Looking for the best time and attendance software? We evaluate and rank TSheets, TimeForce, stratustime and our other top picks.
Credit: ShutterstockGone are the days of employees using paper time sheets or traditional punch clocks to record when they start and end their days. Today, many businesses are moving toward digital time and attendance systems.
The systems combine software and electronic time clocks to not only track when employees come and go, but also manage paid time off and create schedules. Many of these systems are hosted in the cloud and require very little IT resources to run and maintain.
Experts say these systems, which have the ability to integrate with payroll, human capital management and a variety of other programs, increase productivity and save businesses thousands of dollars a year.
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How We Evaluated Time and Attendance Systems
Tom's IT Pro is owned by Purch, which is home to several websites, including Business News Daily and Top Ten Reviews. As a company, we share data and research, and such is the case with time and attendance software. Overall, this gives us access to research on dozens of well-known systems.
Business News Daily and Top Ten Reviews evaluated these systems for ease of use, time tracking capabilities, scheduling and time-off management components, overtime monitoring, mobile access, integration options, administrative controls, time clock compatibility, and cost. We dug through each site's research and conducted our own into IT-specific areas, such as hosting options, uptime and API possibilities. Using all of this information, we narrowed the choice to four services suitable for small to midsize businesses.
Pros: Easy-to-use online portal; remote workers can access from anywhere; built-in help tools and open API.
Limitations: Expensive time clocks and costly implementation fee.
stratustime from nettime solutions is a cloud-based system that costs $4 per employee per month. There is also a one-time implementation fee that varies depending on staff size. We were quoted $1,500 for a business with 25 employees. Time clocks can be bought for between $1,900 and $2,800 or rented for between $90 and $120 a month.
The system's per-employee costs are very reasonable. Many of the other systems we considered had prices between $5 and $10 per employee. Its time clocks, however, are among the most expensive we found.
Since the system is cloud-based, there is very little from the IT side that businesses have to handle. stratustime can be accessed from any internet-connected computer and is compatible will all web browsers.
The stratustime time clock, netone, can connect to the system via Ethernet or Wi-Fi and works with magnetic stripes, barcodes, touchscreen entry, proximity badges and fingerprint biometrics. Employees can also punch in and out from a mobile-friendly website, telephone or any internet-connected computer.
The online portal has an easy-to-understand interface that won't require IT staff to conduct lengthy training sessions. When logged in, managers can see who is working in real time, create schedules, get alerts when employees are nearing overtime or forget to punch in or out, and approve or deny timecards and requests for paid time off. Employees can use the system to view and edit their timecards, check their schedules and ask for time off.
The mobile-friendly website uses geofencing to limit where employees can clock in and out from, as well as geolocation technology to record the exact location they start and end their shifts.
stratustime includes a number of support options designed to free up IT staff from having to answer employee questions on how to use the system. Support tools include a Walk-Me feature that assists users in real time while they are using the system and screen overlays that provide a quick tour of the system and point out how to use various features.
Since it handles all time-related needs, stratustime is a great option for both small and midsize businesses.
Pros: Easy to use; multiple service plans and scheduling and paid time off management components.
Limitations: Expensive time clocks and no open API.
TimeClock Plus is cloud-based system that is available via three service plans: Express, Standard and Professional. Costs range from $12 to $36 per employee, per year, depending on the plan you choose. There is also a one-time setup fee of between $100 and $200.
In addition to help setting up and configuring the system, one hour of training is included with the professional plan.
TimeClock offers a variety of industrial-grade time clocks designed to last 10 to 15 years. The clocks can collect data with PIN numbers, card readers or biometrics. Each clock, which costs between $1,000 and $2,400, can connect to the system wirelessly or via Ethernet, has a battery backup, and can record and store punches when not connected to the system.
The software's online portal is easy for both managers and employees to use. Managers can log in to approve timecards and time off, create schedules, see which employees are on the clock and what they are working on, and access more than 50 labor data reports. Employees can use the system to view their hours, check their schedules, see paid time off balances and request vacation time.
The apps (iOS and Android) let remote employees clock in and out, record breaks, change job codes, and see messages from their managers. The app also uses GPS time stamps to record the exact locations where employees start and end their shifts.
Customer support is available by phone, live chat and email between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (CST) Monday through Friday. The TimeClock Plus website has a dedicated resources section filled with how-to videos to help employees learn the system on their own without the help of IT training.
TimeClock Plus is a full-featured system that has everything a business needs from a time and attendance system. Since it offers a variety of service plans, it can work for both small businesses and larger organizations.
Pros: Numerous time tracking options for remote employees; tracks remote workers; offers an open API.
Limitations: Isn't compatible with time clocks and not a large number of payroll integrations.
TSheets is a cloud-based system that requires little to no upkeep from IT staff. The system works with any browser. It costs $5 per employee per month, plus a $20 fee for businesses with fewer than 100 employees, or $100 for businesses with more than 100 users. There is a 20 percent discount if you pay for a year in advance. Overall, TSheets' per-employee costs aren't high for the overall market, but they are the most expensive of our top picks.
The app (iOS and Android) not only records where employees are when they clock in and out, it also tracks remote workers every 10 minutes. When this is enabled, managers can see a map of exactly where their employees are spending their time each day. In addition to the app, remote workers can clock in and out via computers, phones, text messages and Twitter. TSheets is the only time and attendance system we found that integrates Twitter into its solution.
TSheets offers a full-scale scheduling tool that allows managers to create or modify a schedule with drag-and-drop shifts. It also includes built-in notifications that automatically alert employees via text, email or push notifications when a new schedule is published or a shift is changed. Schedules can be synced with Apple iCal, Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar. This isn't an option with some of the other systems we examined.
The system has an easy-to-understand online portal that requires little training. Employees can view their hours, see who else is working, submit timecards and review paid time off balances. Managers can set overtime rules, add vacation or sick time for employees, approve timecards, and view labor management data.
The system integrates with 14 payroll and invoicing programs for free. For payroll services that TSheets doesn't have built-in integrations for, a special flat file integration can be created for a one-time fee. TSheets also has an open API that allows businesses to create their own integrations for any other programs they use.
Customer support is available by phone between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. (MST) Monday through Friday and via live chat between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. (MST). TSheets also has an extensive knowledge base and detailed user guide on its website.
Since TSheets doesn't work with a traditional wall-mounted time clock, it is an ideal solution for businesses with a remote workforce.
Pros: Low per-employee costs; includes scheduling and paid time off management tools; easy-to-use online portal.
Limitations: High setup costs; extra cost for mobile access; one-year contract required; short warranty on time clocks.
iSolved Time from Infinisource is a cloud-based system that requires no software to install or maintain. The system is accessible from any browser. iSolved Time costs $2.70 per employee per month, with a minimum monthly charge of $80. There is also a one-time installation fee that includes setting up the system to fit each business' specific needs and 20 hours of training. The per-employee cost is among the cheapest, and none of the other systems include such an extensive training option.
iSolved Time offers a variety of time clocks that can collect data by keypad, barcode, magnetic swipe, proximity cards and biometrics. The newest offering, the NXG G2, can be connected to the system via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, and it has a touchscreen display, battery backup, schedule locking and job tracking. It costs $400 to $800, depending on the time collection options you want. Each clock has a 30-day warranty. Extended warranties are $25 per month.
The iOS or Android app — which costs an additional 35 cents per employee per month — lets employees punch in and out, or lets supervisors clock in or out entire groups. The app also lets employees track how long they work on certain jobs and view their schedules. The app includes GPS technology that records employees' locations each time they punch in or out.
The online portal has a straightforward interface that makes the system simple to navigate. When logged in, employees can review their timecards, which highlights any errors, such as missed or late punches. Employees can also ask for time off, view their time-off balances and review their schedules.
For managers, the system offers a lot of customization. Managers can pick and choose, without the help of an IT staff, the features they want quick access to on their dashboard, such as views of which employees are nearing overtime, which employees are habitually late, time-off requests and a tab that shows which workers are on the clock. Not all of the systems we looked into offer this level of personalization.
While iSolved offers its own payroll program, the time and attendance system can be configured to integrate with any other payroll provider. A special export utility can be created that automatically imports your time and attendance data into your payroll system.
Support is available between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. (MST) Monday through Friday. iSolved also has a learning center built into the system, iSolved University, which features a host of training materials, downloadable guides and tutorial videos.
While iSolved Time has all the features any size of business could benefit from, its minimum monthly costs and implementation fees make it an excellent option for midsize and large businesses.
Time and attendance systems save a business money by reducing manual errors, cutting down on the number of hours employees spend filling out time sheets or transferring that information into payroll programs, eliminating salary overpayments, improving scheduling, monitoring time theft and protecting against wage-related lawsuits. Time and attendance system provider Replicon estimates that improvements in these areas save businesses with 100 employees $40,000 to $60,000 a year.
When choosing a time and attendance system, there are several factors to consider to determine what's best for your business:
Time and attendance systems are available as hosted or on-premise solutions. The majority of systems use the Software as a Service (SaaS) model and are hosted in the cloud. The cloud-based systems require no software to install or maintain, run using any browser, and charge monthly fees. Software upgrades and ongoing support are typically included in your costs.
With on-premise systems, the software is installed directly onto your company's servers and operates from your own in-house network. An IT staff is responsible for maintaining the software and providing employees with any support they need while using it. With this option, you pay a one-time software licensing fee. No software upgrades are included in your costs.
There are a variety of choices for wall-mounted time clocks. Clocks can cost anywhere from $200 to $3,000 each, depending on the features they include. The biggest difference between time clocks is how they collect the data. Options include the following:
- Keypads/PIN numbers
- Magnetic stripes
- Proximity cards
- Facial scans
Besides clocking employees in and out, some clocks also give workerst he ability change job codes, access their schedules, ask for time off and check their PTO balances.
You'll also want to decide if you want your time clock to connect to your system via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, whether you want battery backup in case the power goes out, and if you want the clock to store the data should it lose its internet connection.
Biometric Time and Attendance Systems
To prevent employees from clocking in and out for their late or absent peers, also known as buddy punching, many organizations are searching for biometric time and attendance systems. These are essentially the same as all other time and attendance systems, except for that they work with biometric time clocks. Biometric time clocks take fingerprint, facial or hand scans to ensure each employee is only clocking in and out for themselves.
Pretty much any time and attendance systems that work with a physical time clock offers biometric options. The only systems that don't have biometric options are those that only allow employees to clock in or out via a computer, mobile device or telephone. However, some of those systems do use a computer or mobile device's built-in camera to take a picture of the employees with the punch in or out, which can also prevent buddy punching.
While some time and attendance systems only record when employees come and go, other systems are much more sophisticated. These are some of the features you might want in your time and attendance system:
- Job Tracking: Employees can log their time on specific projects and tasks.
- Scheduling: Managers can create schedules for individual employees or by shifts. Employees can view current and future schedules when they log in to the system.
- Paid Time Off Management: Employees can track vacation and sick time accruals and request time off; managers can approve or deny those requests.
- Mobile Access: Workers can access the system via apps.
- Alerts: Managers can be automatically alerted via email, text message or push notifications when employees forget to punch in or out or are nearing overtime.
- Integrations: Either via built in integrations or an open API, the system can easily connect to the other programs you already use, such as payroll and human capital management.
Other Time and Attendance Systems
These are the other systems we considered that Business News Daily and Top Ten Reviews have researched:
ADP Small Business Time and Attendance
AMG Employee Management
Attendance on Demand
Data Management Services
Hillman Time Systems
Kronos Workforce Ready
McKesson Time and Attendance
Open Time Clock
Sierra Workforce Solutions
Time Management Systems
Wasp Barcode Technologies
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