What Is a Time Tracking Report?

Time-tracking reports are an essential tool for analyzing and quantifying the accumulated data. Without them, it would be impossible to make improvements, increase efficiency, or even bill clients correctly.

The good news is that time-tracking reports don’t have to be complicated. Here’s everything you need to know about creating them.

What Is a Time Tracking Report?
In this guide, you’ll learn:
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Time Report: What Is It?

In the simplest of terms, a time-tracking report is a detailed itemization of all time-related activities within a company. It’s a document that holds all the relevant information about how work hours are spent, but it’s also so much more than that.

A time report is the most critical link between the time-tracking data and stakeholders who need to be informed about it or persuaded to take specific action based on the data – such as paying employees or estimating budgets. Depending on who the stakeholders are, your time report will take on a different shape (i.e., it will have different types of information and serve a different purpose). 

A time report can be created using a variety of different tools, however, some have significant drawbacks that must be considered before using them.

What Should a Time Tracking Report Include?

The exact data included in your time-tracking report will vary depending on the reason why it needs to be generated. 

However, Here are some key datasets that will ensure the report provides actionable and comprehensive insights:

  • Time entries: The core of any time-tracking report. The report should show the date and duration of each time entry. For example, the hours logged per team member or time entries per task, project, or activity.
  • Project and/or task details: This should incorporate important information regarding projects that time has been logged against. For example, project or client name, description, and task status (in progress, completed, etc.).
  • Teams and team members: To analyze productivity and workload management, a time report should display a breakdown of time logged per team member and/or by the team as a whole
  • Billing information: If billable hours are involved, the billable rates for each team member or project must be included for accurate invoicing
  • Budget breakdowns: If a project has been assigned a budget, displaying this information is essential for profitability analysis, resource planning, and client billing.
  • Productivity metrics: Datasets such as time logged vs available work hours provide valuable insight into an organization's productivity and efficiency rates.
  • Estimates vs actuals: Reporting on the estimated time for projects vs the actual time spent is key for future planning and efficiency improvements.

And what about the functionality of the report? It’s no good having the data there if it can’t be used effectively. Some key features a time-tracking report should have are:

  • Customization options: Different clients and stakeholders will have a preference over how they want the data displayed. Having the ability to customize the report according to specific parameters will show what’s relevant to the viewer
  • Filtering capabilities: Filtering is essential for viewing data within a specific range. For example, looking at the time logged for a particular month, client, or project gives deeper insights. 
  • Visual data representations: Data must be interpretable, no matter how complex it is. Pulling raw data into charts, graphs, and other visual formats is easier on the eyes and makes it easier to analyze. 
  • Exporting and sharing: It is more common to send reports in a digital format, so having a variety of exporting options such as PDF or XLS is crucial.
detailed report

Time Tracking Apps: The Easiest (and Fastest) Way to Generate Reports

We’ll cut right to the chase, here. Generating time-tracking reports needn’t be challenging if you use a dedicated app for the purpose.

Time-tracking apps like MyHours collect and store all your inputted data and enable you to create a customized report with one or two mouse clicks.

The advantage here is that you don’t need to spend hours completing and manually editing spreadsheets, especially if spreadsheet formulas are not in your skill set. In contrast, time-tracking software is easy to use and does all the calculations for you. 

Time-tracking apps usually give you a choice of reports, including:

  • Dashboard overviews: General overviews
  • Detailed reports: Select precisely the data you want
  • Team pivots: Demonstrate how time and resources were allocated
  • Economies: Breakdowns of profits and losses 
  • Timesheets: How, where, and when time was spent

You will also get a choice of how you want the data displayed. Time-tracking software cleverly arranges all the information into easy-to-read formats such as charts and graphs (they look nice, too!), or all the raw data can simply be pulled into an Excel spreadsheet, ready to send to whoever needs it.

dashboard overview report

How Are Time Tracking Reports Utilized?

1. Proof of Work

At its core, a time report is simply a way to prove that work has been completed and that the allocated resources have been used appropriately. 

Consultants, contractors, freelancers, agencies, and professional service providers – or really, anyone who bills by the hour – can use time reports as a way to justify their invoices.

This not only provides documentation and proof of the hours worked on a client's project, but it also maintains transparency and builds trust and accountability in client relationships.

2. Legal Compliance 

All organizations face legal obligations and time-tracking reports serve to fulfill them. Some common instances of where they are required for compliance include:

  • Many labor laws stipulate that time-tracking reporting is a legal requirement to ensure employees and contractors are properly compensated.
  • Non-profits face strict legal compliance and grant terms and must show reports to prove where and how grant funds are spent
  • Time reports are also increasingly essential for ensuring tax compliance. This includes payroll tax compliance and cross-border tax compliance for multinational organizations.
  • Should an organization be subjected to an audit, time reports will be required as part of the process

3. Accurate Payroll and Billing

Time tracking reports provide payroll with a detailed overview of all employees' regular work hours, overtime, and absences. This enables payroll to compensate workers accurately – and fairly – which lessens the likelihood of errors being made or disputes being raised.

The data also gives payroll the right information to bill clients accordingly. By presenting the invoice along with the time report, it shows clients where their money is being spent and ensures transparency is maintained.

4. Performance and Productivity Evaluation

Timesheet reports provide valuable metrics to evaluate the performance of an organization. The data can be broken down to show the productivity of each employee or by department, as well as give a detailed overview of the organization as a whole.

This information allows managers and stakeholders to better evaluate whether or not teams and team members are meeting their performance goals and identify where improvements can be made. 

The timesheet reports also offer clear insight into where time is being wasted. Managers can then eliminate these activities and make informed decisions on how to optimize workflows.

5. Cost Estimation and Effective Budgeting

Historical time-tracking data from previous projects contains a treasure trove of information where effective budgeting is concerned. 

The data reports can be used to provide accurate project budget estimates which, in turn, helps organizations allocate the appropriate number of resources to each task. Moreover, when a project budget estimate is on point, realistic pricing can be quoted to clients. 

6. Resource Allocation

Historical time reports are also essential when determining the number of resources to dedicate to each project. As you read above, this is intertwined with budget planning but can also be applied across all areas of an organization, including internal processes and tasks.

The reports will show where too many or too few resources were assigned to an area of business allowing organizations to make better decisions on future resource allocations.

Utilizing time reports also helps avoid what’s known as the “planning fallacy”  where the number of resources is underestimated and the financial benefit is overestimated.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the time-tracking process?

The time-tracking process is the entire procedure a company undertakes to accurately track and document all employees’ work hours. The main goal of the time-tracking process is to help businesses evaluate how and with what degree of efficacy employees spend their time at work. 

What are time-tracking tools?

Time-tracking tools are all types of solutions used to help individuals or companies keep track of work hours spent on various tasks, projects, or other work-related activities. Apart from tracking time, a lot of tools of this type come with advanced features that enable users to create time reports, perform various types of business analyses, track and estimate costs, generate invoices, and manage payroll.