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Time tracking software can offer important gains in efficiency and accountability for businesses
Time tracking software allows for companies and employees to keep an electronic record of how their business hours are allocated. This can be particularly useful for companies that bill by the hour as part of their business model. Some time tracking software incorporates billing into the software package.
A simpler version of time tracking software is time management software. Commonly available programs such as Excel can be used to create simple spreadsheets that document how you spend your time. Outlook can create calendars that document time spent on projects, with the option of synchronizing calendars with other workers. In contrast, time tracking software packages centrally document time spent on projects, and may allow for synchronization with payroll and billing systems (Duncan 2013).
Time tracking software became mainstream in the late '90s and early '00s. Government contractors became important clients as they used the software in order to ensure compliance with complex contract rules (Flandez 2004).
Tracking how employees use their time can reap benefits in the long run. Tracking time can allow for increased productivity, as businesses better understand what business practices lead to wasted time (BusinessNewsDaily 2013). This type of software encourages accountability for large businesses, and allows for business owners to keep all time data in a central location (Duncan, 2013).
The top five industry time tracking software packages are Replicon, Tenrox, BillQuick, Harvest, and Dovico (Brooks 2012; Jenkins 2013). All of the top packages offer the ability to track time and attendance, filter and export reports, and provide summaries of individual employees, expenses, and projects. All are available through a web-based interface, with BillQuick additionally providing a downloadable Windows-compatible interface (Wheeler 2011a).
Replicon stood out for its use of cloud-based management software. It is divided into six different applications, for increased functionality. TimeBill and TimeOff manage time off, TimeCost manages employee time cost, and TimeAttend tracks employee attendance. WebExpense and WebSchedule are web-based interfaces to keep track of company expenses and employee schedules, respectively. Clients are assigned an individual customer success manager who aids in installation and troubleshooting potential problems. Online support is comprehensive, and live support is available 24 hours a day. With its large feature set and organizational structure, Replicon has proven an effective time management solution. However, it requires the purchase of separate software for expense management (Zawacki 2012).
Tenrox is structured around a well-built user interface and a cloud-based management structure. The user interface is centered on an easy to use search bar function, a vertical navigation system, and a customizable set of quick links. These lead users to spreadsheet-like timesheet columns. The timesheet data can then be transferred into the invoicing function. This function, though complex, is streamlined and efficient. Managerial options compile requisite data, enabling analysis of business practices to increase efficiency. The software can be accessed through mobile or desktop-based applications, offering flexibility to workers. The support system is easy to use and responsive. Though its many features are impressive, its capabilities are best suited for medium and large firms. Furthermore, the initial customization process was somewhat difficult (Wheeler 2011b).
BillQuick provided the most integration capabilities out of all of the reviewed software, with excellent technical support. The user interface is intuitive and links to the most frequently performed actions. Other actions can be reached through a well-organized navigational bar. All entries are color-coded and show billable dollars, updated in real time. Vacation tracking is also possible through the central time tracking function. Data can easily be exported into invoices; final copies of these can be distributed in a variety of formats. Its reporting features construct data into business intelligence reports for managerial use. A feature rich program, BillQuick was rated highly for its time management capabilities. However, the program's depth could also make learning the many features it offers difficult (Wheeler 2011a).
Harvest, recently integrated with Xero, provides a user-friendly cloud-based solution for small businesses. Its user interface is easy to use, and was designed to simplify time management, in comparison with other programs on the market. It has won numerous industry awards for its design interface. It provides seamless timesheet and billing integration. It does have fewer features than other comparable software packages, as it is targeting small businesses that may prefer simplicity to a feature-rich environment (Jenkins 2013). Reviewers criticized it due to a lack a payroll calculation option (Tankersley 2012).
Dovico is a multifaceted business solution, with top marks in all categories when reviewed by independent reviewer Bright Hub. It stood out when compared to other industry leaders as it offered a comprehensive packaged solution. Purchasing additional modules for increased functionality was not necessary. The web based program ran smoothly and avoided compatibility issues. If a user desired to use a direct install version of the program, customer service was very helpful in assisting users through the process (Moncton 2008).
In conclusion, time tracking software can offer important gains in efficiency and accountability for businesses. Top industry solutions offer comparable functionality, with Dovico and BillQuick scoring highest for overall functionality.
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