Time Tracking Software


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Time Tracking Software Overview

Time and attendance tracking software has one primary function - it records when employees clock in and out of work. It actually does a great deal more, either intrinsically or through the use of add-on modules, but the prime directive is tracking when people arrive at work, lunch, and when they leave work.

Time and attendance software is a very effective means of replacing cardboard time cards and the difficulties that accompany them - things like indecipherable employee scribbles and incorrectly calculated time. It also keeps employees from cheating, for example, arriving at 7:40, but writing down 7:00 as their start time.

The information that these systems gather from the simple act of electronically recording arrival and departure times is sufficient to generate numerous reports, extrapolate a great deal of data, and make a variety of assumptions. The ancillary benefits of using time and attendance software can, in many cases, be even more valuable than the ability to track arrivals and departures.

Payroll departments can use the collected data to produce total hours worked and the amount each employee has earned for a given period of time. Determining annual leave and sick leave can also be automated directly from the time and attendance data, and overtime hours can be monitored.

Actual devices used for time tracking can vary. Most are comprised of a badge of some sort and a corresponding reader. The badge commonly contains either a magnetic strip or a bar code. When the employee arrives at work in the morning, he or she swipes the badge through the card reader. The same action takes place when the employee leaves work for the night. Sometimes the swipe is accompanied by punching in a pin code.

Some very sophisticated systems, primarily used in areas that require high security, consist of a hand or finger print reading or an iris scan. These biometric systems are extremely accurate and eliminate a couple of issues that complicate other systems. There is no need for any kind of card - after all cards wear out and have to be replaced. The practice of buddy punching, where one individual clocks in for someone who is really not present on the jobsite, is also virtually eliminated as well.

Costs for systems range from less than a thousand dollars to several thousand dollars. Costs depend on the type of system desired, the features it contains, its level of sophistication, and a variety of other variables. Different systems have different requirements in terms of other software and hardware, as well as connection speeds.

As noted previously, much of the value that a company can derive from time and attendance software lies in areas other than just tracking when people arrive and depart. Advanced systems can track employees across multiple locations, track how hours are allotted against project budgets, and make payroll calculations much simpler. Wireless solutions including use of the Internet, PDAs and cell phone technology, further streamline all of these processes and work from various locations, no matter where employees might be scattered.

Software vendors ofen design software with particular businesses in mind. A temporary employment agency has different needs than a manufacturer, which has different needs than a restaurant. The important things that a propsective buyer should consider are integration across platforms and getting the features that are most useful to the particular business for which the package is being purchased.

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