Everything You Need to Consider When Choosing a Time-Tracking Software

Table of Contents

  1. Types of Time-Tracking Software
    1. Standalone Time Tracking
    2. Part of a Project Management Software
    3. Integrated with Accounting System
    4. Automatic Time Tracking
    5. Real-time Monitoring
    6. Clock In And Out
    7. Location-based
    8. Enterprise
  2. Stages of Selecting Your Time Tracking Software
    1. Research Stage
    2. Review Stage
    3. Test Stage
  3. How to Choose the Right Time-Tracking Software
    1. Remote Workers
    2. Freelance Contractors
    3. Small-Sized Businesses
    4. Medium-Sized Businesses
    5. Large Enterprises
    6. Industries
  4. Differences Between Time-Tracking Software
    1. Operating System
    2. Integrations and Scalability
    3. Data Storage 
    4. Security
    5. Customer Support
    6. Licensing
  5. What To Consider When Choosing Time-Tracking Software
    1. Types of Workers
    2. Features
    3. Location Tracking
    4. How Tech-Savvy Your Team Is
    5. Company Size
    6. Your Budget
    7. Government Rules/Regulations

Every business needs to have accurate time tracking for multiple reasons. Ultimately, time tracking saves time and money, but there are additional benefits to having time-tracking software. However, it’s challenging to choose the right time-tracking software when there are so many to choose from.

Here are the things you should consider, different types of time-tracking software, how to choose the right time-tracking solution for your business, and some differences between software.

Types of Time-Tracking Software

Time-tracking software comes in different forms with different functions.

Standalone Time Tracking

This type of time clock software is created for simply tracking time. It allows employees to clock in and out and log the time they spend on particular tasks or jobs. Often, you can also enter time manually and create reports from the timesheet data collected.

With standalone time tracking, you can:

  • Clock in and out
  • Track how much time you spend on each project, task, client, etc.
  • Manually enter time and/or edit your timesheet
  • Generate reports to send your clients

Part of a Project Management Software

When you have projects that need to be managed, project management software is ideal and there are many that come with automated time tracking. This type of software gives you a real-time view at where your project stands and how your resources are, as well as employee time tracking.

Project Management software includes the ability to:

  • Monitor projects from start to finish
  • Share data, files, images, and project information
  • Track time spent on each task
  • Run reports
  • Send quotes/estimates
  • Billing/invoicing
  • Integrate with accounting software to run payroll
  • Manage clients and customer information (CRM)

Integrated with Accounting System

Many billing/invoice software will have time tracking capabilities that allow you to quickly import timesheet data into your invoices so your customers see exact time tracked at hourly rates.

With this type of software, you can:

  • Clock in and out
  • Track amount of time spent on specific tasks
  • Create invoices based on the hours you work
  • Generate reports

Automatic Time Tracking

This is a type of time-tracking software that automatically begins tracking employees’ time and tasks as soon as they boot up their devices. Similar to those that integrate with accounting systems, these types of time tracking solutions provide the same thing but rather than clocking in and out, you’re automatically clocked in and out when your device is booted up or shut down, respectively.

Real-time Monitoring

With this type of time-tracking software, employees are monitored to ensure they’re actually working.

Real-time monitoring provides:

  • Time tracking
  • Ability to view how many hours were spent on a specific job
  • View your crew’s location in real-time

Clock In And Out

A simple timesheet app that employees can use to clock in when they arrive to work and clock out when they leave.

Location-based

Location-based time tracking uses technology like GPS or Geofencing to track where employees are throughout the workday. With location-based time tracking, you can:

  • Crew members can receive reminders to clock in and out when entering or leaving a designated area
  • Managers can receive notifications if an employee clocks in/out in the wrong area
  • Pinpoint locations where employees are as well as where they were when they clocked in/out throughout the workday.

Enterprise

This heavy-duty type of timesheet software is ideal for larger organizations with a lot of different departments and positions. It allows administrators to track large amounts of complex timesheet data and import it to process payroll quickly and easily.

Enterprise time-tracking software has all the perks of each type, and large organizations use it to track time and gain insights into their companies. With this type of software you can:

  • Clearly understand your labor costs
  • Understand which employees do what jobs the most efficiently
  • Monitor employee needs such as whether or not you need to hire new people
  • Get clear insights into each department

Stages of Selecting Your Time-Tracking Software

When it comes to choosing a time-tracking software, there are three main stages consumers go through: Research, review, test.

Research Stage

If you’re reading this, this is likely the stage you’re in. Research is a crucial part before purchasing any product. Researching time-tracking software helps you eliminate the options that won’t suit your needs and narrow your choices down to more ideal options.

Review Stage

Almost nine out of 10 consumers read reviews before purchasing a product. With software, this is even more crucial because you don’t want to purchase a software and be left hanging out to dry with poor customer service.

Read reviews of your picks so you get a better idea of things like:

  • Ease of use
  • Customer support/care
  • Functionality

Take time, too, to read the responses to any reviews from the software provider. This will give you further insights into how they treat their customers and how they handle complaints.

Test Stage

Many time-tracking software companies offer a free version or a free trial you can use for a limited time to get familiar with their solution.

Make the most of this time by planning ahead what you want to accomplish with the software and how you will use it. If possible, include one or two employees who can offer their feedback on the software, too.

If you’re not getting the functionality you were hoping for, it could be due to a lack of understanding so, before canceling, reach out to customer support to see if there’s a solution or workaround for the issue you’re experiencing before you cancel.

How to Choose the Right Time-Tracking Software

Essentially, the type of time-tracking software you choose will depend on the type of company you have, the size of your company, the types of employees you have, your budget, and your needs. From portable time clocks to mobile apps, there are a lot of things to consider and different uses for different types of companies and jobs.

Remote Workers

The COVID-19 pandemic led to many companies adopting flexible scheduling and remote work, which many still offer. Tracking time for remote employees is hard to do without a time-tracking software that gives you accurate information about their hours worked.

Your remote workers need to be able to access schedules and communicate effectively with everyone, so your time-tracking software should enable these things to make remote working more productive and collaborative.

Freelance Contractors

If you do freelance work, you likely have multiple clients. Even if you have a flat rate, having time tracking capabilities helps you stay organized as well as transparent with your clients. Job sites like Upwork use employee monitoring time tracking to provide screenshots, keystrokes, and mouse clicks so employers can see exactly what the freelancer they hire is doing throughout their time clocked in.

This kind of time-tracking software is ideal for freelancers.

Small-Sized Businesses Since small businesses have smaller budgets, a simple time-tracking solution that provides you with the tools you need to track time accurately, but also have access to data that helps you grow your business and can grow with you. Reports that give you business insights are helpful to determine which employees are the best for which tasks/jobs. Communication is also key to getting jobs done right, so it’s important for your employees to be able to share information within the software to make sure there’s no confusion around what needs to be done, by whom, and when.

Medium-Sized Businesses

Usually defined as companies with up to 999 employees, mid-size organizations need additional tools with their time-tracking software. Your company will likely have different departments, types of jobs, and customers so you’ll need a solution that helps you keep track of each of these things.

You’ll also need reporting features that are easy to complete, filter, and export to stay on top of trends within your organization or to provide to customers who request them.

Communication tools that allow you to share data, ideas, client information, job details, etc. are crucial for any organization but more challenging when you have more employees. Your time-tracking solution should enhance and improve communications in a way that’s easy for employees to use.

Large Enterprises

Large companies with more than 1,000 employees need a solution that integrates with the software they are likely already using. You’ll need an employee time clock app that works across the organization, whether you have one facility or 100.

Administrators should be able to assign permissions so each manager can monitor employee times for each department. Security is a concern for all businesses but large businesses have a lot of data and information, so it’s important that your time-tracking solution provides strong security features.

Industries

What an office enterprise needs for time-tracking software is going to be different, for example, than companies with field crews or subcontractors.

When you work in construction or a service industry, you’ll have different people in different locations, doing different jobs. It’s challenging to track time in construction, so you will need to offer a mobile time clock app for these workers to use.

Time tracking in manufacturing will probably tie into their overall plant management software, while office workers can use a simple standalone time-tracking system on their computers.

With different industries having different needs, it’s important to consider what you’re wanting to accomplish with your time tracking capabilities, how much you have a budget for, and what’s going to be the easiest way for your employees to get on board.

Differences Between Time-Tracking Software

There are a lot of differences to look for when looking for the best time-tracking software for your company and some things you may not have thought of.

Operating System

While there are many time-tracking software solutions available, not all are available for all platforms. Android and Windows are both more popular across the globe than other platforms, but iOS and OS X (Mac) follow closely behind, so you’ll want a time-tracking solution that suits the types of systems and smartphones used by those who will be using it.

For example, if you’re using Mac in the office and you have workers using a mobile app with their Android phones, they should be able to sync their data regardless.

Integrations and Scalability

Integrations are important to consider when choosing a time-tracking software. The global workforce is becoming increasingly technological so you want to choose a software that integrates with the software you’re already using. Common types of integrations for time-tracking software include:

  • Customer Resource Management CRM modules
  • Project Management software
  • Accounting software
  • Payroll software
  • Job Costing software

As your company grows, you want a time-tracking software that grows with it. Research the solutions you’re considering to see how often they provide upgrades and updates. Scroll through customer reviews to find out about new features and how well (or not) they are received by existing customers.

Data Storage

Most data storage is now on the cloud, which is safer for your sensitive data. If you have to store data on your local computer or smart device, you might quickly run out of space. However, with cloud computing and cloud storage, your data is stored on an internet server, safe from being hacked or stolen but accessible any time.

Security

When the data is sent to the cloud, it is encrypted, protecting your privacy and that of your employees. Using an Application Programming Interface (API) prevents data from being intercepted or stolen.

Customer Support

When it comes to adopting new technology, customer support is crucial. Of course, you’ll be wooed by great sales pitches, but what happens after you sign up?

Adopting a new technology should be smooth and all of your questions should be answered fully and honestly. Take time to go through customer reviews and success stories to find out if the company you’re considering provides the kind of customer support you and your employees will need.

Licensing

Software comes with different types of licensing, so familiarize yourself with the kind of licensing the time-tracking software has. While there are free versions of time-tracking apps available, most don’t come with any additional features that paid time tracking offers.

The majority of time-tracking software comes with a subscription-based pricing package. Once your subscription expires, your access to the software does, too, unless you renew it, or it automatically renews.

Other software licensing includes license-based, where you buy a copy of the software and can use that copy of the software, or proprietary, where after purchase, you can only install the time-tracking software on the number of devices specified.

What To Consider When Choosing Time-Tracking Software

Each business is unique, so it’s important to consider as many aspects of your time tracking needs as possible, before deciding on which one to go with.

1. Types of Workers

Different workers will use time tracking in different ways, from different places. For example, if you have crews working at an outside jobsite, they would benefit from a mobile-time tracking app more than an office worker or administrator, who works from the office that may prefer a web time clock.

For crews that travel a lot, a mobile solution is ideal to help you track more than just the hours worked, but travel times, too, and for workers who frequently forget to clock in or out, Geofencing helps by sending them reminders when they enter or leave a designated work area.

2. Features

Time-tracking software ranges from a simple time-tracking tool on a website or mobile device, to complex project management software solutions that include time tracking availability.

The features you need will depend on the kind of work you do, what your goals are with time tracking, how you will use the software, your budget, and more.

Ideally, your time-tracking solution will include features that make running your business easier such as integrations with payroll, managing paid time off (PTO), scheduling, and billing. Software is frequently upgraded to the latest version to include new features, so what might start as a simple time-tracking app, may evolve into a robust business management tool.

3. Location Tracking

Do you want GPS tracking? Some companies may not need GPS tracking while others might benefit by knowing where their workers are throughout the workday (such as companies that receive emergency service calls and need to find the nearest worker to send).

4. How Tech-Savvy Your Team Is

Time-tracking software is, after all, software. Some time-tracking apps are confusing and difficult to navigate, while others are made to be as simple as possible. Take into account the varying abilities of your employees when it comes to technology and ensure whichever solution you opt for, is one all of your crews can operate correctly.

5. Company Size

Different time-tracking solutions may be ideal for small- or mid-sized companies but not robust enough for larger enterprises. Conversely, complex, complicated project management software may be too much for smaller organizations.

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6. Your Budget

Of course, budget is a key factor in choosing which time-tracking software to go with. You’ll have to determine how much time and money you’ll save by shifting to automated time tracking, to determine what your budget is when adopting one.

7. Government Rules/Regulations

If you work in a heavily regulated industry such as construction or medical care, your time-tracking software should not only help you stay compliant, but do so in an uncomplicated way. With time-tracking software, you can keep an accurate paper trail in the case of audits or for certified payroll reporting.

Choose The Best Time-Tracking Software for Your Company and Employees

Time-tracking software is available for any company to use, but they’re not all the same, even if they all track time. It would be counterproductive to adopt a technology that you or your employees can’t use efficiently or that doesn’t provide you with the right features.

Ultimately, time-tracking software does save you time and money by speeding up the payroll process and ensuring accurate time tracking information for your workers. Choose the right time-tracking solution for your company so you can evolve and grow your company.