Time Tracking Software

Common Problems

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Time Tracking Strategies

For most companies, time translates into money and time saved is money saved. Such is the reality of the world we live in today. Companies are taking that literally by focusing on tracking time and attendance of employees by electronic means. Time and attendance software can save a large company millions of dollars a year just by reducing the instances of buddy punching, the fraudulent practice where one person punches the time clock for another individual who is not present. They can also reduce other forms of timesheet or payroll abuse.

Current technology allows four primary ways of tracking time with an automated system - through magnetic stripe badge readers, through bar code label badge readers, through proximity badge readers, or through biometric readers of various types.

Magnetic badges and badge readers were first on the market and remain less expensive than the other types. These are largely ineffective at preventing either buddy punching or security violations. They have other drawbacks as well. The magnetic stripes wear out rather quickly. These systems and cards can also be damaged by a magnetic field.

Bar code badges and readers last longer than magnetic strips, but present even more security problems. A bar code can be photocopied, and the paper version works just as well as the badge itself in many cases. That makes the practice of buddy punching even easier.

Proximity badges, which contain a radio frequency identification chip, are user convenient because they dont have to be inserted in the reader to be detected. They only have to come within six inches of the reader mechanism to be recognized. Wear and tear is a negligible factor with these types of badges and they dont get dirty and arent easily damaged. The downside is that they cost considerably more than the other two types of badges, and dont eliminate most types of fraud.

Biometric devices, on the other hand, virtually eliminate buddy punching. They read the geometry of the hand or fingers, or of the iris of the eye. They are often used in tandem with a badge type of solution. However, biometric solutions increase employee discomfort among those who are concerned about their personal information being violated. They are also costly to implement, although the up front costs are generally nearly negated by the amount of money saved.

Another solution that has emerged in industries where workers are not physically present at a service center or are mobile throughout the day, is use of personal digital assistants (PDAs). The worker logs into the companys computer via a wireless PDA and proceeds to record destinations and times throughout the day. This type of solution works well with over the road drivers since they, and the companies that employ them, have to be cognizant of the numbers of hours driven in order to comply with federal and state regulations.

There are a number of solutions out there that aredesigned to eliminate punch card time clocks and paper and pen record keeping. They all have particular strengths and weaknesses that can be matched to the business that is considering purchasing them. They are more or less efficient at preventing buddy punching and at providing different levels of security. And, the cost ranges vary enough that a business needs to seriously consider what system it really needs before making the purchase. Huge companies that field thousands of workers each day do not have the same needs as smaller companies with only a few hundred workers.

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