivity, eliminates buddy punching, lowers costs, increases speed, boosts operational efficiencies, helps to achieve higher returns on investment and establishes accountability.  Please take a moment to browse some of our previous blog posts by clicking on one of the underlined words in the previous sentence and learn more about how biometric technology is a smart move after ditching your paper timesheets.

The dinosaurs would be proud that you moved on.

Please share with us your most tragic paper timesheet story in the comment section below.  We are all ears….

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John Trader

John Trader is the Public Relations and Marketing Manager with M2SYS Technology, a recognized industry leader in biometric identity management technology. Headquartered in Atlanta, GA M2SYS Technology's mission is to pioneer the high-tech industry by delivering long-term value to customers, employees and partners through continued innovation and excellence in all aspects of our business. M2SYS continues to innovate, build and bring to market leading-edge biometrics solutions that revolutionize the industry and expand the applicability of biometrics technology in our marketplace. You can view their Web site at or contact them via e-mail at

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