Small Business Time Tracking Software: How to Choose

As a small business professional, how concerned should you be with tracking employee time? Well, look at it this way: is profitability important? Is it important to stay on track with budgets and projects? Yes? Then you should absolutely be tracking time.

Time Tracking

In part one of this series (“How Small Business Can Benefit from Time Tracking“), we looked at creating a requirements list so you can buy time tracking software with confidence, and understanding the software rollout process. In this second article, we’ll look at questions to ask to make sure the demo is rock-solid, and the advantages of software-as-a-service versus installed software.

The Most Common Mistake in Buying Timesheet Software: Don’t Fall For a Deceptive Demo

You have the right to demand that any vendor absolutely, completely prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that their solution will solve your company’s specific business problem.  You deserve a detailed demonstration that uses your employee list, customer list, project list, your company’s logo, color scheme, and that shows you reports on your data that will prove to you that your business problem is solved.  If a vendor can’t make you 100 percent certain that the solution will work for your specific business needs, then walk away. Canned demos are designed to deceive.

Questions to Ask Vendors:

  • Can you absolutely prove to me that you will solve my business problem, using my employees, departments, projects, etc., and then show me the reports I need to see?
  • Can you provide references of clients that have successfully integrated your product with my accounting system, my project management system and my payroll service provider?

If the vendor can quickly configure the software during a demo for you and show you that it really meets your needs, then he probably can do it quickly after it’s installed at your company as well.

SaaS Flexibility Allows Early Rollouts, Server Protection and Easier Upgrades

If the software is 100 percent Web-based (and it should be to avoid obsolete technology and installation problems), you can run it from any computer on earth. Software companies can deliver technology via two different models: installed at your location or rented by you and running on the vendor’s site. The latter approach is called software-as-a-service (SaaS). There is no reason a provider can’t offer both options.

SaaS allows early rollouts, server protection and easier upgrades. In an early rollout, the vendor lets you temporarily use the SaaS site while your IT shop deploys the machine purchased for your local installation. Server protection is the process of sending a backup to the vendor in case your local installation fails. Thus, the vendor can get your system running on his site instantly.  SaaS allows easier upgrades because you’re provided a test site during the upgrade process that requires no hardware purchases on your part.

Questions to Ask Vendors:

  • What sort of backup generator do you have in case of a power outage at your SaaS site?
  • Where is it hosted?
  • How many connections to the Internet does your SaaS site have?
  • How much does server protection cost?
  • Can I roll-out on your SaaS servers and later transfer the data to my own servers?
  • Where are SaaS backup tapes stored?
  • What kinds of security and fire suppression capabilities exist at the hosting site?

Look Outside the HR Department

When payroll executives implement time and attendance systems to automate payroll, they often miss the chance to facilitate greater profitability throughout the entire company. These executives are, of course, payroll experts. They are usually not experts at project accounting or billing automation.

The time data they collect, if collected appropriately, can also be used to automate project management, project costing, project tracking, and project estimation improvement. Additionally, the data can be used for internal, external and reverse billing automation.

Think back to that requirements gathering portion of the timesheet software selection process.  Bring in R&D managers, marketing folks, and A/P people.  Have an entire selection team.  Yes, it may be harder, but it will unleash profitability that you didn’t know you had available.

By following the tips outlined in this article, you can be sure that timesheet software will make enormous profitability increases in your company by automating payroll, billing and most of all project cost accounting.

Time Tracking Photo via Shutterstock

More in: 12 Comments ▼

Curt Finch Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx. Founded in 1996, Journyx automates payroll, billing and cost accounting while easing management of employee time and expenses, and provides confidence that all resources are utilized correctly and completely.

12 Reactions
  1. What SaaS solution do you use at your business?

    • Jonathan Yankovich

      I’ve had this problem for a long time as a freelancer and am now using Last5 to record time time throughout the day… Last5 is unique because it lets me log time without really having to think about it and then gets out of my way. The reports are beautiful, too.

  2. Many small business owners rely on our time tracking app Paymo . In the past year we’re seeing that users are less concerned about SaaS than a couple of years ago.
    More and more people realize the huge benefits of a cloud solution vs a self hosted or desktop solution. This has a lot to do with the fact that cloud soltions are becoming mainstream and even businesses that were skeptical about SaaS in the past are turning to the cloud.

  3. I am looking for a time tracking app for my lead carpenters to be able to enter when in the field that will integrate with my Excel based estimating system that we enter into Quickbooks. Any suggestions. It would also be great to take photos of receipts from vendors that would be able to integrate after initial setup into a job costing scenario that would also link with Quickbooks.

  4. I have been very happy with the service UATTEND. We use strictly iphone or andriod apps. Very easy to learn and work every week.

  5. Anyone interested in an integrated time tracking solution should check out the Perfect Accounting Tool program. It is offered SaaS, runs in the browser (all operating systems), multi-user, encrypted connections, and created for small business owners to use themselves. It includes employee and subcontractor interfaces, which are free, so that they can enter time or ‘punch’ their timecards. Employees and subcontractors are not counted toward users and are unlimited and free.

    To answer some of the questions above, the servers are located in a qualified datacenter with redundancy to guarantee maximum up-time including, power, bandwidth, cooling and security.

    Our system is easy, yet customizable. You can create as many time types as you need to keep detailed records. Time is coded to worker’s compensation so you can save on premiums. It has vacation and sick accruals, too.

    We have a demo, but I promise we didn’t build it to deceive anyone. We made it accessible so you can see what the program does. We are very progressive, if the program doesn’t do something, we want to know about it. We make recommended changes and the everyone will benefit because upgrades are always free.

    Please don’t hesitate to ask us questions or request features. We are always listening.

  6. Our Web based time reporting solution, Time Tracker.Net (http://www.TrackerSuite.Net/Time) is available as SaaS or can be licensed for internal hosting. Its features include:

    * Can be surfaced in email.
    * Utilizes email to automate approval workflows.
    * “Auto Nag” email reminders for late time sheets.
    * Time sheet compliance reports.
    * Multiple time sheet formats.
    * Configurable time sheet forms.
    * Integrates with QuickBooks Online Edition.

    You can register on our website for immediate access to a hands-on evaluation with a pre-configured demonstration site.

    Joe MacNish
    Automation Centre

  7. Hours Tracking is another great time tracking tool that’s ideal for small to mid-sized teams and freelancers. It’s timer-based, so billable hours are captured in real time, which makes it easy for PMs and administrators to access the data they need when they need it without disrupting team members. It’s web-based, so there’s nothing to install, and priced right for small businesses at just $1/month/user.

  8. Hi Curt,
    We love Paymo as an online time tracking & billing software. It’s a great, affordable tool used by thousands of freelancers.

  9. Today, time is much more important than money in business world. We must manage our time through reliable time tracking tools. Personally i would recommend Timelive Time Tracking Application due to it’s efficiency.