Why Use Time Clock Software?
The top performers in our review are ShopClock, the Gold Award winner; RealTime, the Silver Award winner; and OnTheClock.com, 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 these 10 systems.
Payroll can be one of the most stressful aspects of running a business. It can be difficult to ensure your records are accurate, especially if you're keeping track of employee time by hand.
Time card software is an affordable way to track employee hours. Every solution we reviewed allows you to create and export payroll files in various formats to make this aspect of your business easier and more accurate.
The software in our review is designed for companies with a small workforce, generally under 25 employees, though some applications support additional employees and offer more tools and functions as your business grows.
Differences Between Time Card Solutions & Time Tracking Systems
Basic time tracking software is typically installed on a single designated computer that all employees and administrators have access to. The PC acts as the time clock, and having only one computer to use makes it easier to ensure employees are physically present in order to clock in or out. (Boomr is the exception to this rule, as it is cloud-based and works on an app.) Time tracking and management systems are designed for companies with networks and physical time clocks. Often they include additional security measures, whereas time clock software is usually designed for a stand-alone computer.
Buddy Punch and Time Clock MTS both have intuitive punch clocks that don't require a lot of training to understand. They also don't have too many extra steps for functions, such as requesting time off, that may confuse some employees.
Time Card Software Pricing: What You Can Expect
There are two different price structures for purchasing employee time tracking software. The first is buying the license outright and owning the system from the beginning. The purchase plan may depend on the number of employees that need to use the program, and you may have to purchase an annual support plan in order to receive any upgrades to the program.
The second price structure is a monthly or annual subscription. These time card solutions require a per-user monthly or yearly fee in order to use the program. Some come with a support plan, though most include technical support and system updates as part of the subscription fee.
Integration with Other Small Business Software & Systems
Time card solutions should be able to create one of the two most common payroll files: CSV and XLS. Both of these files easily integrate into the best small business accounting software and are compatible with payroll services. Some solutions, such as Time Clock MTS, create IIF files that export directly to QuickBooks Online.
What We Tested, What We Found
When searching for the best time card applications, we considered software and plans best suited for small businesses. We focused on plans designed for businesses with 25 or fewer employees or that have access to a stand-alone computer. Once we narrowed down the applications to meet this criteria, we tested each application and considered its features, whittling our considerations down to our top 10.
While testing each time card software application on our review, we evaluated it from the standpoint of the employee and administrative experience. We paid close attention to the layout of the program, the ease of using the different functions and the intuitiveness of completing functions.
Employee Ease of Use
We especially focused on the employee experience of clocking in and out and requesting time off. Employees have different levels of experience with computers and technology, so for many companies, a simple employee experience is essential. For example, Buddy Punch is especially easy for employees to use to clock in and out each day.
We considered whether an employee dashboard is available. While software with dashboards tends to be slightly more complicated than platforms with just a simple time clock, we found these systems useful, because the employee has the ability to request time off, view the time card, and perform other important tasks.
Administrator Ease of Use
We evaluated ease of use from the standpoint of software admins: small business owners and managers.
Time tracking is critical with these types of employee time card solutions, so we considered the type of time each program tracks. Overtime was expected from each solution, though not all of them are capable of tracking California overtime. California tracks overtime as over eight hours a day rather than 40 hours per week. Tracking California overtime isn't essential for all businesses, but if your business needs to comply with these rules, having this tool will be helpful.
One item that we noticed is that several solutions lump some accruals together, such as holiday and vacation pay, without differentiating the two. The best time card software, however, tracks vacation, holiday pay, sick leave and bereavement time separately, making it easier to calculate totals as time is taken and to accurately reflect it on employees' time sheets.
We paid close attention to which companies can track hourly and salaried employees. The best time clock software can help you track both, which is helpful since one program can help you track all employee types. Most of the companies we evaluated offer options for IP restrictions, which is an extra security measure to help you ensure that your employees are clocking in where and when they're supposed to. An IP restriction controls which computer(s) your employees can use to clock in and out. This can help you avoid an employee having someone else clock in for them. All of the companies in our review sync with your PC or a server to ensure accurate time punches.
Some programs allow administrators to create work schedules in the software. Also helpful for admins are alerts that notify managers whether an employee has sent a note or missed a punch. (Five programs in our review do this.)
Next, we evaluated how easy it is for administrators to approve time off and create payroll files. We considered the availability of different types of payroll files (XLS, CSV as well as TBS and CMS) and how you might be able to export each report to different software applications and payroll services.
Finally, we noted the help and support features. Being able to find answers to questions is important to keep your business running, even when something goes wrong. We looked specifically for video tutorials, a knowledgebase and a FAQs page so you can find answers quickly if you have a common question. If you need to speak with a representative, several companies offer telephone and live-chat support.
Is Time Card Software Right for Me?
Choosing an employee time card tracking solution that is best for you can be challenging. This is why we have included the questionnaire at the top of this page. This quick survey will guide you through some important questions and scenarios to point you to a system that could be a good fit for your company.
Additionally, we have several articles on time card software with helpful tips. Our sister sites, Business News Daily and BuyerZone, have articles on time tracking and management-type software and additional buyer guides.
Time card software, as opposed to other solutions, is best for your business if you need to track employee hours for payroll purposes, but you don't necessarily need extra features like time-off requests or shift differentials, which can track different pay rates for unusual shifts like a swing or graveyard shift, though many of the companies in our review offer these features. This software is designed to be simple for your employees to use, but you may find that you need something with more comprehensive features. For these purposes, you'll want to consider a different type of software.
It can be stressful creating work schedules for your employees while tracking hours for each worker and time-off requests. Employee scheduling software helps you create headache-free schedules and prevents common scheduling problems, such as scheduling an employee for too many hours or for hours that they're unavailable to work. This software can also help you keep track of when employees take time off.
Billing and invoice software is especially helpful if you employ freelancers. This software helps you create invoices for your employees. It also helps you create professional records of bills and invoices created and used by your company.
Now that you've created a successful business, it's an important priority to protect your assets. Access control systems help you control who comes into your building and which employees have access to different areas within your office.
Our Verdict & Recommendations
ShopClock is especially easy to use from an employee perspective and offers nearly all of the features we looked for in time card software, including tracking shift differentials and performing automatic accrual calculations.
RealTime, cloud-based software, is easy to use, but some might find the interface a little remedial. Still, it offers a comprehensive feature set for employees, administrators and managers.
TimePilot PC is one of the easiest time clocks for employees to use and earned a high score in our testing for its employee interface. We found OnTheClock.com to be very effective in managing time cards, creating audit trails and producing other reports for quickly determining work trends in employees, including consistent missed or late punches, the amount of days taken off and time spent on specific projects.
The best time card software is manageable, works properly without crashing, and has enough reports and functions to make sure your employees stay focused on the business at hand. Your system should either integrate directly with your payroll system or create compatible reports, such as CSV or Excel files. Support should also be readily available. Take our survey to determine the best applications for your business, then read our reviews to learn more.
Contributing reviewer: Jill Bowers