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Time Tracking Software

Time Tracking software automates the tracking of billable hours. Time Tracking apps can be used by organisations in professional services industries to monitor project progress as well as billing rates so that the appropriate amount may be invoiced. Timesheet software is related to Professional Services Automation software, Project Management software and Workforce Management software. Find the best employee time tracking software for your organisation in Australia.

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Time Tracking Software Buyers Guide

Time tracking software consists of applications used by HR managers, payroll staff, back-office workers, and the wider workforce to keep track of employees' time commitments, work hours, and activities. It enables personnel to report for duty, log in their hours, and request time off. It also allows their managers to automate many tasks, including scheduling, reporting, invoicing, and payroll management.

Time tracking applications often come with advanced tools like calendar integration, GPS mapping, RFID badge scanning, and NFC technology for clocking in with a smartphone. But at the core of all these tools, from the most complex to the most basic are powerful scheduling and work hour tracking capabilities.

With applications in several industries, these tools are simple by design and created so that the entire workforce, from the unskilled to senior management, can operate them. They usually grant workers access to their work logs on-site and off-site, from their work computers or mobile devices. People working in healthcare, manufacturing, and logistics must all be able to access and use these applications safely and efficiently, even without any advanced computer or programming skills.

These tools allow project leads and HR staff to schedule, track, and report worker activity. They can dispatch, assign, roster, and remunerate their personnel. Finally, they can invoice their clients, streamline cash flows, and monitor the flow of information and the quality of data being fed automatically to the accounting department. But aside from communicating with accounting software, time trackers can also link to Project Management applications, customer relationship management (CRM) tools, and workflow management software.

As their mainstay is work hour management, timesheet software share much of its functionality with Clocking Systems, Time and Expense Software, and Workforce Management Software tools. But they often share some of their capabilities with applications from a wide range of categories, including Task Management Software, Project Management Software, and Professional Services Automation Software. However, some tools offer full-fledged financial management support that rivals what products from the Billing and Invoicing Software category offer. Likewise, depending on the field of activity, they can be used alongside or even replace medical and Legal Billing Software.

Time tracking software tools vary widely in complexity, look, and serviceability. While some of these tools were created for specific verticals (e.g., healthcare, manufacturing, engineering, logistics), most are ready for use in virtually any work environment because they perform all of the following basics:

  • Clock workers on-site and remotely
  • Capture employee time on and off duty
  • Enable workers to request time off and paid leave with direct input from managers
  • Keep a record of user-specific hourly rates
  • Calculate client and project-specific billing rates
  • Automate quoting, billing, and invoicing with payroll software linkage
  • Enable project leads to schedule and allocate human resources

What is Time Tracking Software?

Time tracking software tools are web-based platforms with associated mobile apps designed to track the time employees spend on their tasks and projects, whether on or off-site. They can capture and match employee activities with project and client rates, informing attendance, performance, and completion reports. As they overlap with billing and invoicing software in their ability to issue quotes, calculate dues, and link with accounting applications to facilitate transactions and balance the books, they can be used in workforce and payroll management operations.

The user base for time tracking tools is wide and eclectic, as professionals from private and public sectors in every industry utilise these applications. This includes manufacturing workers across facilities in different geographical regions, with different pay rates, wage rules, and compliance restrictions. For them, time tracking software for businesses can help track overtime and absenteeism. In the logistics sector, these tools can help optimise scheduling, flag up timekeeping abuse, and ensure delivery timeliness. In the healthcare sector, these tools can help combat time theft, reducing the risk of overpayment and boosting patient trust in the service.

However, workers in every field of activity can use these tools, developed to enable quick access and speedy processing for people of any skill set. They tend to come with web-based PC applications and mobile-ready iOS and Android apps that feature worker and manager portals with simple UI and convenient data entry options. They aim to automate work data entry and reporting, so they make ample use of tools like calendars, workflow diagrams, and analytics.

But depending on the application, they might also feature tools unique to specific industries. For instance, field workers benefit from built-in GPS mapping and geo-fencing features, which show every salesman or engineer's location in real-time, minimising the risk of double booking and logging their data automatically. Corporate users can avail themselves of in-built RFID badge scanning tools to clock in and out of work or confirm their attendance at meetings.

Likewise, with NFC technology for clocking in or accessing their office with a smartphone, workers can report their attendance while managers can more easily tackle absenteeism. In recent years, non-touch clocking solutions, including biometrics and facial recognition technology, have become popular with employers who want to provide enhanced hygienic protection to their workers.

For companies to use time timesheet software and add it to their existing software stack, they must be able to store, process, and share vast amounts of personal employee data. This can range from their worker profiles, employment contracts, and pay rates to their precise geographic location and banking details. While some can ensure that they fulfil basic safety, security, and internet connectivity requirements, others can't. Therefore, they rely on SaaS cloud service providers that can accommodate all these needs, regardless of company size, geographic location, and industry.

When they outsource the storage and transfer of time tracking data to cloud service providers, companies also benefit from a more scalable structure, with room to grow with their userbase and better access to their software from a host of devices. Alternatively, companies can opt for a hybrid infrastructure, with part of the data stored in the Cloud while more sensitive information stays on corporate servers.

What are the benefits of time tracking software?

The benefits of time tracking software for businesses are felt mainly by those managers who monitor employee activities and remunerations. HR staff, team leads, payroll managers, and back-office workers carry out many routine time-intensive tasks. These include scheduling, checking late clock-ins and no-shows, manually approving time-off requests, managing timesheets, drafting rosters for every project and client, coordinating out-of-office employees, managing shift swaps, and drafting rules to boost schedule adherence. As it can automate all these tasks, the benefits of time tracking software include:

  • Effective tracking for distributed teams: With businesses relying more and more on freelance and remote workers, they face a series of challenges in tracking worker activity and time. The sheer amount of work involved in checking virtual employee punches and adding up the work hours for every employee or contractor with a flexible schedule makes manual time tracking impossible. But using time tracking software to collate and organise all that data, with attendance, work time, and pay rates in plain sight on a single dashboard, leaders can more easily gauge performance, anticipate completion, and facilitate timely payment for every worker. The tool could collate the data, generate reports, provide forecasts, and point to trends in employee performance, arming managers with the information they need for their personnel assessments, job promotions, and contract terminations.
  • Payroll management and linkage: Payroll processes are time-consuming and manual data entries are prone to errors. Rather than collecting and inputting timesheets, pay rates, leave records, and overtime information for every worker on a monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly basis, payroll managers could entrust a time tracking tool to carry out these tasks automatically, in real-time, and with no human involvement. They can set up the software to pay rates across the workforce, client database, project list, and branch location so that there's no risk of under or overpayment. Aside from differential wages, the application may also support applying various incentives, benefits, or sanctions. As some tools feature built-in screen capture and geofencing tools, managers can rest assured that they don't bill their customers for non-work activities.
  • Cash flow streamlining: HR managers and project leads often have little experience in bookkeeping and payment processing. Yet, the speed with which they process timesheets and complete their projects directly affects how quickly the company can bill its customers. As time tracking tools handle quoting, billing, and invoicing tasks on their behalf in real-time, they expedite payment and help swell the company's coffers. With better cash inflow- companies can boost their credit ratings, finance investment projects, and speed up growth.
  • Centralised management: The larger the company, the harder it is to keep track of human resources. A time tracking tool can help manage employee records, online profiles, contractual terms, and performance logs. It can store and make this data available as a continuously updated, single source of truth across the organisation's branches and locations.

What are the features of time tracking software?

When it comes to the many features of time tracking software tools, it's not their complexity or variety that determines how good a fit they are for a business. Alternatively, it's their unique selling point. Fancy features like RFID scanning, geo-fencing, NFC clocking, and facial recognition may impress at first, however, it's often the basic ones that make all the difference to organisations that value substance over form. Companies can expect to find these basic features in their time tracking software applications:

  • Billable / non-billable hours: Track and differentiate between billable and non-billable hours for every project. Instead of estimating billable project hours based on clock-in times and risk losing face, project leads can rely on time tracking tools. They subtract non-billable hours automatically based on employee logs or screen captures, relay this information to managers, and forward it through the invoicing process.
  • Online time tracking: Capture and generate employee and task time data for access via desktop and mobile applications connected to the Internet. It would be remiss of today's employers not to provide clock-in options for workers who prefer to use mobile apps only or different online time tracking tools. As they switch from one device to another to access their existing CRM, sales, or reporting applications, they should also be able to make their device usage count for payroll purposes.
  • Offline time capture: Capturing and tracking employee hours and tasks now and in the future. Mobile workers may experience internet outages, software failures, and hardware problems but continue working. A tool that only tracks online usage may disregard these contributions. But one that monitors time and tasks for the entire workforce, with a combination of real-time and after-the-fact punches, would make a fairer assessment of activity and performance levels. Offline synchronisation would also enable project managers to view accurate billable hour reports and generate invoices correctly.
  • Employee database: Store contact details, contracts, certificates, pay rates, negotiation results, criminal records, and other personal information safely.
  • PTO, tip, and overtime calculation: Record and manage paid time off and overtime for employees. Payroll managers are tasked with calculating every employee's paid time off and overtime, allocating the appropriate remuneration at the end of each pay cycle. In large companies with many full-time, part-time, and flexible workers across regions with different pay rates, PTO agreements, and national holidays can be taxing work. Time recording software makes timekeeping easier, especially as some come with GPS location stamps, geo-fencing, production unit tracking, smart clocks, automatic tip pools, and support for on-demand pay.

Capterra's software directory features a host of tools with these features and many more. Readers are encouraged to browse the directory for featured time tracking software tools, scrolling through these examples to find that perfect application that ticks all the boxes. With several filters to narrow down the list to specific features and highlights, there's bound to be a good match for every type of business, user, and preference.

What should be considered when purchasing time tracking software?

When purchasing time tracking software, HR managers and other leaders should factor in a series of challenges. These tools help streamline back-office operations and directly affect company cash flow, but they can also affect workers' engagement with the company and their trust in the business. For instance, companies with a diverse workforce may need to prioritise multilingual tools. Here are a few questions managers could ask before deciding on a time tracking software application:

  • Is there mobile access? Mobile access is the sine qua non of remote workforces. As they need access to their dashboards and company data at various times and locations throughout the day and night, developers and employers should be able to offer a mobile-ready app as soon as they onboard an employee. This is especially important for field staff like engineers, salespeople, and home visiting opticians, who may prefer to have their GPS data logged in automatically rather than manually entering data into a terminal or a personal device while on the job.
  • Is the software legally compliant? Regardless of deployment options, all-time tracking software tools must comply with laws and regulations. Whether a company uses an on-premises, cloud-based, or hybrid structure for their time tracking operations, they are subject to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the National Minimum Wage Act of 1988, labour laws, and other rules which regulate employment and trade union rights. Time tracking tools must be able to log overtime, days off, and other payroll data in line with these requirements.
  • Is Helpdesk support included? HR managers can have hundreds or thousands of employees from various levels of hierarchy and multiple branches under their care and guidance. A good time tracking tool should accommodate a diverse workforce and complex wage differentials. Anything the software tool may lack in terms of clarity should be covered by a helpdesk available around the clock to deal with queries on behalf of employees and managers across regions and time zones.

The most relevant time tracking software trends reflect a rise in demand for this type of software. It should come as no surprise since, according to Market Research Future, the global market for time tracking software is expected to grow in value or CAGR by 24% in the next ten years to 2030. Embraced by employees and employers alike, this type of software is bound to expand in usage globally and bring a whole new set of challenges with it. For forward-thinking companies and HR departments, there's a growing need to watch out for these time tracking software trends:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) is gaining traction: The demand for fast and reliable work capturing tools is fuelling a rise in the use of AI in the development of timesheet software. While robots and machine learning may help organisations automate their reporting and analytical operations, these tools may be unable to capture the value of a worker's time, especially in fields of practice where soft skills make the difference between good and bad employees. For instance, in a healthcare setting, AI algorithms may deem a nurse to have spent a needless amount of time comforting a patient when, in fact, their activity ensures that the patient is ready and willing to undergo surgery. Likewise, an AI tool might wrongly flag up an instance of buddy punching when a warehouse worker fills in for an injured colleague. As the AI tool is only as good at its programming, it remains to be seen if this technology can automate every aspect of time tracking in every industry.
  • Biometrics and face recognition usage are on the rise: There is a growing need to be able to check worker identity in environments open to mobile and distributed workforces. Face and fingerprint recognition software is a game-changer because it can help minimise the risk of buddy punching and inflated attendance reports. However, there are privacy concerns to be addressed before employers roll out such tools on a mass scale. The storage and sharing of personal data is a matter of increasing public scrutiny and a topic of emerging security laws. While surveillance may not be an issue in certain parts of the world, companies must be open to the possibility that the rules will tighten for employers, especially as these tools are biased against certain cohorts.
  • Widespread chatbot usage is the next big thing: Whatever the software application, chatbots are becoming part of the user experience. Some time recording software developers have started toying with the introduction of chatbots in their software. They aim to interact with employees in real-time to ascertain that they are at work and report to managers what their current tasks are. The bots might also fill in timesheets by themselves in real-time, which would do away with the need to track individual employees regularly. But as with all other machine learning tools, chatbots are only as good as their programming. Only time will tell how their coding advances might impact workers and their managers.