Maintaining timesheets is imperative from an organization’s perspective as they help track employee work hours and payroll calculations. Organizations must therefore motivate the employees to maintain daily timesheet entries. However, motivating employees isn’t the only ‘timesheet’ challenge that companies face.
Organizations, especially those engaged in employee recruitment and servicing multiple clients across different regions, often work with different timesheet formats received from their clients. And integrating these multiple formats becomes a significant challenge for servicing companies. Integrating and interpreting various timesheets is a problem organizations face in Oracle human capital management (HCM) implementation as there is no one-size-fits-all solution to cater to multiple formats and variations.
Decoding the timesheet integration problem
We encountered the timesheet problem through our conversations with our customers, who highlighted how they faced issues with timesheet integrations. During one of the workshops with a customer, their team mentioned that they maintained the timecard information manually for all their outsourced employees as it derives client-wise revenue and cost. While working with the client on Oracle HCM and financials modules implementation, our team had a detailed conversation with their CFO and customer leadership on accurate revenue and cost deriving a project’s profitability (client engagement). Any issues in timesheet integration highly impacts this profitability.
Over the course of multiple such conversations, we realized that the accuracy of revenue and cost calculations depends on how meticulously the time entries coming from various timesheet formats are integrated with the ERP system minimizing the human intervention and the chances of error.
Time and absence entries also affect payroll calculation for the outsourced employees and play a significant role in reporting and reconciliations in case of discrepancies. Our team notices that in most of the projects, different clients follow different timesheet formats. While some follow day-wise time entry and absences, others follow hourly time entry. The timesheets came in Excel, PDF, and images and had further variations within each of these formats. And the complexity of maintaining timesheet data further increases with the increase in variations within each format.
Oracle has provisioned multiple techniques to integrate and read data from external files of different formats. However, each technique has its advantages and limitations. Organizations often struggle while finalizing a timesheet solution. They must consider the required cost and maintenance of various alternatives for automating timesheets and thoroughly analyze the timesheet scenarios.
Given the significant impact of timesheet integration on client-wise project profitability and payroll calculations, our Oracle HCM team conceptualized three solutions that effectively integrate multiple timesheet formats for different clients depending on their needs. Organizations can analyze all three approaches and choose the most appropriate solution for integrating their timesheet formats.
Let’s look at the three solutions in detail:
Oracle Integration Cloud-based solution
- Brief: Each readable timesheet format (Excel, CSV, Text files) will have a single integration, which will upload the data to Oracle.
- Advantage: Complete end-to-end Oracle-based solution, so the error rate will be low. It has a single tracking and error handling platform as no third-party application is involved in this solution.
- Limitation: Single integration for a single format will require a significant effort in building and maintenance. PDF and Image formats can’t be read as it requires data in a readable format.
Robotic process automation (RPA) based solution
- Brief: This solution leverages the UI Path RPA feature to build a functionality where each format will be recognized and converted into a single unified format, which can be integrated with Oracle.
- Advantage: Easy to build a solution that can be deployed to the cloud server, and there is no need for a standalone device for RPA BOT. OCR functionality can be used to convert image format to text.
- Limitation: Each variation of PDF, image, or excel timesheets will require one RPA integration with Oracle requiring extra effort and maintenance. RPA requires license cost. For reading PDF images, additional licensing for OCR would be necessary.
Custom solution using Python
- Brief: A custom solution built using Python handles all excel timesheet variations, generates a unified oracle acceptable timesheet, and places it in a location where it can be easily integrated with Oracle through the Oracle integration cloud.
This solution is the best fit for organizations that normalize the timesheet formats across their clientele and can go ahead with only excel timesheet formats. Few standardized excel timesheet formats can be finalized based on discussion and mutual agreement with clients.
- Advantage: Single integration solution to cater to multiple excel timesheet formats. There is no licensing cost as there are no third-party applications involved.
- Limitation: This can handle the variations of excel timesheets only and will not be applicable for image formats.
Depending on the customers’ needs, the complexity of the timesheet processes, and the volume of operations involved, we can implement one of the above solutions vis-à-vis the assessment of advantages and limitations. These solutions would integrate various timesheets and offer a consolidated view that can be used for different purposes such as payroll and cost calculations and tracking employee presence or absence.
With the growing need to accelerate digital transformation through a centralized system that drives operational savings, faster revenue recognition, accurate reconciliations, and increased business agility, it is imperative for employee outsourcing organizations to automate timesheet integration. This allows them to automate the transfer of time and absence entries for all the employees and optimize the existing processes by significantly reducing human intervention and human error. It also helps in resource cost saving and increases profitability. If your organization is struggling with timesheet integration in Oracle HCM, we can help you choose the right solution as per your needs and implement it to avoid any impact on your profitability or employee work hour computations.