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Curt Finch, Journyx

How Can Dynamics Users Get Smarter with Time Tracking?


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When you think of the future of work, what do you think of?

  • Artificial intelligence that automates the completion of certain tasks?
  • Software applications that connect with each other to share key data?
  • The impact of cloud and mobile technology on where and how work is done?

All of these factors are shaping the future of work – both technologically and economically. How employees complete their work and get the information they need to do so has evolved so dramatically – even over the last ten years – that the tools and technology they use for their daily work are practically taken for granted.

Consider your timesheet, something that is such a mundane part of our work day and a generally unappealing task to complete. While tracking time on work is, in fact, essential for driving payroll, billing, and project management/accounting processes, employees look on it with disdain for one simple reason: it takes too much time.

'Smart' Timesheets and the Future of Work

So, how is the downtrodden timesheet in a unique position to not only change employees' views of tracking time, but reshape the way they work across teams, applications, and projects? A report from Journyx, How Smart Timesheets are Shaping the Future of Work, explores this topic in-depth, answering this question with data culled from a survey conducted in partnership with MSDynamicsWorld.com.

The survey focused on how people track their time and how the process of filling out their timesheets could be easier. The responses underscore the growing need for more intelligent time tracking applications that make the oft-maligned task of filling out a timesheet easier than ever before.

What are 'smart' timesheets, anyway?

"Smart" software applications are usually built on a foundation of artificial intelligence (AI) and/or machine learning algorithms, learning from the data inputs to make the user experience easier and more efficient.

An increasing number of time tracking applications are using this technology to develop smart time tracking features that use relevant data to move processes forward without human intervention. For example, data from other relevant software applications (such as Outlook or Project) could be synced into a timesheet and automatically categorized in the proper projects and task sets – making the process of filling out the timesheet exponentially easier for the end user.

Smart Timesheets in the Dynamics Landscape

Survey participants were asked about the different software applications they use for different types of work, such as accounting, sales and marketing, development, project management, and productivity (i.e. email, collaboration, and communication). It's not surprising that an overwhelming majority of respondents are using Microsoft applications for their daily jobs:

  • 73 percent indicated they use some form of Dynamics ERP software
  • 85 percent reported they use some sort of Microsoft and/or Office 365 application for productivity
  • 46 percent said they use Microsoft Project
  • 43 percent use Dynamics CRM for customer service, while 42 percent use it for sales and marketing

Smart timesheets would allow users of Microsoft applications, like those listed above, to automatically sync data from those applications to their timesheets, such as:

  • Outlook Calendar and Task entries
  • Projects they're working on in Microsoft Project
  • Time spent in certain Office 365 apps
  • Customer support tickets or client management in Dynamics CRM

Are Dynamics Users Willing to Adopt Smart Timesheets?

As mentioned before, smart applications are typically built on a foundation of AI and/or machine-learning algorithms - with an emphasis on "learning." This means that users of a smart time tracking solution will need to spend some time "training" their timesheet – in other words, changing any pre-filled data fields so the sheet can learn to make corrections and better suggestions for entries. When asked how willing they would be to do this, most responses were favorable:

  • 76 percent would be very or somewhat willing to do this if it meant their timesheet would be easier to fill out.
  • 74 percent would be very or somewhat willing to do this if it meant their timesheet would be more accurate.
  • 73 percent would be very or somewhat willing to do this if it meant their timesheet would be faster to complete in the future.

It's Time to Get Smart About Timesheets

Survey responses indicate that Dynamics users have a need and willingness to adopt a smart time tracking application. Millions of dollars are lost annually on inefficient time tracking processes, which is especially difficult to take in project-based environments where time is billed to clients. Smarter time tracking applications can not only make the task of filling out timesheets easier and faster, but also enable the tracking of time on things that may not have been tracked before, such as email communication. These sorts of tasks can now be billed because they're tracked automatically and accurately to a particular project (instead of overhead).

For a snapshot of some of the key findings of the report, view the infographic Is the Workplace Ready for Smart Timesheets? The full report, How Smart Timesheets are Shaping the Future of Work, is available for download here.

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