As the impact of the COVID 19 epidemic on the global economy and societies starts to feel like less of a momentary blip on the radar and more of the new normal that we are all going to have to adjust to and get used to, people are getting used to the idea of working from home or remotely in some capacity. One of the technologies that have enabled this to happen and thus proven indispensable to the pandemic economy is time tracking solution.
Time tracking software enables users to track and log the exact time spent on tasks and projects within a business. This technology enables the user to track and log the exact time spent on tasks and projects within a business. This technology enables businesses to stay on top of their employees’ productivity by monitoring their effective labor hours while also untethering the employees from their desks and allowing them to have the freedom to do their work wherever they want.
However, as the law of demand and supply goes, the increase in demand for time tracking solutions by businesses and freelancers has led to an increase in the number of time tracking software on the market. It is now difficult for any business, whether a small startup or a big multinational corporation to know not only which time tracking software is the best on the market, but which one is the best fit for them.
In this article we are going to take you through a step by step guide to choosing the right time tracking software for your business. But before we get into that, it is important to know what the features of a good time tracking solution are.
Features of a Good Time Tracking Solution
There are a lot of emerging time tracking solutions on the market right now and while a lot of them are generally good, it is important for you to know which one offers the features that your business specific needs and which ones are offering you the best value for your money.
So before going through the steps to take when choosing a good time tracking solution for your business, let’s first quickly run through the standard features of a good time tracking software. These features include;
1. Time Tracking
This is a fundamental feature of every time tracking software. It should enable users to record their worked hours and it should make that process as easy as possible for all users of every background.
2. Dynamic Timesheets
An effective time tracking software should offer its users a standard form to present their billable hours to their employers, communicating clearly the hours worked, those not worked and why. It should do this in a centralized format that is easy to understand for both the employees and employers. It should also be exportable to other platforms.
3. Productivity Indicator
It is not enough for a time tracking solution to record and log all the working hours for a client though that is certainly the least it should be able to do. A good time tracking software should offer some analysis as far as labor productivity and utilization goes. This can be a good KPI for the business to track as it chases down marginal gains in its efficiency and productivity.
4. Online Invoicing
This is a crucial feature for every time tracking software on the market to have. Online invoicing enables you to bill your clients to down the last minute you spent on their work. It also saves time and allows for transparency between you and your client thus building trust and avoiding unnecessary conflict between the two sides.
5. Project Management
A lot of project management software have an inbuilt time tracking feature, and as a result a lot of the really good time tracking solutions on the market today come with their own project management feature. This feature enables the client to effectively use their time tracking tool to effectively manage and oversee a project/ assignment, which is one of the main goals of time tracking software in the first place.
6. Timely Notifications
Notifications are necessary on any time tracking software because of the need for accuracy in the recording of the timesheets. These notifications will help users deliver high quality time on task and beat their deadlines easily. It is important to find a time tracking software with notifications designed to improve your employees’ productivity as well as lower the chances of mistakes being made on the timesheets like someone forgetting to clock out at the end of an assignment.
7. Collaboration and Team Management
While this feature is not standard on all time tracking software, it should be on all the good ones. Rarely is work ever done in isolation and while billing, and invoicing can be done alone, the work often isn’t. Good time tracking tools recognize that and design for it. This feature enables team leaders to track productivity in their teams and manage the efficiency of the entire team better.
8. Integration with other Platforms
Every department in any given organization would have a reason to use time tracking software. As a result of this, a good time tracking software needs to be able to integrate with other platforms, software and systems that are common in today’s work place. A failure to integrate with other tools could have disastrous consequences for a project like casing tremendous delays and time wasting to manually do the work of integration/ adaptation.
9. Analysis and Reporting
In order for the time tracking data that is gathered to be useful to the business/ client, it has to be presented an easy to understand analytical format, make deductions on the data gathered. This layer of analysis on the data produced by time tracking software helps management make better decisions to increase productivity, who to hire, let go and to promote and thus are better placed to reach the company’s overall goals and mandate.
That is a summary of the crucial features that every good and effective time tracking software should have. While the list is not exhaustive by any means, it is a good benchmark to use when browsing through different time tracking software in order to find the best fit for you. Did any of the features above stand out to you? Do you know the features you are interested in?
Well now that you know what to look out for, let us walk you, step by step, through how to choose the best time tracking software for your business.
4 steps to take when choosing a time tracking software for your business
Step 1: Determine The Features You Need
In order to find the best time tracking software for your business, it is important that you identify the features that you need your software to have. What do you need your time tracking software to do for you?
The features of a good time tracking software summarized above should help you with this exercise. Which of those features are important to your business? Which of them can you live without? Taking the time to identify the vital features for your business will save you time and resources since you will not need to pay for features that you don’t actually need.
Once you have determined the features you need, you can then generate a preliminary list made up only of the time tracking software packages that offer the features that your business needs delivered with the ease that your business requires.
The number of time tracking software vendors on your preliminary is not important at this stage, even one hundred of them are fine. What matters at this stage is that they all offer the features your business needs.
Step 2: Set Your Budget
In order to find the best time tracking software for your business, you have to factor in the budgetary constraints of your search. Setting your budget range early and sticking to it can be a good compass for your business to navigate the marketplace in search of the best value for your money.
Furthermore, you can weigh the payoffs and opportunity costs of each additional feature you want with the marginal cost of getting it to see if it makes sense for you to get that feature or not. This helps you decide what to make a priority and what not to.
This step is also important because it will further shrink your preliminary list of time tracking software vendors that you are considering. There is no point in keeping a vendor on your list that is obviously out of your price range on your list. Eliminate every software that doesn’t fit into your budget comfortably and whatever you are left with on the short list is a more accurate representation of your ideal matches than what you had before.
Step 3: Review And Compare The Remaining Candidates
Now that you have a more manageable shortlist of candidates for your time tracking software, you can now move on to reviewing and comparing the work hours trackers. There are 5 main criteria to take into account when comparing and reviewing the different time tracking software on the market. These include;
- Features and Functionality
- Ease of Use
- Customer Support
- Quality of Reporting
- Value for Money
Checking all the vendors on your list for these criteria is not easy to do manually, since you probably still have a decent number of vendors left on your shortlist at this point. The good news is that you don’t need to do it manually. There is a plethora of review websites dedicated to reviewing and comparing the different available time tracking software vendors. Many of them will even allow you to customize your requirements and budget allocation so as to have more meaning outputs to you.
If you do this step well, you should remain with no more than a handful of time tracking software vendors to choose from, at which point you are now ready for the fourth and final step.
Step 4: Sign Up For Free Trials
The final step for you is to sign up for free trials. This eases the final process of elimination as you have the opportunity to actually use every one of the time tracking solution packages on your final shortlist for a limited amount of time.
Instead of blindly committing to one of the vendors and paying money without knowing exactly what to expect, it is better to audit every vendor on the final list by signing up for the free trials and trying each of them out. While not all vendors offer all the functionality on the free trial, it is still better than making a blind decision that could cost you both resources and time.
You are now all set. With these steps and guidelines, you should feel confident that you can enter the marketplace for time tracking solutions and come out with the right one for your business. Good luck with your search.
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