Time and Attendance Systems Review
Why Buy Time and Attendance Systems?
The top performers in our review are TimeClock Manager, the Gold Award winner; TSheets, the Silver Award winner; and Workforce Ready by Kronos, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 systems.
You invest a lot into your company to make it successful. In addition to time and money, you invest in your workforce. That is why it is important to make sure your employees are doing their part in helping your business move forward and not taking excessive breaks, showing up late or taking too many days off.
Time and attendance systems are designed to integrate into a time clock, whether physical or virtual, that keeps track of when your employees punch in and out for work. Most solutions are hosted on the provider's server, which means important information about your employees is saved and backed up in case of a power or system failure in your office.
In addition to punch clock capabilities, time and attendance systems create a way for time-off, holidays and other accruals to be calculated, applied and tracked. The best systems include both an employee and administrator portal, allowing both to manage certain aspects of the time keeping software.
What Type of Solution Does Your Company Need?
While there are many standalone time card software programs available, most, including those we reviewed, are part of an all-encompassing time tracking and management system. Features include those that assist managers in tracking employee productivity while on the clock and payroll compatibility. These systems are specifically designed to assist HR personnel balance between employee performance and payroll requirements.
While time and attendance software tracks employee timesheets, other solutions are available to track individual projects and to allow you to bill your clients. Workforce management software are solutions that are perfect when you are managing a lot of employees on several projects at once, while billing and invoice software is good for sole proprietors that need to quickly issue an invoice to bill their client.
The best companies that help you install and track the time and attendance of your employees will create a solution that is suited to your business, based on your specific company and industry needs. It will also ensure it is customizable so that it meets the need of your employees, tracks project hours and conforms to your pay rules. Some solutions to consider are ADP's ezLaborManager, part of the Workforce Now small business suite, if you need assistance scheduling employees to ensure compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Redcort's Virtual TimeClock if you use Mac computers and laptops.
Reading our articles on time card tracking can help you learn more about how these solutions can save you time and money, while the guided questionnaire at the top of the page will further help guide you to a solution that fits with your specific company employee tracking needs.
Time & Attendance Systems: What We Tested, What We Found
When choosing a system to track when your employees are onsite or not, you first need to determine the equipment you already have or need to purchase. Most solutions are cloud based, meaning you can log in using your own web browser. Others have options to connect with a mobile device or a time clock. If you have a time clock that requires a badge or a biometric clock that uses fingerprints or retinal scans, there are solutions that integrate with these, too. We tested all of the systems on our review using web browsers and virtual time clocks and focused on solutions designed for small businesses with no more than 50 employees.
We created a pseudo company of 25 employees, both salaried and hourly, that needed a web-based time and attendance solution. We requested payroll integration, employee scheduling and productivity tracking tools if they didn't cost extra. We were able to obtain a general idea of pricing for time and attendance solutions. Some systems allow you to purchase the license, set it up and host the program on your own server. Others required a monthly subscription.
Here are some additional features we looked for while reviewing time and attendance systems.
Most companies have employees with various computer skill levels. This is why we paid extra attention to how easy to use and intuitive the employee time clock and dashboard are. We looked to see if there were any unnecessary links, tabs or information, even if it wasn't accessible by the employee, in the employee portal that may cause some confusion. Those that were given a higher usability score made the employee punch clock experience very simple and intuitive.
In addition to clocking in and out for work and breaks, employees also need a quick, easy and efficient way to submit time-off requests. Some systems included a clearly marked tab or button that allowed them to send the request quickly to their manager. Others required several additional steps that often were not as clear nor easy to remember. The ease of requesting time off from the employee time clock was also used to determine the overall usability.
The administrative portals always contain more information and functions to help support employees as hours are tracked and payroll is run. Even though administrators have more accessibility to various information and tools, we still considered how easy the system was to navigate. Some solutions packed a lot of tabs or text links into a limited amount of space, making it a bit overwhelming to try and find the link or path we needed for functions, such as exporting payroll files or adjusting employee times.
We also rated the usability score based on the setup and training available. Some systems, though very simple to install, still came with free, professional setup and training. The top time and attendance system even provides in-person services. Other solutions require a setup fee that ranges from $150 to $1500 or more. A few systems didn't offer personal help but did provide video tutorials or a comprehensive knowledge base that covered the topics important to that employee tracking solution.
Time & Employee Tracking
The best time and attendance tracking systems should be able to track both hourly and salaried employees. Other crucial time changes, such as holidays, time-off requests and overtime, should also be included. Employee profiles allow you to set up a dashboard for each individual worker so that they all have the freedom to log in and view their work history, request time off and see accrued vacation time. Flexible pay periods and the ability to track the productivity and performance of each employee are also important features to consider.
While testing time and attendance systems, we looked at how intuitive the client portal was to use without too much assistance from user guides or support personnel. In the dashboard, we looked to see that directions were clearly displayed and written, information tabs and links easily located, and the program simple to navigate through.
Administrative Reports & Controls
It is important for human resource directors and administrators to be able to custom set parameters for tracking and paying employees depending on their performance. Some of the controls to look for include notifications when a time change has occurred, such as when an employee clocks in or requests time off, forecasting to determine how many employees you need for an upcoming project, and retroactive calculations to go back and adjust time and pay if a mistake is found.
Reports, including audit trails, help you see at a glance if you have an employee or two that take too many breaks or are consistently late reporting in. All of the time and tracking systems we reviewed are compatible with small business accounting software, online accounting solutions and payroll services for accurate and uncomplicated paydays.
While testing these systems, we again looked at how easy it was to implement and navigate the system from the administrator's portal. From this end of the program, more information is available to filter through. We looked at how easy it was to find the needed information for the task at hand, if the dashboard was customizable, and what types of reports and notifications administrators receive when changes or actions took place on the employee side. It was also important to verify that timesheets and payroll calculations could be retroactively changed after they had been submitted and approved.
Help & Support
Because there is often some bugs that creep up when installing or operating a time tracking system, being able to connect with support personnel is important. Look for a service that not only offers email and telephone support but also comes out to your business to help install and train you on how to use it correctly. Data backup is a good option to have available in case anything locally stored is inaccessible due to power outages or system failures.
We interacted with support personnel extensively, asking questions, including obvious ones, in order to determine not only how quickly and accurately the answers were when given, but also how courteous the representatives were during out interactions. We went through demonstrations, walkthroughs and free trials in order to get a grasp of the full experience when trying out and deciding on a time and attendance software program for a small business.
The right time and attendance system for your small business can save you the time and stress of managing employee time, shifts and accruals. Great software will fit your current business structure and give you the option to grow.