2020 Time and Attendance Software Buyer's Guide
Manually creating employee schedules, keeping track of hours worked, and handling time off requests can be challenging and error-prone for companies and confusing and frustrating for employees. However, modern Time and Attendance software can help you manage your staff’s time much more efficiently and eliminate manual processes that are hindering your operations or diminishing employee satisfaction.
Time and Attendance software solutions are available in different capacities. Some vendors offer stand-alone systems for tracking employee hours, overtime, vacation days, and handling scheduling, while others offer time and attendance tracking capabilities as part of a larger suite of tools, including Payroll and HR Management.
Choosing the right solution for your business is crucial to accurately tracking employee hours and ensuring your profitability, but with so many different choices available on the market, knowing which system to choose can quickly become overwhelming.
This guide will provide insight and tools for selecting the best Time and Attendance software for your company.
Time and Attendance Software Benefits
Time and Attendance software is a collection of tools and applications that help your company streamline processes for tracking employee hours, managing schedules, adjusting for overtime, planning vacation days, and more in one standardized system.
Managing all of the core processes that go into properly tracking employee time in one system can bring your business distinct benefits, which include:
- Enhanced cost savings through elimination of manual processes and minimized mistakes in tracking employee hours
- Increased productivity and efficiency in your teams
- Streamlined system with automations and tools to help make time tracking seamless
- Improved morale and employee satisfaction
- Enhanced scalability options as you grow your business
- Improved and simplified compliance with labor regulations
Time and Attendance Software Features and Key System Capabilities
Determining which solution is best for your business will depend on several factors, including company size, budget, and needs, but in general, you should be looking for a time and attendance software that offers these core features and capabilities:
- Employee Time Tracking
- Tracking of Overtime Hours
- Scheduling (creating and managing employee schedules)
- Attendance Tracking (clocking in and out, logging time)
- Vacation and Time off Requests and Tracking
- Employee Communication Portal
- Employee Self-Service
- Remote System Access
- GPS Tracking
- Document Management
- Reporting and Analytics
Time and Attendance Trends to Watch in 2020
Business trends and software trends have a symbiotic relationship much of the time, innovation in one area always drives change in the other. To stay current and competitive in your industry by embracing all the best tools for your business, you should regularly study trends surrounding the software solutions you use in your company.
Time and Attendance as Part of a Larger Suite of Tools
While there are a variety of great time and attendance solutions that work as stand-alone offerings, many of the larger software companies that offer more robust Human Resources (HR) Management or Payroll tools have built time and attendance capabilities into their systems to provide businesses with a more streamlined approach to managing employee processes, in one centralized system.
Companies that require physical clocking stations on-site at their work locations must implement hardware that gives employees a place to clock in and out as part of tracking their hours worked. There are various options for employee validation available, including unique PIN numbers or encoded cards that a employee must swipe in order to clock in or out. However, many time and attendance software companies are beginning to include biometrics as an employee identification method to ensure that employees aren’t making mistakes or purposely clocking co-workers in and out. Biometrics will continue to evolve in 2020, and give companies more control over the time tracking process by requiring a fingerprint, retinal scan, or facial recognition process to access and use the time clock.
Another area where time and attendance solutions are advancing is in GPS tracking. GPS tracking can be used to identify where field employees are located and help track time spent on particular jobs or sites as part of their work each day. This data can be analyzed and used to constantly improve service levels and keep employees accountable on the job.
Mobility is a huge trend surging across many software categories in 2019, and time and attendance is certainly no exception. Many solutions have mobile access more built into their systems so employees can clock in or out remotely or manage PTO requests and more through a cloud-based system.
Choosing Your Perfect Time and Attendance Software
Conduct a Business Review
Before you select your time and attendance solution, it is a great idea to make a list of the specific business needs that are driving your decision to implement a new system or upgrade your existing one. Thinking about the communication barriers or other issues that may be holding your business back will help you gain insight into just how different time and attendance solutions will best fulfill your needs and help you meet your goals.
Questions to Ask to Guide Your Review:
- What time clocking errors or mistakes occur consistently, and what is their impact on your company?
- Are your existing time tracking tools and systems outdated and cumbersome for employees?
- Are the costs of operating your existing time and attendance solution outweighing the benefits you receive?
- What tools and features are must-haves for our company? Which features aren’t as vital? Do you just need to track employees' hours, or will you require more advanced functionality that includes features such as a biometric log-in mechanism?
- How tech savvy are the employees who will use the system most?
- What deployment method makes the most sense for our business and budget? Will a cloud system work nicely, or do you need physical clock-in stations set up on site?
- How many people will use your time and attendance system? What training will they require?
Build Your Time and Attendance Software Budget
After you’ve conducted a complete review of your business needs and have a strong understanding of your time and attendance requirements, it is important to figure out the budget you can allocate toward purchasing or upgrading your system.
Using the list you prepared while reviewing your business needs, you can determine how much value will be created by using a time and attendance system, and prepare your budget accordingly. There are solutions available along a sliding scale of prices that are affordable for most any business, so when you create your budget for this purchase, you should give yourself spending limit as well as a range of pricing models including one-time installation costs or monthly fees. Depending on the size and needs of your company, one type of plan may make more sense financially over the other.
Determine Which Type of Time and Attendance Technology Will Best Suit Your Needs
Time and attendance vendors typically offer an array of different technologies and deployment methods to best meet the size, budget, and needs of your company. While cloud solutions are swiftly gaining popularity, particularly among small and medium companies, many businesses need on-site time clocking stations for employees to use when they arrive at work on-site.
Here’s a closer look at the main time and attendance technology options available on the market:
Cloud-based technology is becoming increasingly popular for all types of business software, and time and attendance is no exception. Cloud technology functions through a third-party platform that is powered by the internet, which supports business mobility and remote system access that a flourishing company needs. Cloud systems are also quite affordable, which gives more companies the opportunity to embrace a time and attendance earlier in their business.
On-Site/Physical Clocking Stations
On-premise, or on-site time and attendance solutions are systems that are built on-site in an office building or other physical location. On-premise time and attendance solutions require hardware and ongoing updates and maintenance, which makes implementation more expensive than cloud solutions. But if you need a physical station where employees clock in and out (using PINs, cards, or even biometrics), then setting up a solution on site may make the best sense for your business.
Think About the People in Your Company Who will be Using Your Time and Attendance System
For your time and attendance solution to be a success in your business, your employees will need to embrace it and use it to its full potential. If your system is cumbersome or confusing, many employees may become frustrated and not use it as much as they should, or use it incorrectly-which can be costly for your business.
As you think about the time and attendance users in your company, think over these questions to find the best fit for your teams:
- How many users will be using the time and attendance system?
- What levels exist in your users? (Basic, Intermediate, Advanced)
- What are the needs of each group of users?
- What type of support will users need as they learn and use and maximize the potential in your time and attendance?
- What training will my employees need?
Know What to Look for in Your Perfect Time and Attendance Vendor
As you meet with various time and attendance system providers that you’re interested in working with, you should do some due diligence in researching their reputation before you commit to purchasing their services. Some of the key things you should look for in your perfect time and attendance provider are prominence, reviews, and support.
Industry prominence and popularity
While you should not choose a time and attendance provider based on popularity alone, a vendor’s standing in the industry can signal what you can expect from their services. Make sure that the provider you select has prominence in the industry and is popular among other companies with similar needs as yours.
Reviews from current or past system users
One of the best ways you can easily research a time and attendance provider you’re considering is to look for reviews given by current or past users. Reviews from current companies using the time and attendance can give you great insight into how the provider treats customers and how companies value their services and features. Past reviews can establish a history of service values and give you a snapshot into how the provider handles business over time as well.
System support offered
Support is a vital component that all time and attendance system providers will offer. However, the types and degree of support will vary from provider to provider, so make sure you know what level of support your team will need, and then ensure your selected time and attendance vendor can easily fulfil those support needs.
Understand Your Hardware Needs for Your Time and Attendance System
If you choose to implement a cloud-based or hosted time and attendance solution, then you will not require any hardware to get your solution up and running quickly. You’ll just need an up to date computer or mobile device and a high-speed internet connection for the system to function following implementation.
However, if you’re going to be implementing a time and attendance solution on site, you’ll need to plan on investing upfront for hardware, installation, and ongoing maintenance on your system.
Research and Compare Multiple Time and Attendance Providers
Once you have a firm grasp on all the things you need and want from your time and attendance, and understand what you must invest, then you can begin researching and comparing time and attendance vendors.
There are many excellent time and attendance providers on the market, and you’ll undoubtedly be able to find your perfect system if you take a bit of time to really look into what each vendor offers and compare your top choices against one another to determine which is best for you and your business. As you compare your options, make sure to keep your list of key business needs and required features handy so you can reference them and keep yourself on track as you absorb all of the information and create a short list of viable time and attendance options.
Set up Demos and Get Pricing from Time and Attendance Providers on Your Short List
Once you’ve created a short list of three to five time and attendance vendors that you’re interested in implementing, it’s important to take your preparation and research one step further and get in touch with each one. Most providers will happily set up meetings to discuss your time and attendance needs and requirements and can demonstrate all the key features for you.
Before you participate in a meeting or demo with a time and attendance provider, make sure that you refresh your memory on all your business and feature needs. It is also a great idea to provide your lists to the vendor prior to meeting, so they can put together the custom options and pricing they have available that will meet your needs. This will make your time much more efficient, and also give the vendor a clear understanding of exactly what you require.