Time Tracking and Billable Hours: Optimizing with NetSuite


Many businesses rely on accurate time tracking and billing to ensure that their projects are profitable. Without being able to track your work, you can’t keep a close eye on a project’s budget, scope, and schedule, and this can cost you time and money.

Thankfully, NetSuite offers the perfect solution for efficiently tracking time and billable hours spent on projects. The software does more than just eliminate the need for tedious manual tracking. It allows you to accurately monitor project costs and hours, to ensure precise invoicing and profitability. And it gives your teams the chance to increase their productivity and allocate resources efficiently. That way, you have all the data you need for future project planning, and optimizing your business operations. 


The Challenge of Time Tracking and Billing

As anyone working with time tracking and billable hours will know, there are many challenges associated with billing clients correctly. Whether due to manual entries or software that makes promises, it doesn’t deliver, the bottom line is the same: it causes frustration, and costs you, literally.

The most common issue is inaccurate time entries. These can result in errors in your invoicing, and disrupt project management. Moreover, if you need to manually add up the hours, it can delay your payroll processes. And then there are duplicate entries, which are as inefficient as they are confusing. Or perhaps you have a convoluted approval process, which delays processing and invoicing. 

Other factors to consider are employees committing time fraud by altering their entries, or clocking in on behalf of an absent colleague. Over time, these practices can cost your company excessive amounts of money, while seriously decreasing efficiency and productivity. 

Of course, if you have teams working on multiple projects at different times, this can further complicate time tracking. Not only do hours need to be tracked accurately, but if you have different rates for various projects, keeping on top of everything for invoicing purposes can be a nightmare, especially if overtime is involved

The impact of inaccuracies

Inaccurate time tracking doesn’t just cause hassles trying to identify and rectify the problem. It can be detrimental to your bottom line. And this can affect your revenue, along with your client relationships. 

As mentioned above, issues with time tracking can affect payroll calculations and payments. But that also means they may complicate your business’ legal and regulatory compliance with regard to working hours and employment conditions. 


It can also create difficulties in holding employees accountable for their work and accurately reviewing their performance. Moreover, with inaccurate project costing and billing, you can over- or under-charge your clients, leading to more problems down the line. This can also impact future business forecasts

Thankfully, NetSuite has a way to prevent these kinds of problems. 


Understanding NetSuite’s Time Tracking Capabilities

With NetSuite’s time tracking capabilities, your finance team will be able to spot and address any underestimations in the time they need for certain tasks, for more accurate project planning and improved profitability.

The software features fully integrated time tracking features. Also, your timesheets can be customized to meet your business requirements, including bulk submissions, and tracking multiple projects on the same sheet. 

You can also speed up the approval process by defining approval levels, and still have the option to edit approved or rejected timesheets, if necessary. And because NetSuite is cloud-based, you can submit timesheets from anywhere or any linked device, to allow your employees to accurately track their time even when they’re out of the office on different projects. 

How to set your time tracking preferences 

To make use of the feature, you’ll first need to enable it. To do so, select ‘Enable Features’ under any company name, and check the box for ‘Time Tracking’. 

Then, in the system’s ‘Setup’ menu, simply navigate to the Company section, select ‘Time & Expense’, and then ‘Time Tracking Preferences’.

Here, you’ll be able to set established billable hours, specify when time tracking occurs (including weekends) and set up rules for handling timesheets, or for time rounding. This can help ensure greater accuracy with time tracking, and prevent employees from accidentally abusing the system. If necessary, you can also set system reminders for employees to log their time.

Even better, you can also set up different time-tracking categories, to separate projects that are billable or not. 


Accurate Recording of Billable Hours with NetSuite

Marking billable time is a crucial part of efficient project management, as well as invoicing clients. NetSuite enables accurate and efficient recording of billable hours through the billable time tracking category. Further, billing classes set time rates for service items based on your employees, so can be completely customized depending on the project and service, and the member of staff who completes it.

You can also set up a billing schedule to identify recurring billing and ensure invoices are sent on time. 

The system offers upfront, monthly, quarterly, and twice-annual schedules. But if you need a different frequency, you can create a new billing schedule for any period that recurs as many times as you like. This can apply to an entire sales order, or only to individual line items, for accuracy. 

And of course, it’s possible to generate reports for a holistic view of your billing. To do so, simply go to the ‘Reports’ menu, then to ‘Forecast’, and ‘Forecast by Status Summary’. Select the option to customize your report, and enter the information you need, such as document number, customer name, or bill amount. 

This feature allows you to analyze employee efficiency and project profitability. That way, you can make data-driven decisions to optimize your operations.


Integrating with Project Management

For additional accuracy, you can integrate the NetSuite Project Management Module. The module enables efficient project management (including comparing to your budget or other metrics), along with time and expense tracking, and invoice creation.


Importantly, this integration allows for real-time collaboration and data visualization. This can help you keep track of KPIs, customer data, and reporting for reliable project management and budgeting. 


Streamlining the Invoicing Process

It’s easy to generate invoices from your billable time entries in NetSuite. You just need to start by creating a time-based invoice, as we’ve outlined above. Then, you can send it on to the client through the ‘Invoices’ tab in the system menu. 

Alternatively, you can choose to bill certain costs to a customer. This can be accessed by enabling the ‘Bill Costs to Customers’ option under Time Tracking Features. Then, select a project item to add to a client invoice from your employee timesheets. This will automatically make the time billable on your invoice. 

For added convenience, NetSuite allows you to automate invoice generation, using a range of customizable templates to make sure your bills include everything you need them to, accurately and efficiently. 


Benefits Beyond Billing – Time Tracking for Business Insights

Effective time tracking can help your finance team access broader business insights. Not only will it allow your team to improve their project management and resource allocation, but it can also increase employee productivity and morale. 

Tracking billable hours can help your team with the following:

  • Increased focus. By working on specific projects and activities, you can eliminate the need for excessive multitasking, which decreases productivity. 
  • Accountability. As mentioned above, with an overview of who has done what on a project, you’ll be able to more accurately set and achieve project goals.
  • Improved prioritization. Knowing which projects generate more income or take longer can help you set timelines to focus on priority tasks. 
  • Data-driven decision making. Time tracking reports can pinpoint where you’re making and losing money, to allow for proactive and strategic decision making.


Making the Most of NetSuite’s Time Tracking 

To ensure that you get the most out of your software’s features, or that it’s effectively integrated with the rest of your software ecosystem, consider consulting a professional. Dedicated NetSuite partners like Fusion CPA can help you implement, integrate and use your system to maximize its capabilities. 

This includes support when you need it, training your staff on how to use NetSuite features, or helping you use NetSuite data and reports for actionable business insights. We’re also available to help establish internal controls to make sure your chosen features work as they should, every time. 

And if you need additional help, our certified CPAs can assist with your day-to-day accounting and management of billable hours to ensure that your cash flow stays positive, and your clients pay on time. 

For assistance with NetSuite systems or managing your billable hours, schedule a Discovery Call with one of our CPAs. 

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