We look at cloud apps that can take the hassle out of time tracking – and help improve productivity and profitability.
Time tracking and timesheets aren’t the same thing, but because they are related both sets of functions are often combined into one piece of software.
Timesheets are for recording the time actually worked by hourly paid employees. They are important for several reasons, among them to ensure that employees are paid correctly – including overtime rates when they are due – and that their hours comply with the minimum time between shifts specified in the relevant award or registered agreement.
Given the relationship between timesheets and payroll, good integration between the timesheet software and your accounting or payroll system is an important part of maximising the time savings that accrue from using timesheet software. Not only is it quicker if one feeds the other, it also removes the risk of errors being introduced while re-keying the data.
Time tracking is about recording how long people spend on particular tasks so that the actual cost of a project or serving a certain customer can be determined. That information can be usefully transferred into an accounting system so the client can be billed accurately for time, to get a more precise idea of the profitability of various business activities, and to help provide better estimates of the cost of future projects.
Ease of use is always an important consideration with software, but it is particularly important with time tracking. Employees are motivated to fill in timesheets accurately and promptly, otherwise they might not get paid properly. Generally speaking, there's no equivalent benefit from time tracking but the quicker and easier it is to record the details, the more likely they are to comply.
Cloud-based time-tracking apps can help with this, particularly if they offer mobile apps as well. Some also offer expenses tracking as well, so some of those covered here – Avaza, Reckon Time & Expenses and Rounded – were also included in our comparison of expenses tracking apps.
Next: we compare six cloud time-tracking apps
Avaza includes time tracking among its other features, which include expense tracking, project management and invoicing.
The time spend on activities can be collected stopwatch-style, entered manually, or imported from other sources. Time can be charged according to the project, person or category, or marked as non-billable. Timesheets can be subject to approval if required, and billable time flows through to invoices.
Avaza is free for a single user (up to 100MB of storage, and other limits apply), then prices start at $US9.95 per month for the first two users plus $US5 for each additional user.
The free tier can be used to trial the service.
Available as a cloud service or on-premises application, TimePro provides time tracking with integration with MYOB, QuickBooks and Xero.
Features include easy time entry, expense recording, timesheet authorisation, a compact interface for use on smartphones and tablets, time tracking at the project or task level, role-based charge-out rates, and Microsoft Project integration.
Prices start at $8.75 per user per month for the first five users, charged in blocks of five users. There's also a $2.50 per user per month charge for accounting integration, and a once-off $150 setup fee.
A 30-day free trial is available.
Reckon Time & Expenses
The add-on is very cheap at $3 a month for unlimited users, plus an additional $2 if you want time and expenses information to flow into invoices or projects, or for batch processing of multiple claims.
The Reckon One app for Android and iOS makes it easy to enter timesheet data, along with expenses as they are incurred.
A 30-day free trial of the complete Reckon One system is available.
Rounded is intended as a basic business suite for freelancers and sole traders. So along with invoicing it includes time tracking and billing, along with expenses tracking.
Each project or time entry can be given its own rate – that's important for many freelancers as they charge different hourly rates for different types of work. Time entries can be invoiced whether or not the project is complete, which is helpful in situations such as ongoing projects or when the client has agreed to be billed progressively.
The basic plan costs $14.95 per month, but the $19.95 “pro” plan is needed if you want to use the bank feed or GST capabilities.
A 14-day free trial is available.
Timesite provides a web interface for entering timesheets manually or via a timer. Expenses can also be recorded.
Timesheets can be exported in various formats for use with software including MYOB, Xero and Microsoft Office. PDF is another export option, and Timesite can be interfaced with Microsoft Dynamics or Project Server.
Prices start at $8 per user per month. A nice, money-saving touch is that the company only charges for active users – that is, those who record time during the month. This would be handy for businesses with highly seasonal workforces or casual employees that sometimes work no shifts in a month.
The $16 plan adds the ability to charge an employee's time at different rates, plus a budgeting feature. Then there's the $20 plan with fully customisable fields and invoicing.
Job tracking and to-do lists are available as an add-on for $3 per user per month.
A 14-day free trial is available.
TSheets handles clocking in and out, plus tracking time spent on particular customers or jobs. Times can be entered manually or automatically, and there's provision for sick leave, carer’s leave and annual leave.
The TSheets app for Android and iOS makes it easy for mobile employees to record their time and activities, even when they can't get a mobile or Wi-Fi signal. GPS tracking while employees are clocked-on helps substantiate invoices for on-site services, find the closest employee to attend an urgent call, or locate employees in the event of an emergency. The app even reminds people to clock in or out. A web app is available for Windows 8 or BlackBerry users.
The separate TSheets Kiosk app allows a tablet to serve as a replacement for the traditional time clock for situations where it is not appropriate to expect employees to clock in and out using their own devices.
TSheets timesheets can be sent to QuickBooks Online, Reckon Accounts or Xero for invoicing and payroll. There's also a way to export files that can be loaded into MYOB, Sage and other accounting and payroll systems.
The optional scheduling module for TSheets makes rostering quicker, and allows shifts to be allocated to teams or individual employees. Shift notifications and new jobs are sent to the TSheets app on employees' phones or via email.
One-person businesses can use TSheets free of charge. Otherwise the price is $5 per active user per month, plus a base fee of $20 a month or $100 if there are more than 100 users. On paid plans, the scheduling features cost an extra $2 per user per month.
A 14-day free trial is available.
Consider other options too
Note that this feature is designed to give you an understanding of some of the cloud time-tracking apps that are available and how they differ in features and pricing. While we have compared what each of these services offers here, we haven’t tested them. And there are other time-tracking applications available. We strongly advise doing your own research into a number of options and taking full advantage of free trial periods.