Accurate work tracking is crucial for understanding business processes and managing work efficiently. Here’s how you can motivate your team to track their time.
Timekeeping, being a simple and efficient way of productivity tracking, is used by many companies. Depending on the company’s requirements and the nature of performed activities, different techniques are used. Systems and apps available at the market offer various ways to record work hours and use the collected data for analysis and decision-making, so a thorough research is required for selecting the best time tracking app for the team.
There are several categories of time tracking systems, depending on how they work. Let’s go through the main types and see what benefits they can bring to the table.
Implemented as swipe card readers or software solutions, these systems are based on registering time when an employee arrives and leaves the office. The methods of clock-in and -out can differ: badge cards, phone number dial, clock-in kiosk, mobile app, etc. These systems are used in work environments where tardiness or unexpected absence are not acceptable (customer service, support, medical services etc.).
The main benefit of this system is the ability to track attendance and manage absences on the team in a convenient way. These systems are easy to implement and don’t require any effort to use. If nothing beyond basic data is needed, they are a perfect match for a team.
However, they have some drawbacks. The main is the “buddy punch-in”, the possibility to clock in for a coworker who is running late or is absent. There are various ways to prevent this, such as face recognition or fingerprint clock-in, but in some systems, this is a major flaw.
It’s also worth noting that clock-in/ -out systems can hardly suit teams where employees switch between tasks throughout the day or week. These systems only allow to record time spent at a job location, but don’t allow to record time spent on specific tasks.
Time tracking systems based on geolocation and geofencing also work more like attendance trackers for remote employees and teams. They are usually implemented as an app on a mobile device that punches in upon arrival at a specific site. This way, they are often the best choice for managing field workers and distributed teams.
The main benefit of GPS-based systems is accurate real-time data on where each employee is. What’s more, it eliminates the risk of “buddy clock-in”, typical for time tracking and attendance management systems that don’t make use of the GPS data.
Among its negative sides, the feeling of being surveilled 24/7 is the major concern. It’s not unexpected that employees are reluctant to share their location data, and if an app is installed on an employee’s personal device, legal repercussions are possible. Another drawback of the GPS tracking systems is the inability to track time for specific tasks.
Background capturing systems
This type of time-tracking systems is based on monitoring employees’ activity on the desktop. Usually, the service runs in the background and collects information on applications an employee is using and websites they are visiting. The app distributes time data by specific tasks or just provides raw data for analysis. Mostly, these solutions also include taking screenshots and sending them to managers.
The main advantage of this type of a time tracking app is that it eliminates the need to log time spent on specific tasks manually. It provides detailed reports and usually prepares the data for productivity analysis.
However, these systems are typically not welcomed by the workforce, as they create an uncomfortable environment where every step is monitored and logged. What’s more, they only work for office environments and can hardly be used for remote and distributed workforce.
Manual time-tracking apps
Systems based on manual recording often include two methods of time entry: from a keyboard and with a timer. Employees can log time from their desktop browser or from a mobile app, depending on the system, and edit their time entries later. As manual recording systems collect detailed data, they can also offer reports on daily, weekly etc. activities that can be used for work planning and productivity analysis.
The main advantage of these systems is the level of detail collected by the app. The breakdown of the data by specific tasks provides employees and managers with valuable information on how to make work activities more efficient. They can be used both in office environments and for remote workforce – even an Internet connection is not always required.
There are some cons too: people tend to forget about their timesheets, making the responsible person chase team members for time-track. However, notifications built in the tools tend to solve this problem.
Choosing the best time tracking app: the checklist
Just knowing the categories of time tracking solutions is not sufficient for the selection process. Several factors need to be taken into account, so we’ve prepared a checklist for you to be choosing the right app for time-tracking on your team.
- Analyze your goals and select the method accordingly. Do you need to manage remote workers’ attendance? Is monitoring employees’ presence at distributed job sites crucial for your work process? How much detail do you need on how your team members are spending their work time? Ask and answer these questions and select the method that would meet your team’s needs and help achieve the goals.
- Select the features you’d like to have besides time-tracking itself. Many time-tracking apps are equipped with various additional features that simplify work operations – or are just a dead weight that you never needed but paid for. Analyze and decide whether you need cost & billing management, project tracking, advanced reporting, etc., and narrow your choice to the apps that only include the necessary functionality. Our selector also helps a lot for speeding up this process.
- Analyze the technical side. Do you want to use the time tracking app just on premise or anywhere? Where would you like to keep the data: on your company’s internal server or in the cloud? Review your company’s data security requirements and see what time-tracking solutions can meet them. What’s more, analyze user experience: is logging time from the desktop sufficient or would your team members need mobile apps?
- Define reasonable costs. Among the suitable solutions, select those that meet your budget, and compare prices for specific periods and per user. At this step, note that some vendors offer discounts for nonprofits and educational institutions, and have free packages or plans for small teams. Carefully review pricing, and contact vendors’ representatives for more details on discounts.
Selecting the best time tracking app requires thorough analysis of your company’s requirements and available solutions that can meet them. Careful review of methods, features and pricing plans offered by different vendors is key here. To understand your team’s needs better, you can also consider engaging your employees in testing of various systems, collect their feedback, and choose what works best.