So many choices, and so little time; it’s an age-old story. Once you’ve decided to start time tracking in your company, finding the right software solution to meet your needs is of the essence.
The market is packed with what appear to be equally viable choices, making the decision even more difficult. So, how should one decided which software to use? Let us help.
In this article, we’ll talk you through what you need to know when on the hunt for time tracking software.
What to look for in time tracking software
Like any software purchase, discovering what you need is a massive part of the problem. Salespeople may try to up-sell you on packages or features you don’t need, or perhaps even your own frugality gets in the way of finding an appropriate software for your business.
That said, no matter your budget, financial disposition, or needs, what you require is a software that is reliable, works and comes with everything you need to make your and your company’s work more efficient.
To get the software you want, we recommend closely examining the following things:
When it comes to time tracking, each provider offers a number of solutions; some are unique to them, others are more common throughout the industry. However, there are some absolute essentials you are going to need, and this includes the ability to track time and manage tasks within the system. Other optional, but helpful, features to look out for include:
- The ability to set project budgets
- Capture and divide billable and non-billable time
- Invoice your clients for time-spent
- Track your overall project expenses
- Configure your time tracking reports to meet your needs.
What good is software if it doesn’t work with the system you already have? In fact, instead of saving you time and energy, this could end up costing you a whole lot more than it's worth.
Which is precisely why it’s vital to check how well the time tracking software will integrate and communicate with your current systems. One way to do this is by trying it out with a trial version to see just how reliable it is. But don't forget to check the specs first.
One additional point to look for is the software’s API–is it open? And if so, can you export and import data as and when you need it? For those using task-specific time tracking this is a huge advantage.
This is the bottom line when choosing your software; you want a product that is high-quality, ticks all the boxes but doesn’t break the bank. With time tracking software products can be priced in various ways, and sometimes it’s not always clear how much it will end up costing you.
One pricing method involves a price-per-user basis to charge you for each person you add to the time tracking system; giving you a clear overview of how much you’ll pay at the end. This method can give you clear cut costs, but it rises with your staffing levels.
Others offer free plans (and we don’t mean free trials or demo modes here), which may sound like a bargain, but could cost you in other ways. Always remember, that this is a company, and they need to make money somehow, so if the pricing structure isn’t clear, you need to find out why.
That brings us onto premium features. Do you really need them? Sometimes premium features just aren’t worth it. Aside from the extra cost, you need to examine carefully if it is something that will truly benefit your business or is just a little extra sheen on top.
Whichever way you choose to purchase your time tracking software, ensure you scrutinize all options and find one that suits you.
The Three Stages of Selecting Time Tracking Software
This is where the learning begins. Before you even dream of purchasing software, you’ll need to know a little more about the market and the options available.
Online research is a handy tool to help you learn more about what’s out there on the market with ease. The internet has a vast array of information ready to be digested.
- Start with some light reading first, here you will learn more about the market. We recommend checking out the blog post, containing the best time tracking apps as a good place to start.
- Now that you know a little more, it’s time to make a list of your favorite three or five time tracking applications. This will speed up the follow stages, where more in-depth knowledge is needed
- And that’s it for this now. Over the next few stages you’ll everything you can about these products so you can make an informed choice.
Top tip! Take everything with a pinch of salt. If an offering looks too good to be true, it just might be, many online articles are sponsored to promote content, which is great if the information printed is accurate, but it’s not always the case. And this is precisely why you should always double check.
Reputation speaks volumes, and never is this more important than when it comes to your business. So, it’s time to keep your ear to the ground (not literally!) and ask your business community what they think of the time tracking software they use.
- Be active and ask around; find out what your professional community thinks of their time tracking software, and which particular pieces of kit helped their business. As they use this software every day, they’ll be in a position to tell you what works for them, and what (more importantly) doesn’t.
- Go to the web. Like we said, ‘everything is online.’ So, right now is the perfect time to keep scrolling those web pages. Read online reviews and articles on the products you’re interested in and discover if they truly work. Sites such as Capterra, G2 Crowd, and TrustRadius, in particular, are excellent resources as they require users to be verified before posting, reducing the risks of faked reviews, and ensuring you receive genuine information.
Top tip! Create a chart with the pros and cons of each product according to the review. Then you’ll be in a better place to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Test mode engaged
Now that you know a little more about what works for other people, it’s time to get your hands dirty (in the figurative sense, of course), and try out some time tracking apps.
Most apps offer a demo mode or a limited-time trial version, letting you test out the software without putting yourself out of pocket. But, like your first time test-driving a car, how do you know what to look out for?
Well, that where we come in. Here are the steps you should take when testing your time tracking software.
- Take that list of shortlisted apps that have passed your review test; now’s the time to take them for a spin.
- Create a list of must-haves for your software–usability, responsiveness, features, etc. and see how it stands up against the test.
- Get in touch with support. Even if nothing is wrong, their level of responsiveness is a solid indicator of how well a company will treat you in the future, and how good they are at handling actual issues.
- Find out more about the company supplying the product and if they are active in its development. A stagnant company may mean your software could be soon out-of-date with no hope of modernization. A rapidly developing company, on the other hand, may be able to incorporate your needs to their product.
Top tip 1! Don’t feel you got what you needed from the demo or the trial? Give support a call. As their focus is converting you into a long-term paying customer, in many cases they’ll extend a trial/demo offer so you can have a little more time to figure out if their software is right for you.
Top tip 2! Yes, two top tips for this one. Since your testing time will be limited, and you probably have a number of other tasks to undertake, this is a case where a little forward planning goes a long way. Make a plan for your time tracking software testing regime and try to stick with it.