5 Reasons ABA Therapy Clinics Should Avoid Manual Timesheets

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Dealing with manual timesheets can be a time-consuming process. First, your clinic’s administrative staff has to collect paper timesheets from mailboxes and fax machines. Then, they must carefully calculate hours for each employee. How much is this process currently costing your ABA therapy clinic?

If we consider, for example, a clinic that pays 10 administrators at a rate of $25 per hour, it’s easy to estimate that paper timesheets can cost your clinic over a thousand dollars per pay period:

Cost Type Time Spent/File Number of Files/Staff Number of Admin. Staff Hourly Rate (Admin.) Lost Profit
Printing and Filing 15 minutes 25 10 $25 $1,562.50


Even if you move past a completely manual process with Excel or Google Calendars, these applications are inefficient for entire clinics as they are designed for individual staff members. Plus, there will always be a manual component since these workarounds don’t allow clinical staff members to sign off on timesheets electronically, meaning your administrative staff is stuck printing and filing signed paper timesheets.

Unfortunately, these aren’t the only ways manual timesheets can cost your ABA therapy clinic. Here are five more:

Inaccuracy and Unreliability

A manual timesheet system requires that employees report hours worked after the work day has ended. Unfortunately, this increases the likelihood of inaccurate time tracking. Studies conducted by the American Payroll Association have shown that there is typically a 1-8% margin of error when employees record their work time manually.

Manual processes can lead to a number of additional inaccuracies. For example, illegible handwriting on timesheets makes it difficult to determine the number of hours actually worked to run payroll. This results in inaccurate times and wages being recorded and processed, and it requires payroll corrections after a pay period has ended. Also, a manual process that relies heavily on the honor system can be easily abused, and inaccurate hours documented by employees can result in time theft.

Paper Handling Costs

With manual processes, timesheets are typically completed on paper and then copied. The clinic’s administrative staff usually retains one copy and another is given to a supervisor or the accounting department. The cost of the actual paper is minimal; however, compared to the costs of paying an administrative employee to handle it.

One of the largest expenses associated with a paper-based system is simply transferring the paper timesheet from one person to another. For example, first, the timesheet must be printed out and collected from the printer or the pre-printed forms must be collected from another location. Once completed, they are usually walked over to the manager or supervisor for approval. They are then faxed or walked to the accounting department for processing.

It is not uncommon for clinics with a manual timesheet and payroll process to spend upward of five hours or more running payroll at the end of each pay period. Even if payroll is the responsibility of one staff member, five hours per pay period is spent on payroll rather than something else.

By adding this information to the table above, you can see how the cyclical process of submitting timesheets to payroll adds more wasteful expenses to your clinic each pay period:

Cost Type Time Spent/File Number of Files/Staff Number of Admin. Staff Hourly Rate (Admin.) Lost Profit
Printing and Filing 15 minutes 25 10 $25 $1,562.50


Paper Handling 5 hours 25 10 $25 $1,250

Duplicate Data Entry

With a paper-based or spreadsheet-based system, data usually has to be re-keyed into billing, project management or payroll systems. Sometimes it must be keyed into all three, and this is always a very time-consuming task for ABA therapy clinics. A similar issue results from the lack of integration that exists across applications like Excel and Google Calendar.

Error Costs

Duplicate data entry inevitably leads to errors. Depending on the nature of the error, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to several days to find and correct. Billing or payroll errors in the clinical staff’s or patient’s favor may never be detected, while those made in the clinic’s favor can damage relationships.

Electronic Notification Costs

There will always be some staff members who fail to submit or approve their timesheets on time. This can delay both the billing and the payroll systems. The first step is to determine who has failed to fill in their timesheets and then notify them to get the revised timesheets submitted — this can often take several reminders. If the staff member or supervisor is unavailable to complete or approve timesheets, alternatives must be found, which can add even more time.

The best way to avoid these costs is by going beyond manual to a complete autism clinic management solution. One that allows timesheets be input electronically and then processed through a payroll model. The goal is to eliminate many of the steps involved with printing, verifying, and duplicating timesheet records.

Stay tuned next week, as we’ll go into the benefits associated with switching to an automated solution.