How to Customize a Free Online Timesheet App to Fit Your Business Needs

Timesheets are a crucial part of managing employees and tracking work hours. However, generic timesheet apps often lack the specialized features different businesses require. Many companies are using timesheet apps for better productivity and efficiency. In the earlier days organizing timesheets was done manually. Anyways it was creating a lot of problems such as inaccuracy and taking a lot of time. 

With the evolution of technology Organizations can use innovation management tools to harness creativity, assess ideas, and implement them while also adjusting to market demands, leading to sustainable growth and a competitive edge, the timesheet was automated. At present, there are various timesheet apps available with many features that ease the employer. However, every organization is unique and they need unique timesheets. Fortunately, many free online timesheet apps allow for customization to suit your needs.

The time and effort invested in tailoring the tool to your specific environment pay continuous dividends through streamlined workflows, real-time visibility into labor costs, and deep analytics revealing actionable insights. While generic solutions provide a quick starting point, intelligent customization is imperative to unlock the true potential of your technology stack. 

Understanding Your Business Requirements

Before starting the customization process, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of your organization’s specific needs and requirements from a timesheet solution. Rushing into customizing without proper planning can result in a solution that misses the mark.

Conduct thorough requirements gathering:

  • Interview managers and employees across departments to understand their time-tracking pain points. Get their wish list for features.
  • Map out all current time-tracking workflows and processes. Identify areas of friction.
  • Document reporting needs from different teams and levels of leadership. What data is needed for decision-making?
  • Evaluate integrations needed with other systems like payroll, HRIS, accounting software etc.

Define essential features

Compile all needs into a comprehensive feature list. Prioritize must-have versus nice-to-have capabilities. Ensuring you have features to meet core requirements is critical. These may include:

  • Multiple time entry options (web, mobile, etc.)
  • Easy shift scheduling for hourly employees
  • Custom approvals matching your workflows
  • Custom fields for tracking details like projects, tasks, billable time etc.
  • Reporting on employee time, utilization, overtime, labor costs etc.

Determine roll-out strategy

Evaluate if a phased roll-out makes sense to streamline user adoption. Prioritize departments with the highest time tracking needs first. Develop a change management plan and training strategy.

Investing sufficient time in requirements gathering and planning ensures your customization efforts deliver maximum value tailored closely to your organization’s needs.

The Growing Need for Customization

In today’s complex and rapidly evolving business environment, off-the-shelf solutions rarely meet the unique needs of modern organizations. While generic timesheet apps provide basic functionality, intelligent customization is required to optimize them for your specific workflows, reporting needs, use cases and verticals.

Several key factors are driving the growing need for timesheet customization:

  • Dynamic workflows: Each company has unique approval processes, hierarchies, and mechanisms. Customization allows tailoring timesheets to match real-world workflows.
  • Evolving needs: Business requirements constantly change. Customization enables timesheets to adapt and scale with a company’s growth.
  • Role-based needs: Different roles require different timesheet views and permissions. Customization caters the experience to each employee’s responsibilities.
  • Industry-specific tracking: Timesheets can capture industry-specific data like manufacturing steps or healthcare billing codes when customized.
  • Data integration: Customization facilitates tight integration with payroll, HR, billing, and other systems for seamless data sharing.
  • Actionable analytics: Custom reports provide insights tailored to how your business evaluates costs, productivity, and trends.

The costs of an ill-fitting, one-size-fits-all solution are substantial – inaccurate time tracking leads to payroll errors, poor visibility into labor costs hampers budgeting, and lack of integrations creates productivity bottlenecks.

That’s why businesses customize their timekeeping software. The upfront investment pays dividends over time through more efficient operations.

Customizing Beyond the Default Settings

Many free timesheet apps come with basic features. But you can customize the app to suit your needs beyond the default settings:

  • Add custom fields: Capture additional data like projects, activities, expenses, etc. This allows for more granular reporting.
  • Build approval workflows: Set up conditional logic for routing timesheets for review before submission to payroll.
  • Configure notifications: Set custom reminders for timesheet deadlines, approvals pending, overtime alerts, etc.
  • Set overtime policies: Define overtime policies and thresholds and trigger alerts when close to specified limits.
  • Enable location tracking: Track employee location data along with time entries for field teams.

Generating Custom Reports

One key area to customize is reporting. Set up reports that provide the insights you need to make informed decisions.

  • Project reports: Analyze time and costs across specific clients and projects.
  • Employee utilization: Track individual and team productivity and utilization rates.
  • Labor cost reports: Monitor total labor cost over time across departments.
  • Overtime reports: Identify overtime trends across teams to improve workforce management.

Reports can be scheduled for periodic delivery or on-demand. Integrating your timesheet app with business intelligence tools like Sisense can unlock more advanced analytics.

Monitoring Costs and Billable Hours in Real Time

Real-time dashboards give you up-to-the-minute insight into employee time and costs:

  • Set hourly pay rates: Define pay rates in the system to track true labor costs.
  • Track billable time: Mark billable projects and get real-time stats on billable hours.
  • Monitor compliance: View compliance rates for timesheet submission in real time.
  • Cost center tracking: Assign employees and projects to cost centers to track costs.

Enabling real-time analytics allows you to course-correct issues proactively vs. waiting for lagging indicators.

Streamlining Workflows with Automation

Workflow automation ensures smooth administrative processes:

  • Automatic reminders: Send reminders to employees to submit timesheets on schedule.
  • Escalation rules: Route overdue timesheet approvals to managers per rules.
  • Data validation: Configure validation to prevent incorrect data entry.
  • Submission workflows: Require electronic sign-off before timesheets are finalized.

Automating routine tasks allows you to focus staff on high-value responsibilities. Integrations with workforce management scheduling tools like Deputy can be tremendously helpful.

Expanding Capabilities via Integrations

Consider integrating your customized timesheet app with complementary systems:

  • Project management tools: Sync project time entries with PM systems like Asana or Trello.
  • Accounting software: Send approved timesheets to your accounting system to streamline payroll.
  • CRM systems: Match time entries to customer records for monitoring utilization.
  • HR systems: Integration with your HCM system enables seamless data sharing.

APIs allow modern SaaS apps to integrate tightly. This eliminates redundant data entry while giving you a comprehensive view of your business operations.

Securing Your Timesheet Data

When using a free online timesheet app, data security is paramount.

  • User access controls: Limit employee access to only necessary features to protect sensitive data.
  • Encryption: Ensure the app encrypts timesheet data both in transit and at rest.
  • Auditing: Review audit logs regularly to detect suspicious access attempts.
  • Backups: Confirm the app performs regular backups so data can be restored in an emergency.

Don’t sacrifice security for convenience. Scrutinize the selected vendor’s security practices before rollout.

Key Takeaways

  • Assess your unique business needs before selecting and customizing a timesheet solution. Features like shift scheduling and location tracking may be required for your use case.
  • Go beyond default settings to tailor timesheets to your workflows. Custom fields, conditional routing, and automated notifications are very helpful.
  • Design custom reports that provide the insights you need to analyze costs, productivity, compliance, etc.
  • Real-time dashboards give you instant visibility rather than waiting for reports. Monitor billable time, costs and productivity in real time.
  • Automated reminders, escalations and approvals streamline administrative tasks and improve compliance.
  • Integrations with complementary tools maximize capabilities while eliminating redundant data entry.
  • Don’t compromise security. Audit access controls and encryption to protect sensitive timesheet data, especially on free platforms.

With the right customization, a free online timesheet app can become an invaluable tool for your business needs, helping you minimize labor costs while maximizing productivity.


In today’s highly competitive business landscape, optimized processes and lean operations separate the winners from the rest. A customized free online timesheet app allows you to maximize productivity and cost efficiency across your workforce.

The steps outlined in this guide equip you to customize your free timesheet app to become an indispensable asset for your business.By taking advantage of the flexibility offered by top platforms today, you can optimize time tracking, reporting and integrations to new heights. Now is the time to reimagine how a tuned timesheet solution can drive competitive advantage for your organization today, tomorrow, and well into the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I use mobile timesheets?

Yes, most free online timesheet apps come with mobile apps allowing employees to log time on the go. Features like GPS tracking, geofencing, and photo capture can be helpful for field teams.

  1. Can I monitor employees with the app?

While technically possible, ethical considerations apply. Clear communication and policy alignment are essential before any monitoring or location tracking features.

  1. Can it fully replace paper timesheets?

In many cases, yes – when customized to your needs. Approval workflows and integrations result in higher accuracy than manual methods. However, you may still need paper backups.