The top performers in our review are TimeClick, the Gold Award winner; ShopClock, the Silver Award winner; and OnTheClock.com, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 systems.
Employees are a risk small businesses have to take if they hope to expand their company. Most employees work hard, but there are those that slack, clock in late or take a lot of time off. Time card software is an inexpensive way to track when your employees are on or off the clock and analyze patterns to determine if they are worth keeping on or not. These solutions are designed for companies with a small workforce, generally under 25 employees, though some will support additional employees and offer more tools and functions as your business grows.
Basic time card software is usually installed on a single designated computer that all employees and administrators have access to. This PC acts at the time clock, and having only one computer to use makes it easier to ensure employees are physically present in order to clock in or out. It can also be conveniently located in view of managers or HR personnel to cut down on the possibility of buddy punching, or the practice of having a coworker punch in on behalf of another. While some time clock solutions have the option to install the program on multiple computers, time tracking and management systems are designed for use with company networks and physical time clocks, and include additional security measures.
Since you may have employees with various computer skills, we considered how easy it is for workers to use the virtual time clock. Buddy Punch and Time Clock MTS both have very intuitive punch clocks that don't take a lot of training to understand. They also don't have too many extra steps for functions, such as requesting time off, that may confuse some employees.
There are two different price structures that companies use for purchasing time clock software. The first is buying the license outright and owning the system from the beginning. The purchase plan may still depend on the number of employees that need to use the program and you may have to purchase an annual support plan in order to receive any upgrades to the program.
The second price structure is by monthly subscription. These require a per-user monthly fee in order to use the program. Some come with a support plan, though most include technical support and system updates as part of the subscription fee.
Time card solutions should be able to create one of the two most common payroll files, CSV and XLS. Both of these files easily integrate into the best small business accounting software and are compatible with payroll services. Some solutions, such as Time Clock MTS, create IIF files that export directly to QuickBooks Online.
Time card software focuses primarily on creating a simple system for your employees to clock in and out each day and is best for companies with 10 or less employees. However, there are other solutions available that are designed for businesses with more employees and provide additional tools for tracking and managing time and attendance. Here is a quick list of some other solutions that may be helpful for your business.
Time & Attendance Time tracking for companies with 25+ employees
Employee Scheduling Assign employees to specific hours or projects
Billing & Invoice Bill clients for hours worked.
Workforce Management Complete time- and project-tracking system.
Choosing an employee time card tracking solution that is best for you can be challenging. This is why we have included the questionnaire at the top of this page. This will guide you through some important questions and scenarios to consider and help point you to a system that could be a good fit for your company. Additionally, we have several articles on time card software that can offer additional helps and hints. Our sister sites, Business News Daily and BuyerZone, also have articles on time tracking and management type software and additional buyer guides.
What We Tested, What We Found
While testing each of the time card software on our review, we looked at both the employee and administrative experience. We paid close attention to the layout of the program, the ease of using the functions and the intuitiveness of completing functions. We also noted if the program clock matched that of the PC the software was installed on or accessed from. Some solutions had a margin of error of a few minutes, though some included a time-sync feature that changed the time of the program to match our server. Other solutions automatically synchronized with our PC and showed the same time from the moment we started using it.
Time tracking is critical with these types of employee time card solutions, so we looked at the type of time each program keeps track of. Overtime was expected from each solutions, though not all of them are capable of tracking California overtime. We also noticed that several solutions lumped some accruals together, such as holiday and vacation pay, without differentiating the two. The top-ranked time card software tracks vacation, holiday pay, sick leave and bereavement time separately, making it easier to calculate as time is taken and to accurately reflect it on employees' time sheets.
We tested the administrator portals of all of the solutions on our time clock software review. We looked at the various functions available, including access controls and whether or not you can restrict where employees can clock in. We found OnTheClock.com to be very effective in managing time cards, creating audit trails and producing other reports for quickly determining work trends in employees, including consistent missed or late punches, amount of days taken off and time spent on specific projects.
The software itself shouldn't be difficult to install and run on your own. However, technical and customer support is nice to have access to just in case you run into any issues. As part of our review process, we contacted the customer service personnel of time card software providers as clients, asking questions and receiving assistance in order to assess how helpful and knowledgeable the help is. We also took notice of how long we needed to wait, either on hold on the phone or for email responses, before receiving assistance.
The best time card software is manageable, stays stable, and has enough reports and functions to make sure your employees stay focused on the business at hand. Your system should either integrate directly with your payroll system or create compatible reports, such as CSV or Excel files. Support should also be readily available.