5 Timesheet Template Alternatives to Traditional Timesheets

Is there a Future for Employee Timesheet Templates?


November 7th, 2019 Employee Timesheet  

At its core, the purpose of an employee timesheet is to create accountability. Of course, it also helps with other subsidiary goals like scheduling tasks, keeping track of hours worked, creating effective payroll management, and improving the company’s overall productivity level.

Employee timesheet tracking is of paramount importance and there are multiple ways to accomplish the goal. Many companies like to create an employee timesheet template and stick to it for recording attendance data. The paper-based timesheet template has worked well for many years, but it’s quickly becoming obsolete in today’s digital world where everything moves at the tap of a finger. Depending solely on manual timesheet templates creates a horde of problems, and there are definitely better ways to handle this predicament.

Disadvantages of using employee timesheet templates

At least in the U.S., employers are legally obliged to maintain records about their employee timesheets. They have to maintain the information about each individual’s work hours each day and the total number of hours completed per week.

But despite the growing impetus, a majority of the companies still rely on a traditional employee timesheet template for the purpose of accomplishing the task. And then there is a bigger problem surrounding employee attendance –  everybody hates timesheets. 

Manual employee timesheet templates:

  • Are cost-intensive and unreliable for data collection
  • Make the employee timesheet approval process cumbersome and tedious
  • Cause problems while tracking individual working hours due to inflexibility 
  • Are subject to a serious risk of human errors and neglect
  • Can result in employee time theft and other policy violations
  • Leave employers to pay their employees based on guesswork
  • Harden the process of compounding billable hours for remote workers

Top 5 alternatives to traditional timesheet templates

The main reason why no one likes an excel-based timesheet is not the timesheet template itself but the cumbersome, administrative-intensive, and time-consuming process that surrounds them. From filling employee timesheet templates to submitting, and processing them, to processing salaries, the entire process is a nightmare. Accounting systems and manual processing can neither make it easy nor simplify the process for all stakeholders. 

Luckily, there are an array of alternatives for traditional timesheet templates. The trick is finding one that fits your organization and process.

Listed below are some traditional timesheet template alternatives businesses can adopt:

1. Excel-based employee timesheet templates

Administrative staff can easily set up excel-based employee timesheet templates. Its major advantage over paper-based timesheets is its ability to consolidate everything into one payroll datasheet using macros. Once set up, it is easy to distribute these templates. 


  • Excel templates can be difficult to use. 
  • Timesheet templates can often end up “stuck” in an email or spam filter.
  • The time/date stamp of email is not sufficient for reporting

2. Access card or biometric access

While an access card swiping system can help businesses extract information like employee log in time, employee log out time, working hours, absenteeism, and more. However, these time capture tools cannot detect the time employees actually spend working and the task they work on. 

While biometric access tools are more secure than the access card system, it has a number of downsides like the inability to track actual working hours, tasks worked on, and more.


  • Access card systems are subject to policy violations like buddy punching
  • Lack of features to track the actual number of hours worked

3. Payroll software

While it is possible to use a payroll solution for timekeeping, not all payroll software have time clock features. A few payroll systems that come with an employee-facing portal, allow employees to submit their timesheets for payroll processing. 


  • Most payroll systems can’t copy hours worked or the complete timesheets
  • There are restrictions for timesheet creation and processing
  • Advanced time tracking features like overtime, remote work tracking can be a problem 

4. In-house HR systems

On-premise HR software allow employees and other resources to submit timesheets offline. With specific rules and policies, employees can validate employee working hours and time-off information. On-premise HR tools can retrieve necessary approvals from supervisors and managers. Best of all, the login and password security is usually enough proof for approval authentication. 


  • Most on-premise software have a very rigid software architecture
  • Since they are not integration-friendly, there will be more room for data redundancy
  • Increased strain and dependency on the IT department

5. Cloud-based HR apps

Cloud-based HR apps allow businesses the freedom to choose which features they want, freedom to personalize the app interface, and options to create a workflow from scratch. Since they are ready-to-use, businesses just need to purchase subscriptions, enroll their employees to the app, and start using it in no time at all. 

One such example is Kissflow HR Cloud, which is an all-in-one HR cloud with an array of core HR and supporting HR functions. IIts employee timesheet tracking module allows businesses the flexibility to tweak the virtual workflow model to fit their actual process so that employees don’t have to stick with default templates.


  • May offer reduced functionality or features
  • May have a lot more dependence on the vendor 

HR Cloud

Features every employee timesheet solution must have

Yes, it’s time to wave paper-based employee timesheet templates goodbye. Not because they are entirely ineffective, but because there is a better way to do it. There are a lot of innovative solutions for businesses today to make their employee timesheets a breeze.

Let’s take a look at some fundamental features that you should look for when contemplating adopting to such employee timesheet template solutions:

1. Automated employee timesheets

Business process automation is becoming increasingly popular because of the benefits that it offers. You can take any well-established process in your organization and automate it to yield great results. Creating a customizable employee timesheet app and automating the timesheet process is no exception. All that you have to do is create a template for capturing all the relevant information to begin with. You can make the form fields pre-populated, hence reducing the amount of time employees spend on typing data manually.

2. Access to the cloud

The software ecosystem in the business world is definitely heading towards a cloud-based future. A cloud-based automated app can offer great flexibility in terms of data access regardless of where a person is located. Remote employees can fill their hours through mobile phone or a laptop without having to come to the office. Similarly, managers can review the timesheet and HR can approve or take proper actions on employee attendance irrespective of their geographical location.

3. Customization

Many on-premise software options come with a very rigid software architecture that are hard to work around with. With cloud-based apps, that’s changing because these platforms allow users to choose which features they want, freedom to personalize the app interface, and options to create a workflow from scratch.

4. Integration

In today’s age of IT democratization, you can’t expect a HR software that is an island in itself and doesn’t connect readily with other software. Similarly, a solution that comes with a baggage of coding requirements is a sheer waste of time. If an employee timesheet tracking process is an HR need, so it should be easy for any HR personnel to take control of it. If they want to integrate the employee timesheet management system with the payroll software, they should be able to do it on their own and without the dependency on the IT team.

So, when automating your employee timesheet process, make sure you pick an all-in-one HR solution that gels well with your existing HR processes and makes sense to your HR team.

Test drive automated employee timesheet template today

It is inefficient and arduous to track and validate employee timesheet templates. At an age where managers typically waste more than 15 hours every month on an average to sort employee timesheets, automation is a blessing you shouldn’t ignore. Automating the timesheet approval processes simplifies data collection, validation, and saves HRs the trouble of manually updating employee records.

If you want to test drive automation for timesheet management in your organization, go with Kissflow’s HR Cloud free demo. Leave paper-based timesheets in the past and take the next logical step towards creating a smart workplace.

Kissflow HR Cloud