For most companies with employees, accurate timesheet tracking is a must.

Unfortunately, though, many companies are still relying on old-fashioned paper timesheets to keep track of their employees’ time. Of course, using paper timesheets can lead to a host of mistakes and errors, not to mention that the entire process can prove to be, well, slow. Employees have to take out time to fill in their hours by hand, and then the payroll department has to decipher and transfer all of that information into the payroll program. Not surprisingly, the process is one that’s often filled with delays and errors.

Reliance on pen and paper timesheets could be costing your company more than you think. With this in mind, here’s a look at some of the biggest timesheet problems plaguing companies today, and what you can do to prevent them.

Problem #1: Illegible Timesheets

One of the most common problems with handwritten timesheets is illegible handwriting. Translating indecipherable scribbles can often lead to a delay in payroll processing, and in many cases can even result in errors. It’s easy for an illegible 7:00 to be mistaken for a 9:00, which would result in an employee being paid for two fewer hours than they actually worked. Of course, errors go both ways, and careless handwriting could also result in your company paying out for hours that weren’t worked.

Problem #2: Stolen Time

When you have no control over your employees’ timesheets, there’s always the risk of less-than-honest employees taking advantage of the system. While employee time theft may not seem a big deal, it’s estimated that the average employee steals approximately 4.5 hours per week from their employer, totaling almost six work weeks per year. Additionally, according to the American Payroll Association, employees signing in for coworkers can easily cost your company anywhere from 5 to 7 percent of your payroll costs.

Problem #3: Calculation Errors

Another common problem with using outdated timesheets is calculation errors. Even simple mistakes like reversing numbers or adding wrong can lead to incorrect paychecks. Add overtime, time off, or paid vacation to the equation, and there’s the potential for things to get even more complicated. No matter how qualified your bookkeeper or accountant, the truth is that manually entering timesheet data into a payroll program will always leave room for error.

Problem #4: Inaccurate Invoices and Estimates

Incorrect timesheet data doesn’t just affect your company; it could impact your customers as well. Accurate time tracking will allow you to ensure that your customers are being invoiced for the right amount of billable hours. Of course, this will help to improve accuracy when it comes to your future estimates as well.

Problem #5: Lost or Damaged Timesheets

Finally, paper timesheets are always at risk of being misplaced or damaged. A spilled cup of coffee can smudge the numbers and papers can easily be misplaced, lost, or shredded. When this happens, your team will be left with the unfortunate task of trying to recalculate their hours from memory, drastically increasing the chance of mistakes.

It’s important to note that even if a timesheet is damaged or missing, ultimately, it’s still the employer’s responsibility to pay employees for hours worked. This means that if your company doesn’t use time tracking software, but instead relies solely on employees tracking their hours manually, you could be putting yourself at risk; both in terms of inaccurate payments and when it comes to potential accusations of withholding pay.

Fortunately, the solution to all of these problems is relatively simple. Exchanging your paper timesheets for a robust, user-friendly time tracking software solution will enable you to ensure that your employees get paid correctly and on time. Choosing a system that integrates with your payroll program will also eliminate the need to manually enter timesheet data, helping to simplify payroll, taxes, and more. You’ll also have confidence to know that your estimates and invoices are accurate. Sidestep many of the common issues with one simple upgrade. It’s a purchase that’ll benefit your company in more ways than one.