The Best Time Tracking Software

The Best Time Tracking Software

The Best Time Tracking Software

Time tracking software tracks how long you spend working on a specific project or during a day or week.

Time tracking software is most commonly used by:

  • Freelancers, contractors and the self-employed
  • Employees who work remotely for part of or the entire working week
  • Employees who work across multiple sites or regularly visit customer sites
  • Project managers
  • Employers whose workforce operate on a shift pattern
  • Agencies who wish to keep track of hours worked by their contractors

Why Is Time Tracking Software Useful?

Here are a few ways that time tracking software can be useful:

One Less Thing to Remember

Tracking how long you spend on a project by simply using a normal clock may seem like a straightforward method to use:

Start the job at 9.15 a.m., finish at noon.

That accounts for two hours and forty-five minutes clocked.

There are problems with using this method, however:

  • Even if you note the start and finish times, you are still relying on your memory. In times of stress or when undertaking a heavy workload, you might forget to write down how long you have worked
  • Memory is not always reliable. You might forget that you took a fifteen-minute break or assume that you started at 9.15 a.m. when it was 9.20 a.m.
  • Interruptions can derail your time tracking. For example, you might spend 10 minutes trying to get off a call from a family member, or your computer begins an update process while you are away from your desk for five minutes

Time tracking software makes it easier for you to record the hours you have worked and removes the need to rely on memory.

Simplifies Your Billing

Many self-employed people work at an hourly rate. By using time tracking software, you can easily convert your tracked work time into customer invoices.

Many time tracking software applications can be linked to your accounting software, automatically generating client invoices.

This can be especially helpful when your rate varies depending on the project or the client.

Are you interested in accounting systems for your business? Here are our 8 Best Accounting Software Solutions for 2021.

Tracks the Cost-Effectiveness of Your Projects

If you charge per project instead of per hour, time tracking software can easily indicate the cost-effectiveness of a project.

For example,

Having figured how long it will take you to complete a client project and any related costs, you quote $1,400. You use time tracking software to measure how long it takes you to complete the project.

You find that, due to time spent answering customer questions and requirements they added part-way through the project, the job took a third longer to complete than you had first expected.

This, therefore, reduces your daily rate and the cost-effectiveness of the project.

*As a result, you can alter your future terms and conditions to factor in customer communications and additions to the project. *

Assists Accurate Client Quotations

Using data sourced by using time tracking software on previous projects, you can develop a clearer picture of how long future projects will take.

That allows for more accurate client quotations and resource assignments.

Tracks Productivity

Whether tracking your performance or that of a workforce, time tracking software can indicate patterns of productivity.

For instance, by pinpointing:

  • What time of the day productivity is at its highest and lowest
  • Which team members are the most and least productive
  • The effect that different work tasks have on productivity; for example, customer service phone calls, data entry or filing
  • Whether levels of productivity are higher when working for one client over another

Tracking your or your team’s productivity in this way can provide a more detailed explanation of their performance now and how to improve it in the future.

What Types of Time Tracking Software Are There?

Time tracking software can be grouped into three categories:

Project Management

Time tracking is a crucial element of project management. Hours logged under a project can indicate:

  • Progress made
  • Whether resources, such as staffing, need to be allocated to different areas of the project
  • Where costs should be apportioned, for instance, which client or which accounting/departmental code

This type of time tracking software is commonly used where it is necessary to track the progress of a team or a wider workforce.

Find out more by reading Project Management Software Packages: 8 of the Best.

Individual Project

This type of time tracking software is frequently employed by freelancers, contractors or agencies who work with self-employed workers.

Time is tracked against a specific project, often in the form of a timesheet so the hours can be billed accordingly and to check that the time spent on the project was as expected and cost-effective.

General Hours-Based

General hours-based time tracking software is more likely to be used by employers to keep track of the hours worked by their employees.

It is especially prevalent where the workforce operates on a shift pattern.

This format of time tracking is often referred to as ‘clocking in’.

What to Look For in Time Tracking Software

When deciding which time tracking software to choose, here are the top things you should look for:

Editing Features

There are two ways that an editing feature can be helpful when tracking time.

First, you should be able to edit the time you have already tracked.

For example, if you had to take a break mid-work-session but forgot to record it.

Second, you should also be able to add a work session at a later date.

This might be useful in a situation where you worked off-site. For example, and were unable to record that work session until the following day.

Report Production

Running reports from your time tracking software can provide a range of business insights.

For example:

  • To discover the balance of hours worked for different clients
  • To find out which tasks take up the majority of your working week
  • To collate work-sheets from a team of freelancers so that customers can be billed and the team can be paid

A reporting function adds value to the most basic of time tracking software.

Compatibility With Other Software

Time tracking software is seldom used in isolation, and so the ability to link the data it gathers to invoicing software or project management tools is a must.

What about the other software applications you use in your business, such as:

  • Word processing software
  • Calendar
  • Cloud storage

If you expect to use time tracking software alongside other business packages, the two must be compatible.

Cost

Many time tracking software packages are free at a basic level, but these will likely not include everything that you need. For example, the number of users or integration with other software.

Deciding which time tracking features are a must for your business will clarify whether a free app is sufficient for your purposes or whether you need to pay for an ongoing subscription.

Number of Users and Projects

Will you alone use the time tracking software or will it be used by a whole team, or even teams?

Free plans will generally allow a limited number of users. Paid plans may charge per user/month or offer unlimited users for their most expensive plan.

When it comes to the projects you intend to track simultaneously, free plans will generally limit the number of projects to one or two.

Paid plans are more likely to offer unlimited projects or a higher maximum.

Mobile App

Being able to track your time via a mobile app can be convenient and easy, but is it a necessity?

Do you need to track your time on the go or are you office-based and able to use time tracking software on your computer?

Not all time tracking software is accessible through a mobile app; therefore, make sure you choose one that suits your needs.

Best 5 Time Tracking Software Options
Best 5 Time Tracking Software Options

Best 5 Time Tracking Software Options

1. Zoho Projects

Compatible with other software? Yes, including other Zoho apps, Google, Microsoft, Dropbox and Slack
Mobile app? Yes
Perfect for: Small to medium teams, especially remote

Zoho Projects is a cloud-based project management software with time tracking capabilities.

The free plan allows two projects to be mapped simultaneously, carries 10 MB storage and provides access for three users.

The two paid plans are called Premium and Enterprise:

  • The Premium plan costs $5 per user/month, allows unlimited projects, carries 100 GB storage and provides access for up to 50 users.

  • The Enterprise plan costs $10 per user/month for unlimited users and carries 120 GB of storage. Both the paid plans allow access to external users for $3 per client user/month.

Visit Zoho Projects

2. Toggl Track

Compatible with other software? Yes, including other Toggl apps, Google, Evernote, Trello, Xero and WordPress
Mobile app? Yes
Perfect for: Freelancers and business teams

Toggle Track is a straightforward time tracking software app with a calendar-based interface.

The free Toggl Track plan allows up to five users. There are three paid plans; Starter, Premium and Enterprise:

  • Starter: 30-day free trial, then $9 per user/month, for small teams
  • Premium: 30 days free trial, then $18 per user/month, for multiple teams
  • Enterprise: The cost for this plan will depend on the number of users and projects but allows unlimited users

Visit Toggl Track

3. RescueTime

Compatible with other software? Yes, including Microsoft, IFTTT, Google, Outlook and Slack
Mobile app? Yes
Perfect for: Freelancers or employees who do not need to report their hours to a manager

Rescue Time is a time tracking software that automatically tracks your work through the app you download to your computer, which also allows you to log blocks of time.

There is a free version of Rescue Time available, but the paid Premium plan offers much greater functionality.

The Premium plan costs $12/month or $78/year.

Rescue Time comes with a distraction blocker called FocusTime.

Visit RescueTime

4. Due Time Tracking

Compatible with other software? Yes, including Due apps, Microsoft, Google and PayPal
Mobile app? Yes
Perfect for: Freelancers and small businesses

Due Time Tracking links into the wider Due Billing. This lets you invoice clients and take payments.

There is a free Due Time Tracking plan and a paid Premium plan that costs $10 per month.

Along with your time tracking plan, due offer retirement and savings planning too.

Visit Due Time Tracking

5. Harvest

Compatible with other software? Yes, including Harvest apps, Quickbooks, Xero, Google, IFTTT, Trello, Outlook and Slack
Mobile app? Yes
Perfect for: Teams

Harvest is a time tracking software that links into a whole host of Harvest functions such as invoicing and reporting.

Harvest offers templates, guides, and a webinar to familiarise yourself and your team with the software.

There is a free version for one user and two active projects and a paid Pro plan which allows unlimited users and projects.

The cost for the Pro plan is $12 per user/month.

Visit Harvest

Final Thoughts

As a freelancer or team leader, time tracking software can make your life easier by removing the need to rely on memory.

It can provide useful business insights and even link into your invoicing system.

However, choosing the right time tracking software for you and your business requires that you ask the right questions:

  • What editing features do you require?
  • Do you want the software to create reports?
  • What software integration is necessary?
  • Do you want a free plan or a paid plan? If you want a paid plan, how much can you afford?
  • How many people will use the software, and how many simultaneous projects will be tracked?
  • Do you require a mobile app?

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