Punchtime turning heads with paperless approach to tracking employee working hours

Ottawa business owners whose workers still use paper timesheets to keep track of their hours might want to consider a new local startup that promises to make employee recordkeeping more convenient and effective.

Punchtime, an L-Spark incubator graduate and one of two firms deemed the “Next Big Thing” at last year’s Best Ottawa Business Awards, is a cloud-based software-as-a-service platform that allows employees to clock in and out using a smartphone.

Company managers, meanwhile, can see a list of employees working that day, with information on when and where they were working. The software stores all timesheet history, with a breakdown for each worker that includes tasks, locations, times and other notes. Human resources managers can also export that data to QuickBooks or another payroll system.

“Businesses are using more and more software to do various things like payroll and accounting. They have been for a while now, and quite frankly they’re looking to do more,” says Christian Desjardins, a 36-year-old software designer and one of Punchtime’s two co-founders.

The idea came about roughly two years ago when Yves Eggleston, owner of local property development company Blueprint Builds, approached Mr. Desjardins about finding software that could digitally track his workers’ hours.

Mr. Desjardins recommended a few existing options, but they weren’t a good fit. So he decided to develop a program of his own.

“For the first time, the majority of labourers now own a smartphone, which makes this possible,” he says. “It wasn’t the case five years ago.”

Yet 80 per cent of new clients that approach his company are still using paper timesheets, he says.

Punchtime officially launched March 29 at the Terrace Youth Wellness Centre in Kanata.

“There is no need to chase down physical timesheets or to enter data manually,” Terrace Wellness CEO Terri Storey said in a media release. “That saves us a lot of money and time.”

It was the startup’s first major client, but its product is already being used by about 300 employees at 40 to 50 companies, according to Mr. Eggleston, the firm’s other co-founder.

In addition to streamlining timekeeping, Punchtime can help businesses achieve better costing by knowing how much time and how many people a certain type of job will require, says Mr. Desjardins. The company is also working with human resources executives from “large organizations across Canada,” a couple of whom are on the startup’s advisory board, to find out how else it can develop the software to more fully meet managers’ needs.

The software costs $4 a month per employee, and the firm says installation takes only minutes.

The partially bootstrapped startup had an early funding shot from an initial seed investment round, and the company is currently working on a second seed round.

Punchtime is projecting $70,000 in monthly recurring revenue within eight to 12 months, according to Mr. Eggleston. The company’s main target clients are mobile workforces with hourly waged employees, with a special interest in local businesses in their beginning stages.

There has been some resistance from workers who want to stick to the old way of doing things, Mr. Desjardins concedes. And because Punchtime submits information about an employee only after he or she gives informed, voluntary consent, it doesn’t take the place of a project manager, he says.

“Changing company culture can be difficult, but if you have a company where the employees value the concepts of trust, transparency and true camaraderie, it shouldn’t be an issue. People were filling in their timesheets anyway – this is just a way more convenient way of doing it.”