Timesheet Xpress for free

Acksen Ltd are offering their time-sheet tracking sofware package for free to charities, so I decided to have a look and see if it was any good.   Note that neither, ICTpoint nor The Wheel have any affiliation with the vendors of this product.  You can download Timesheet Xpress here .

Review of Timesheet Xpress

When I approached this review, I kept thinking, "how does this apply to the average charity?  Surely it's for architects and accountants, not people working in non-profits...?".  My first impression was of a busy screen and an unintuitive interface and I spent a lot of time clicking about to no effect.

With the benefit of the videos, I could now see that the power of this software is in management.

The user manual is not obvious, but there are videos available through the tutorial, which are nice and clear, and you'd be well advised to spend the time watching them!  It would be easy to become frustrated without the help of the video tutorials, so it is surprising that they are effectively hidden away.  There is no obvious support/instruction in use information on the website, which struck me as odd, apart from the forum.  As a new user, I did not want to dive straight into the mire of a forum.  However, with a little delving I eventually found that the video tour is actually a library of tutorials on how Timesheet Xpress works.

 

With the benefit of the videos, I could now see that the power of this software is in management.  The manager can see who is working on what, and organise the whole staff team.  It seems to take a fair bit of setting up of clients, tasks and projects at the beginning, but once set up, the staff simply need to allocate the time they spend on client's projects.

A client could be another department, a colleague or another organisation or person.  The difficulty is in setting up these clients, projects and tasks and configuring them properly.  The more information the manager puts in at this stage, the richer the reporting available and the more control they will then have.

As regards staff use of the program, it is very simple to use.  Select the time segments, then the client, project and task, which are displayed in a familiar looking tree structure.

Other benefits of the program to a manager include rich reporting on your staff.  A manager can set rules which represent company policy, e.g. working hours, leave times, overtime and start and end times and which people are spending how much time on which projects.   A neat filter mechanism will allow you to quickly see which staff members are adhering to the rules.

There are lots of billing related features, whereby staff can charge clients by the hour.  This may not seem particularly useful to the average charity.  However, the following may well be useful:

  • You can track how much time is being spent on particular projects by particular staff members.
  • If you have restricted project funding, you can charge staff time to that project and budget accordingly.

Timesheet express can also allow the manager and staff member to track flexitime and overtime, simplifying both of these potentially difficult tasks.

Opinion

This is not the easiest piece of kit to get to grips with.  However, initial delving and the watching of the videos suggests that in the hands of the right manager, this could prove to be a powerful tool for any charity.  Possibly the biggest barrier to adoption, however, is not the learning curve.  Even though that could be off-putting for some, the real challenge is in getting organisation wide buy-in.  Even if a manager has gone to great lengths to set it up just so, if the staff do not fill it in appropriately, all is lost.  Such is the case with many great business software tools.

Pros

  • Powerful for a manager with rich reporting
  • Helpful for project mangement, budgeting, HR
  • Easy for staff to use once set up

 

Cons

  • Takes some setting up
  • A bit of a learning curve, commesurate with the feature set

 

General Observations