Time tracking has never been as relevant as now. No matter whether you are managing a remote team, or simply want to improve the overall state of your business, you are most likely looking into time tracking solutions.
Many business owners are wondering about the necessity and benefits of time tracking. That is why we have gathered the most common and relevant questions about the practice and answered them.
1. What Are the Best Free Time Tracking Software Programs?
Pricing is one of the most important factors when it comes to time tracking software. Some business owners want to give the business practice a spin to see how effective it is. However, they may also want to do so without having additional costs to their budget.
Free time tracking software is available in many forms. From timesheet templates, over automatic timers to basic features of otherwise paid platforms. The solution you choose will depend on your business’s needs and the type of time tracking you want to implement into your team’s routine.
Simple automatic timers are a way to know exactly how much time your employees spent working. The downside of this method is the fact that employees can easily forget to turn the timer on or off.
Timesheet templates (either paper or Excel models) are a great way to get more details about your team’s activities. However, they aren’t perfect either. Namely, it takes a lot of time to go through the data and get the information you need.
Finally, free versions of paid time tracking platforms give you more options and usually deliver reports on different aspects of your business. These free versions are always restricted in some way. For example, some companies choose to offer limited features, while others limit the free version to a certain period.
Time Analytics offers a fully operational free version with no restrictions for small teams. If your team has more than five members, you can use the 14-day free trial of any of our other plans. You can find out more on our Pricing page.
2. What is the best time tracking software?
Unfortunately, there is no universal answer to this question. Each business is different and even the most similar companies can have vastly different policies. Additionally, labor laws in many countries also regulate time tracking. For example, taking screenshots of employee devices – a popular feature many platforms offer – is prohibited in the countries that fall under the FLSA.
In other words, even if you find the perfect solution for your team, it doesn’t mean you will be able to use it. Here are some things to consider when first getting a time tracking platform for your business:
- Regulatory compliance
- How easy or difficult is it to learn to use the program
- How much time does it take to fill all the required fields
- The level of customization
- The quality of the reports
- Whether the program shows you trust your employees or not
All these factors are very important, and you should take your time to go through them when choosing the best platform for your company.
3. What’s the most efficient way of tracking employee hours?
Again, a question with multiple answers. The efficiency of time tracking platforms depends entirely on what you expect of them.
If you are looking for maximum precision, a timer-based solution is a great option. However, automatic timers don’t account for human error. For example, if the users need to toggle between multiple timers dedicated to specific tasks, there is a great chance they’ll get confused or forget to switch to the according timer. Additionally, timers often don’t account for breaks.
A more sophisticated tracking system will also give you more accurate data, but most of these platforms are difficult to navigate to the average user. They also usually take more time to fill out each day. Additionally, the initial set-up of the system may take a lot of time and so can different tweaks.
If you are looking for a way to be sure your team is doing exactly what they need to be doing, you may want to look into different programs that monitor user activity. This is usually done through
- Taking screenshots
- Monitoring hardware use (keystrokes and mouse activity)
- Monitoring software use (web pages, applications, and document names)
The downside of monitoring user activity boils down to trust. If you are looking at every move the members of your team make, you are bound to look like you don’t believe their word. Hence, the morale in the company could go down.
Timesheets come in two shapes – paper and electronic. Paper timesheets are not reliable, as they don’t offer any way to check whether the entered information is true. Also, you will need to go through many pages to find a specific piece of information.
Automated timesheet programs are efficient as any team member can fill them out quickly. You can filter through the information they enter by different criteria and find the specific piece of information easily. You can also check whether your employees are being truthful in their timesheets by comparing them to their peers.
4. How to do time tracking in my team?
Once you’ve chosen the time tracking method that suits you and your team best, it’s time to implement it. It isn’t a good idea to start using the software at the company level at once. You will need to conduct a trial program in a single team or department, so you can catch any mistakes, difficulties, and potential questions your team may have.
Simply put, the results won’t come right away. There will be a learning curve. It will depend on the complexity of the program you’ve chosen. That is why you will have to take your time and allow your employees to learn about the new tool. Be ready to answer some questions in the beginning, and above all – be patient with your employees.
5. What is the benefit of a time tracking app for a small business?
Many small business owners believe time tracking is only relevant for large companies. However, small businesses can also benefit from understanding how their teams spend their time.
- If you track the time of your projects you will be able to assess the length of your future endeavors. The same applies to the resources and manpower needed for a project.
- You will be able to see which team members are the most efficient. Also, you will recognize the warning signs of burnout and help the employees push through it by redistributing their workload.
- Recognizing unfavorable contracts is another benefit you will get by tracking employee time. Once you realize a client is costing you more than what they bring to your business, you’ll be able to draft a better offer for them.
- Time tracking apps also deliver numerous reports, both real-time and periodical. Any business needs to have these reports to be able to register both growth and warning signs of different problems.
- Many time tracking platforms help their users create itemized bills for their clients and employees alike. This way both your fees and employee payroll will be explained thoroughly, but you won’t have to spend any energy on them.
As you can see, this is a high degree of automation, which is especially convenient for small teams.
6. How to know your employees are filling timesheets every day?
Similar to any mandatory daily activity, many employees can overlook time tracking. That is why it is important to check in with your employees and make sure they’re submitting their logs regularly.
- Incentives like small rewards can motivate employees to fill their timesheets regularly
- A superior employee (i.e. a manager) can supervise whether this duty is completed
- The systems themselves sometimes offer the option of reminding users to complete this task after they haven’t done it for a certain period
7. Why do companies use timesheets? How are they useful?
Timesheets are one of the most popular time tracking methods. This is true since many business owners understand the benefits of using them.
The purpose of timesheets is to account for all work time in a company. To put it plainly, automated timesheets contain all information about any given project’s progress. Having such a clear overview helps business owners and managers make informed decisions about the next step they should take. Timesheet programs show different metrics, such as employee productivity, time utilization, and account for all time and resources used for any particular project and client.
Additionally, timesheets are the most trust-based method to track employee time. In other words, your employees will see that you trust them to be honest when logging time. This way they are more likely to be honest when filling their timesheets than any other method of time tracking.
8. How timesheets are entered in companies?
Companies that use timesheets as a time tracking method have their employees fill out a form (timesheet) every day. The workers are usually given a template with space for all necessary data – the task, project, and client they’ve engaged with that day, the time they spent on any task, their billing rate, whether certain hours were billable or non-billable, etc. Once an employee is about to head home, they fill in all required fields with that day’s data and submit the timesheet to the program.
Some timesheet platforms allow for the revision of old timesheets for a while. That means users can make changes to their reports to make them more accurate. However, it is important to archive older timesheets after some time, as they will only take up the space needed for new entries.
9. What Pain Points Are You Experiencing With Time Tracking?
You need to be aware of the problems you’ll be facing while implementing time tracking in your company. After all, you are introducing another step to your team’s daily work routine, and there will have to be some hiccups.
For example, if you decide to use a more complex system, your team will need a bit of time to get used to it. Also, you will have to organize special training, which will take time and energy. Additionally, no matter how thorough you are, some employees will need more help as they get used to the platform.
Secondly, even if the system isn’t very difficult to manage, you (or your IT team) will have to explain some details quite a few times.
No matter the degree of difficulty, your employees will sometimes forget to use the program. This is normal, especially in the beginning. Hence, your system should feature a reminder of some sort to make sure all logs are submitted in time.
The morale of your team is also probably going to decrease. The nature of time tracking leads to grudges and resentment. This means that you’ll have to be very clear in explaining the benefits of the program, both business and personal. Additionally, your team needs to know the platform won’t be used to punish them for not working every single minute of their workday, and you will have to follow through on this.
10. What Is a Good, Simple Working Time Tracker?
Simple time tracking means that your employees can log their time in only a few clicks. Choosing the right one for your team depends on your expectations.
A single-click timer will allow your employees to log the time they came into work and left. this is the simplest way of logging time and doesn’t give you any additional information.
Time Analytics enables users to log their time in a few minutes. This comes from the fact that you can set up a template for your employees, so they only have to enter necessary data in a few clicks and submit the timesheet.
11. What Is a Reasonable Cost for Time Tracking Software?
It is understandable for a business owner to not want to spend a lot of money on time tracking. Fortunately, many time tracking platforms are reasonably priced. They cost approximately a few euros per user.
However, even this cost can add up to a large sum if you are leading a large team. We understand your hesitation in this case. That is why our pricing plan includes discounts for large teams. Don’t let the expense of a time tracking platform prevent you from reaping all of its benefits!
12. How to Analyze and Make Use of the Results from Time Tracking?
At a glance, it looks like time tracking is a way to monitor and control your employees. This can be a good use for the platform. However, the true worth of time tracking programs lies in the reports they deliver.
All the data your employees enter into the system is used to create an overview of your entire business. You will receive reports on your most important key metrics. Here is how you can utilize this knowledge.
- Profitability per project is an important metric that lets you see which projects are making you the biggest profit. You can compare different projects and determine whether you should redefine some of your contracts. You can also identify your least profitable projects and terminate those contracts. This way your team will be able to focus on a more important task and bring overall productivity up while working less.
- You can use time utilization reports to find a way to increase the number of billable hours. For example, you can analyze the activities that make up the bulk of your non-billable hours. Then, you can find a way to reduce these activities. Long daily meetings can usually take a lot less time, and so can long email threads.
- Recognizing your top performers, as well as the team members who are struggling, can help you in your day-to-day business. Leading a happy and productive team means utilizing everyone’s strengths. It also means knowing when to help a team member who is overwhelmed by tasks. If you are wondering how employee satisfaction helps your business – think of the costs, energy, and resources to find and train new employees.
There are many other examples of how detailed reports can help you make informed decisions about the future of your company. This is all possible since the employees are the most important asset of each professional service company.
13. Why Are Timesheets Necessary?
There are multiple reasons for this. We are going to list only some of the most important ones.
- As we have previously mentioned, some countries mandate timesheets are issued with employees’ payroll slips
- Understanding your business inside and out will help you make smarter business decisions and achieve higher profit margins while not overwhelming your team
- Your clients will have a transparent itemized bill for every project, which will increase your business’s reputation in your industry
- You will be able to delegate tasks fairly and according to each team member’s capabilities and current workload
- Your employees will notice their work rhythms and start adjusting their time, using their most productive periods to do the bulk of their most demanding tasks and taking breaks once fatigue sets in
14. How Do You Cure an Aversion to Completing Timesheets?
As we have previously mentioned, most employees won’t be jumping in joy once they find out you’re starting a time tracking policy. This is understandable though. You are adding an extra step into their daily routines. Additionally, the said step will make them more aware of how they spend their time. this may lead to some unpleasant discoveries.
It is natural for your employees not to enjoy filling their timesheets. However, the process is crucial to the progress of your company, and you will need the entire team to complete this task.
Hence, you will have to create an incentive for your employees. Whether it’s verbal praise, an award system, or monetary compensation, it is important to give your team a reason to complete this task regularly.
Negative reinforcement isn’t a good way to go about things. Don’t punish your employees who forget to complete their timesheets as long as it doesn’t keep happening.
Of course, if the software you use has a reminder feature you can avoid a lot of trouble. Our platform sends automatic reminders to the employees who haven’t submitted their timesheets in a week.
15. What Are the Best Project Management Tools with Time Tracking?
Combining two types of software can be a great way to be more efficient and save funds. Combining time tracking and project management tools is a great move, as the two are closely connected and depend on each other.
If you are looking for some options that offer both project management and time tracking options, you can check out our dedicated article on the topic.
16. Is a Timesheet Really Useful for the Employees?
Yes. Time tracking, and especially timesheets are very useful for the individual. However, getting the most out of this type of software isn’t a given. That is to say, the employees will have to work to get to the benefits.
Organizing a company-wide time audit is a great way to help your employees help themselves. This means your employees will have to be absolutely honest while tracking their time and dedicate a lot of attention to their work for a week.
Then, they will be able to get absolutely accurate information about their time. they will know the answers to the questions like
- How long does a certain task take to complete?
- What are my biggest distractors?
- When does my productivity spike during the day?
- When do I need to take a break?
This will enable them to organize their workdays more efficiently. They won’t be forcing themselves to work while they can’t focus. This will result in breaks that actually help them regain their energy and attack the rest of their tasks.
17. Is Time Tracking Software Essential for Startup Business?
There is no better time to obtain a firm grasp on the inner workings of your company than right at the start. This is especially true if you are taking on the role of a business owner for the first time.
Using time tracking can help your business and your team develop more quickly. You’ll also be able to prevent losses and recognize problems before they become unmanageable.
So, to sum things up – a startup can benefit from a time tracking software solution even more than an established business.
18. How Does an Automated Time Tracking Tool Work?
Most automated time tracking programs include an automatic stopwatch. There can be single or multiple timers.
If there is just one stopwatch, your employees will simply turn it on once they start working and turn it off when they’re done for the day.
On the other hand, if there are multiple stopwatches, each one of them is connected to a different activity. Hence, the employees will need to switch between different timers as they go from one task to another.
If the stopwatches are connected to different clients, the system will automatically allocate the time spent on a specific task to the client and charge them.
19. How to Cheat a Time Tracker?
No software is perfect. Time tracking platforms aren’t an exception either. If you are looking for a way to trick your company’s system, you will probably find one. Even when it comes to the systems that monitor keyboard and mouse activity, some people will put a heavy object on their keyboard or move their mouse from time to time.
However, cheating a time tracker isn’t viable in the long run. That is to say, if an employee is slacking at work, their results will show it. Once the managers compare everyone’s work, they will definitely see whether you are cheating the time tracking software or not.
To put it simply, if you decide to avoid your responsibilities, the time tracking software will show it. Maybe this won’t happen immediately, but your bosses will catch on relatively quickly.
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