lame excuse for poor management!
Do they really expect people to believe that because they didn't spend money on a bespoke system that was potentially overpriced, that this excuses them from telling their staff and middle management from the ground up to ensure that they account for their time and submit a weekly report to their line managers.
My god! a bespoke spreadsheet could do this.
They could not account for which hours had been spent on which cases and which individuals.
Put this in a business context.
Company does work for client and creates a project to do this work. (a "Case" per se) this is assigned a unique ref number (Case number) management assign staff to this and estimate the amount of time it will take. This creates a rough budget that it should cost, and the staff assigned to this case report back on progress and how many hours are spent on a weekly basis.
If this is not done, then unless it's a fixed fee project, the client's project cannot be billed and you lose money.
With these simple day one principles, if you don't follow them, your company will go bust as you are not billing your client.
Whats happened here, Oh! I say. they lost more money than they gained.
Tarra then chuck, don't let the door slam you too hard on the way out.
Fantastic idea in principle (the concept of the department that is) let down by crappy management.