4 min read

Online Time Tracking Flapps
I have read many top ten reviews that rarely gave me any value, as many of them are not current or are clearly written just for affiliate purposes. So yesterday I rolled up my sleeves and started digging into the many online time tracking software options out there. I went through many registrations and tested dozens of time tracking web and mobile applications myself. I feel pretty confident to help those shopping around for cloud-based time tracking app with how to choose and what to look for in 2012.

Online / Cloud-based

Yes, in 2012 no one should make a decision to go for get-a-server-install-yourself-in-house time tracking software. It might have been debatable a couple years back, but it is not now. Don’t be the last one to jump on the cloud train. I’m sure you all have read it before, but 3 of the biggest advantages of cloud based online time tracking software are that you don’t have to worry about IT, thus are:

  • free to focus on your work
  • there are no upfront costs
  • and you get constant software improvements and upgrades

 

Simple to use

Avoid getting complicated software. Resistance to change by employees is one of the biggest problems when getting new software. Involve your employees, let them try the software and give you feedback. They are the ones you need to get on board. Managing the user software adoption is crucial. Getting clunky software that makes their lives miserable can kill the whole initiative, will get you bad data that will outset all the benefits that your company can gain using online time tracking software. Get your most computer challenged user to test the online time tracking software to see if it is intuitive to use. That will be your best test overall.

 

Clients, Projects and Budgets

Everything you do is a project. Whether small or big, done internally or for an external client, it is a project that should have a budget. Make sure that software lets you structure your work into projects and tasks and easily track the progress.

 

Billable / Non-Billable

This feature is pretty standard across the board. Make sure the software has the ability to set hours and expenses as billable or non-billable. Using this feature to clearly distinguish between the paid and non-paid work, helps you focus on making money. This will help you increase billable hours and also will save you a lot of time with the billing.

 

Integrated Time Off management

This one is very important. We heard this from many of our clients. You start with a need to track employee time, but after that is taken care of, very soon you realize you need a tool to track the paid time off (PTO) too. And it just makes sense to have it within one software, as time tracking and time off management are so intertwined. It is important to mention that Time Off is the number one feature that gets you the highest ROI as it eliminates costly PTO-related fraud.

 

Groweable

Imagine that your company will grow bigger. Will the time tracking software you choose today still be a good match a year from now? Features such as the ability to create and manage organizational structure and hierarchy based approvals are the kind of features you would want to look for.

 

Reports

Make sure the software you choose has all the reports you need, and allows the export of data into excel to create custom reports. Remember, you are not using the software only for tracking time, but for seeing the big picture on your business through reports, dashboards, progress bars, monthly and yearly statistics. That’s where the software’s real value is.

 

Mobile

A real must in today’s world of living the mobile life. Make sure to try the mobile app yourself for at least day. We have seen  some pretty horrible mobile apps. Don’t forget to test this out too late in the process.

 

Secure and Reliable

Take time to read the tech stuff. Good cloud software will describe their hosting, security and backups. Make sure your data is hosted by a well-known cloud company in the US. We recommend Amazon AWS as they are clearly a #1 cloud service provider, with Rackspace being a distant #2. We do not recommend to go with a company that does their hosting themselves. Always look if the company has presence in multiple data centers, so your data is secure and accessible no matter if one server goes down.

 

Price

Shop around. Especially in the time tracking, there are several really good online applications. Don’t settle with whoever comes on top of  Google search results. Don’t miss out on interesting newcomers. It is a fast paced area of software development and things are literally changing overnight. Monthly fees per user are small, I recommend comparing the yearly costs for the whole company, that will help you understand the price difference better. At the end of the day, the essence of online time tracking software is to save you money and help you save money that you are losing now.

 

Thanks again for tuning in.

 

Paul

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