The Matrix Approval Process for Labor Actuals™

Timesheets all seem to look the same when you just take a glance but where many timesheets differ is in how they handle the timesheet approval process. One of the most challenging situations is to have two or more competing interests in approving the same data: An organizational approval that must take into account requirements for payroll, attendance, human resources or others and a project management approval.

A timesheet that must support a Matrix Organization must have an approval process designed with both axes of the matrix in mind. Matrix Organizations have different competing interests by design. The organizational axis includes the department hierarchy ending up at the individual employee. This represents who does the work.

The project axis includes all possible work including projects, non-project activities and anythign else that employees do with their time. This represents what employees can work on. When we create an approval process there are two sides to what kinds of perspective might be looking for the approvals:

    • Organizational Axis

    • Ensuring there is a complete timesheet

    • Time and Attendance

    • Human Resources tracking

    • Vacation, Sick Leave and Personal time tracking

    • Payroll rules

    • Wage vs. Salary approvals

    • Overtime approval

    • Ensuring auditable records

    • Project Axis

    • Project rate codes

    • Billable vs. non-billable time

    • Adjustments of mis-allocated hours

    • Compare Actual hours vs. Budget hours

    • Approval of Task progress

When an organization needs to support both sides of the matrix with a single timesheet, the most likely scenario is to choose multiple timesheets. It may come as a surprise, but many otherwise well structured organizations impose more than one timesheet on its employees. One timesheet is used to handle entitlements like vacation time or sick leave. Another timesheet is used to handle payroll. These timesheets are incompatible with the needs of the project management department so they choose another timesheet completely to use for updating their corporate project or portfolio management system. No employee wakes up in the morning eager to do their timesheet but some must do not one but multiple timesheets in order to complete their week.

Aside from the obvious cost to the organization of having multiple systems for a similar function, there is also potentially a huge cost or risk for organizations whose timesheet data must be audited. Organizations who must comply with Research and Development Tax Credits, Sarbanes-Oxley, DCAA / Homeland Security requirements, European Work rules or more are expected to have auditable timesheet records. But what happens when timesheet #1 doesn't balance against timesheet #2? The audit carries a risk of adjustment or even failure.

HMS Software confronted this challenge with our very first mandate in 1983. We were asked to create a timesheet for use in a large multi-national organization. The timesheet would be "owned" by the Chief Financial Officer who would use it for the company's payroll. However, it would be "operated" by the Project Management Office. Resolving the resulting conflicted requirements became the kernel of the product that would be eventually released as TimeControl. The "Matrix Approval Process for Labor Actuals™" is a trademarked term by HMS Software (Heuristic Management Software Inc.)

For those who must institute a solution to timesheeting in a matrix environment, we invite you to look at some of the collateral below. A webcast and associated PowerPoint presentation and a corresponding white paper will give you some insight into how a single timesheet can be many things to many different people within an organization.

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    TimeControl's Matrix Approval Process for Labor Actuals

    The Matrix Approval Process for Labor Actuals™ is one of the key design elements of TimeControl. This process allows both project management and finance personnel perform their required approvals within the same process. The Matrix Approval Process is what enables TimeControl to replace multiple single-purpose timesheet systems and why it is popular with both the users of project management tools and those who are not using project management tools at all.

    Watch Webcast
  • The Timesheet Matrix Approval Process
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    This slideshow demonstrates how a matrix approval process such as is included with the TimeControl timesheet system can allow both project management and finance to approve the same timesheet hours and costs but from very different perspectives.

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  • The Timesheet Approvals Challenge
    The Timesheet Approvals Challenge

    Selecting a timesheet can be daunting as there are many different types of timesheets to choose from. Do you need a time and attendance system? Time and Billing? What about Project Tracking? When you are looking for one timesheet to fulfill multiple purposes, choosing a timesheet is even more difficult. HMS has dealt with thousands of companies who have looked for a single timesheet for multiple purposes and the timesheet selection inevitably focuses on how to do approvals for different purposes. Overcoming the Timesheet Approvals Challenge shows how to use TimeControl's Matrix Approval Process™ to enable a single timesheet entry to serve multiple purposes.

    Open Whitepaper
  • Creating your Approvals Process in TimeControl
    Creating your Approvals Process in TimeControl

    Over and over we've seen the biggest challenge in deploying a timesheet system to be in the implementation of the approvals process. Creating a flexible and powerful approvals process would be a significant accomplishment with any timesheet system and when you are trying to overcome the approvals requirements of multiple aspects of the organization at the same time, it can be insurmountable. This is why we have created so much functionality in TimeControl to create your own approvals process. This white paper outlines the building blocks you can use to create approvals for the Project Management, Billing, HR, Payroll and Job Costing departments all within the same system and used at the same time.

    Open Whitepaper