When thinking about paper timesheets versus electronic timesheets in the temporary staffing industry, you may have a range of feelings. For some, the old method of taking pen to paper to record time has worked fine for years. Newer staffing companies, meanwhile, may have never even considered anything but the paperless option.

Many staffing companies still have employees keep their time the old-fashioned way. This happens mainly because it’s a comfortable system, and getting out of a well-established habit is never easy.

Other times, a staffing agency may want to move its employee time entry online, but the firm (or firms) with whom the staffing company engages prefers keeping paper records. This is especially common in industries where many employees might not speak English, and it’s simpler to have them record their time manually.

Contrary to what you might expect, the problem with paper timesheets isn’t an issue of accuracy or speed. It takes about the same time to write down a few numbers as it does to key them into a database, and the room for human error is essentially the same for either method.

The problem with paper-based timesheets is twofold. First, someone has to physically go through them for approval, and that involves stacks of paper then must be manually transferred between the staffing agency and various job sites. This creates all kinds of room for error and loss. Second, all the data from the timesheets now must be manually re-entered into the system that will do payroll and billing — another HUGE source of error.

Paper timesheets are an even greater hang-up when companies working with the staffing agency want employee timesheets coupled with invoices. With a paper system, someone has to take the time to find and attach each timesheet to the right invoice. If, for example, you’re placing 400 to 500 employees a week in the light industrial staffing industry, attaching timesheets to invoices is a major undertaking.

This is where managing timesheets online starts gaining the advantage. In the scenario above, a significant number of man-hours could be saved if the timesheets were kept online. With a few clicks of the mouse, every employee’s timesheet is affixed to the proper invoice.

Other benefits of online temporary staffing software include allowing workers the flexibility to enter their time from anywhere (desktop, laptop, smartphone, etc.) and providing supervisors anytime access to employee timesheets, along with a faster vehicle for submitting their approval.

Taking time entry digital may seem like an obvious move. But technology is often far ahead of people’s acceptance. If a company has been doing something the same way for 20 years, it’s probably not going to be first in line to change.

However, in terms of efficiency — especially with data entry for invoicing and payroll — there’s a clear advantage for online timekeeping. If your customers are reluctant to adopt online timesheets, it may be worth offering them a service discount for trying it, similar to how companies in the commercial sector offer customers incentives for switching to paperless billing.

Everybody, to some degree, is resistant to new technology. If the resistance is on your end, consider the advantages of paperless time entry, and then find a section of your staffing business to test it with.

It might be an uncomfortable transition, but once you see the benefits of online timesheet software and the increased efficiency it brings to your invoicing process, you won’t look back.