Must-Have Time Tracking Software Businesses Should Know About
We’ve all heard the saying “Time is money,” and I’m sure that while it’s an overused adage, it still rings true for many of us. In the modern workplace, each minute has a dollar value. That makes keeping accurate records of time spent on each task by employees and contractors critical for businesses.
Unfortunately, tracking employee hours can be a huge pain, both for employees and for managers. Sometimes, a simple punch card system does the trick, but these days, most businesses need something more robust.
Enter time tracking software apps! These apps can help employers and employees keep track of hours worked, schedule new hours, verify employee identity, analyze efficiency, and even track tasks.
We've done in-depth testing of each and confidently recommend them.
The thing is, as with most SaaS varieties these days, there is an overwhelming number of options out there. Fortunately, here at Merchant Maverick, we specialize in doing the kind of in-depth research you don’t have time to do. In this article, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite time tracking solutions. We’ll discuss the features included in each software program as well as pricing, available customer support, and integrations.
But before we get started, we’ll quickly review what time tracking software can do for you as well as the features you should look for. Let’s get started!
Other Featured Options:
- Toggl: Best for freelancers and SMBs that need to track billable time.
- ClockShark: Best for construction companies and contractors.
Read more below to learn why we chose these options.
Table of Contents
6 Ways Time Tracking Software Can Benefit Your Business
So why do you need time tracking software anyway? Here are the six key benefits of time tracking software:
1. Keep Employees Honest
Time tracking software requires employees to be honest with their time use. Employees and contractors punch in when they start work and punch out when they leave. There’s no need to track time on spreadsheets, which is easier for your employees and eliminates any rounding-up. Additionally, some time tracking apps take periodic screenshots of employees’ computers and track time spent on time-wasting sites, such as Facebook and YouTube.
2. Better Estimate How Much Time You Need For Future Projects
Keeping track of the amount of time previously spent on a task can help you estimate how much time you will need for a similar task in the future. This enables you to establish realistic project deadlines, and it can also help you determine how large a particular task will be.
3. Bill Clients Accurately
Time tracking software shows the amount of time spent on a project. This can help you explain to clients the breakdown of their bill, and it can help you adjust your rates for the future. Freelancers particularly like time tracking software since they can use it to show their work minute-by-minute.
4. Increase Productivity
Setting clear goals helps you and your employees stay on task! When you track time for each task, you stay more focused on working on just one thing at a time. You’ll be surprised by how much more you can accomplish when you aren’t multi-tasking!
5. Simplify Payroll
Time tracking software often includes features for payroll processing. All of your timesheets are already in the system; you just have to input employees’ hourly rates and approve hours. Many time tracking software can also calculate employees’ PTO. This helps employees track how much PTO they have available and request time off within the software.
6. Good For Employees
Not only is time tracking software good for you, but it’s good for your employees too! Employees can use time tracking software to demonstrate what they have achieved in a given period. That helps employees advocate for themselves when it comes to advancement.
What To Look For In Good Time Tracking Software
When it comes to choosing time tracking software, there are dozens of options out there. So how do you know which software is best? Here are some of the key factors to look for in good time tracking solutions.
- Ease of use
- Mobile apps
- Built-in time tracker
- Manual time entry
- Exportable timesheets
- Time tracking for individual tasks (not just a whole workday)
- Invoicing features
- User permissions
- Budgeting and forecasting tools
- Monitoring tools (screenshots, keystroke monitoring, GPS monitoring, photo check-in)
- Payroll features
- Built-in project management features
- Excellent customer support
- Integrations (especially with project management, payroll, and accounting software)
- Open API
- Reliable security
Best for businesses in retail and hospitality that need GPS verification features.
TSheets is a Boise-based time tracking and scheduling software designed with your employees in mind. One of TSheet’s main goals is to ensure that its dashboard and mobile apps are easy to use daily. What’s more, TSheets is a very affordable option for many businesses.
TSheets includes many of the features that businesses need for day-to-day time tracking. There are features for manual time entry, PTO management, and billing and invoicing. TSheets’s scheduling features allow you to create and manage employees’ shifts, and GPS features such as geofencing and GPS tracking eliminate costs related to buddy punching. TSheets’s kiosk features even allow you to use facial recognition to verify which employees are clocking in and out. Also, TSheets generates real-time reports, so you can keep track of who’s working and for how long. We’re also happy to see that TSheets offers live support to all its customers via phone and live chat.
Despite all these great features, TSheets also has its limitations. While TSheets is a great tool for tracking how many hours an employee works in a day, it isn’t a great tool for tracking how much time it takes to complete a specific task. If you want a detailed breakdown of how much time your employees spend on a particular task or project, you should look to a different solution (such as TimeDoctor or Timely). Additionally, TSheets does not offer any payroll features. However, it does allow you to export your timesheets to integrated payroll software — you just have to pay for that software separately. Finally, TSheets’s collection of integrations is on the smaller side. There are currently 38 integrations available, including popular accounting and project management options, such as Quickbooks Online, Xero, Sage, Asana, and Salesforce.
TSheets works best for small to mid-sized businesses that need an hourly record of their employees’ work but don’t necessarily need to track hours spent on individual tasks. Businesses in the retail and hospitality industries could particularly benefit from TSheets because of its included scheduling and GPS verification features.
Here are a few of TSheets’s best qualities:
- Ease of use
- GPS tracking and geolocation features
- Scheduling features included
TSheets offers just one pricing plan, which includes all of its features. This plan is available at two different rates, depending on if you choose to pay for the software on a month-to-month basis or if you pay for a full year upfront. On the monthly rate, TSheets costs $8/user/month, plus a $20/month flat fee. Opting for the annual rate saves you 20%. It costs $6.40/user/month, plus a $16/month flat fee. While TSheets used to offer its scheduling features at a separate cost, those are now included in this single plan.
TSheets also offers a 14-day trial, free of charge. Try it out for yourself or visit our review for more detailed information on TSheets.
Best for teams that need project management, time tracking, and invoicing features.
ProWorkflow is a New Zealand-based software, designed to simplify task and project management, communication, and time tracking. As a project management software, ProWorkflow includes many more features than merely time tracking. You can use ProWorkflow to plan projects, share documents, and collaborate with clients and contractors. We’re impressed by all of the features that ProWorkflow offers at its price point.
ProWorkflow lets users track their time spent on specific tasks and projects. You can go about tracking time with three different tools. First, you can track time in the ProWorkflow browser dashboard (featured in the screenshot above). If you prefer to avoid going online during your workday, there are also two widgets that you can use to track time. There’s the pared-down time tracker widget, and the other is the more feature-rich ProWorkflow desktop widget. ProWorkflow also offers mobile apps that you can use to track time from anywhere. And if you ever forget to track your time, you can always manually add time entries. We’re happy to see that ProWorkflow also offers invoicing tools (available at an additional cost) that you can use to create invoices directly from your timesheets. The pricing for the invoicing tools is a flat rate of $10/month, and we think they’re worth the additional expense.
As far as integrations go, ProWorkflow is less impressive. They offer seven free apps, which you can use to extend the software’s feature set as well as ten integrated software. These integrations primarily include accounting software and storage solutions, such as Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Google Drive, and Dropbox. Integration with Zapier further expands ProWorkflow’s available integrations. It also offers an API, which your developers can use to build more connections.
One area in which ProWorkflow excels in is customer support. ProWorkflow reportedly answers its customers’ questions with diligence and care (sometimes even creating personalized tutorial videos for its customers!). We’re blown away by ProWorkflow’s dedication to its customers.
We think ProWorkflow is great for a lot of businesses. The price per user is attainable for both small and large businesses. The software is especially suitable for industries that want to track time for individual tasks (and then generate invoices from those tasks). This software isn’t perfect for everyone, though. Businesses that need monitoring features, such as GPS tracking features or screenshots, should look elsewhere.
Here are a few of the pros of using ProWorkflow:
- Excellent customer support
- Time tracking for individual tasks
- Project management features included
ProWorkflow has three pricing plans to choose from. The lowest tier is the Solo plan at $10/user/month. The Solo plan includes just one user and lets you use 5GB of storage, 10 active projects, and a limited number of integrations. The next tier is the Professional plan, which is $20/user/month and includes multiple users. The Professional plan also gives you 25GB of storage and unlimited active projects. Finally, there’s the Advanced plan, which costs $30/user/month. To use this plan, you need to have at least five users. The Advanced plan gives you 50GB of storage and unlimited active projects. To save on these plans, you can pay for a whole year upfront and get a 10% discount.
ProWorkflow also has a couple of features that you can add on at an additional cost. If you want quoting features or invoicing features, you will pay a flat rate of $10/month for each feature set.
If you’re interested in ProWorkflow, we recommend signing up for a 14-day free trial of the software.
Timely Time Tracking App
Best for small to mid-size businesses that need precise, automatic time tracking.
Timely is a Norwegian-designed app that is attempting to re-define the industry. Capable of basic timesheets and scheduling, Timely also includes elements of project management software, allowing you to create and assign tasks. On the Business plan, you can also use a timeline view (aka a Gantt chart) to plan and schedule future tasks. We particularly like how you can view the amount of time spent on a specific task, no matter how many employees are working on that task. That gives project managers the information they need to plan future work.
More impressive, though, is the Memory feature. Memory is a downloadable app that automatically tracks the websites you use and the tasks you are working on. Then, it presents an interactive timeline that allows you to analyze exactly how you use your time. The timeline is available only to you; employers can’t view employees’ timelines. Timely’s automatic time tracking continues to learn and adapt based on your use.
Additionally, Timely offers a wide selection of integrations that you can use to automate your workflow and improve Timely’s functionality. There are 140+ integrations available, including tools for project management, communication, organization, accounting, and more.
The one downfall with Timely is its price. Timely’s plans start at $99/month for five seats, which is about two times more than you’ll pay for other time tracking software. What’s more, to access the project and team planning features (essentially, Timely’s Gantt chart), you have to be signed up for the more expensive Business plan. That said, Timely does include advanced features you won’t find elsewhere. Not only are there some project management features built-in, but its impressive Memory application could be a game-changer for some businesses. I would recommend Timely to small and mid-sized businesses that need accurate and precise time tracking. I think the software is a bit too expensive for startups and not quite comprehensive enough for large businesses.
Timely has lots of impressive features. Here are a few of the highlights:
- Automatic time tracking
- Gantt charts (available on on the Business plan)
- Track time spent on specific tasks (even across multiple users)
As I mentioned above, Timely is more expensive than other options on this list. Timely’s lowest-tier plan, Growth, starts at $99/month. Growth includes five seats (you can add more for $20 each), 50 active projects, and you can track computer activity, location, use of work apps, and time spent in meetings. Timely’s AI automatically categorizes this work. The next step up is the “Business” plan at $299/month. This plan includes 15 seats (you can add more for $19 each), unlimited active projects, and in-app support.
Additionally, you will get access to more administrative features, such as the ability to organize employees into teams, lock timesheets, and log time for others. This plan also includes project and team planning features (Timely’s Gantt chart). Timely also offers custom enterprise packages for teams of 25 and more. It has separate plans for individuals on the software, ranging from $7/month to $23/month.
On every plan (besides the custom enterprise plans), you can get a 10% discount by signing up for an annual purchase instead of month-to-month. We always recommend trying out the software in earnest for a couple of months before you commit to a yearly plan. And as always, we recommend that you sign up for Timely’s 14-day free trial before you pay a single cent for the software.
4. Time Doctor
Best for individuals who want to stay on task.
Time Doctor is a time tracking and team management tool that is currently used by 83,000 subscribers worldwide, including companies such as The Home Depot, Keller Williams Realty, and Apple. With such an impressive client base, Time Doctor must have something unique to offer. Time Doctor helps you keep track of your company’s time usage through task-based time tracking as well as monitoring tools, such as periodic screenshots and a “Potential Poor Time Use” report.
There are two main elements to Time Doctor’s software. The first element is the downloadable app that does the actual work of tracking your time. When you start work, you just type in the name of the task that you are working on and click “Go.” When you’ve finished working on that task, you just go back into the app and click on the next task in your daily plan. This app also works behind the scenes, keeping track of the time you spend on your most visited sites and apps. It can also track the amount of time you spend on potentially time-wasting sites, such as social media. The second element of Time Doctor is the online portal. In this portal, you can make manual adjustments to your hours, view reports, view (and delete) recorded screenshots, and alter your account details.
We like that Time Doctor allows project managers to create permanent tasks and track how much time multiple employees spend on each task. We also like that Time Doctor includes payroll features and the ability to set schedules for employees. Time Doctor isn’t perfect, however. There are still a few areas in which we’d like to see improvement. Currently, Time Doctor only offers support through email. We’d like to see Time Doctor add live chat or phone support. Also, Time Doctor only integrates with 22 apps. One of those apps is Zapier, which offers subscribers the ability to connect with hundreds of other software. However, we still think Time Doctor should work on expanding its integration selection.
Time Doctor is a great solution for companies that are looking for a way to monitor remote employees. Also, Time Doctor works well for individuals who are looking for a way to keep themselves accountable and on task.
Here are a few of the advantages of using Time Doctor:
- Ease of use
- Poor time use reports
- Track time spent on individual tasks
Time Doctor is priced simply at $9.99/user/month. This one price includes all of the features Time Doctor has to offer. You can also try out Time Doctor for yourself with a 14-day free trial, no credit card required.
Best for freelancers who need to track time and invoice clients.
Harvest‘s time-tracking software also includes features for invoicing and project management. This versatile software allows service-based companies to create project budgets, assign projects to team members, and track a project’s profitability. At the same, employees can use this software to track the time they spend on individual projects and tasks. Furthermore, Harvest offers a few invoicing features, although they seem a bit like add-ons. You can find much more robust invoicing features in dedicated invoicing software.
We’re happy to see that Harvest has dedicated reports for time tracking. You can see both an overview of time use and a more detailed breakdown of how employees are spending time. Additionally, you can view invoicing-related reports. We’re also pleased to see that Harvest offers support via phone and email and that they integrate with over 100 other apps and software (and there’s an open API available as well).
Although Harvest is a multifaceted software, some may find it to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Harvest offers many types of features, although not many of them are very in-depth. Harvest has no automatic time tracking features, and the invoicing features tend to be a bit limited. Its contact management and expense-tracking features are very basic, and there are no live bank feeds. However, if that doesn’t put you off, it’s worth trying out.
I would recommend Harvest specifically to service-based companies, and particularly to freelancers who need a convenient way to track time and invoice clients. At $12/user/month, freelancers will find Harvest to be a very affordable solution.
Take a look at some of Harvest’s strengths:
- Ease of use
- Free plan
- Includes invoicing and project management features
Harvest is different from many of the software on this list as it offers a limited free plan. This free plan comes with all the features of the paid plan; it just limits you to one user and two projects. Included features are unlimited invoices, unlimited estimates, unlimited clients, basic expense tracking, project management, time tracking, reports, and 100+ integrations. To access unlimited projects and users, you have to upgrade to the Pro plan at $12/user/month.
Fortunately, with Harvest, there are several ways you can get a discount. If you purchase the software a year in advance, you’ll get a 10% discount, and if your company includes 50+ users, that discount goes up to 15%. Nonprofits and educational organizations get 15% off monthly subscriptions or 25% off annual subscriptions, and classroom teachers get the software for free. Finally, if you subscribe to both Harvest and its other product, Forecast, you’ll get a discount of 10% off monthly plans and 20% off an annual purchase. Harvest also offers a 30-day free trial, so you can try the software out at no risk.
Best for freelancers and SMBs that need to track billable time.
Toggl is an Estonian time tracking software that was created and released in 2006. Just ten years later, this software had grown to an impressive 1.6 million registered users based in the US, the UK, Japan, Canada, Germany, and Australia. Toggl gives users the ability to track the time they spend on individual tasks through a desktop application, a mobile app, or even a Chrome extension.
Toggl offers basic time tracking features, such as the ability to manually enter time, add billable rates, and view reports of time usage. You can also use a calendar integration to track your calendar events as time entries. Furthermore, some users have access to advanced features. These include more detailed insights, a team dashboard showing team members’ tasks and time entries, and alerts for when you are taking more time on a task than was budgeted. Toggl also integrates with over 100 applications. Some of these integrations add the Toggl button to your integrated software, allowing you to track time without navigating away from the task at hand. Integrations include tools for web development, project management, content management, and more.
Toggl provides a few ways to access technical support. You can use the knowledgebase and blog to look for answers yourself, or you can request assistance via web ticket or email. If you’re looking for dedicated support, you can pay to access a “Toggl Master” (essentially, an account manager). Pricing for a Toggl Master ranges from $95 – $600.
We love how easy it is to use Toggl, and it earns extra points for offering a free version of the software (more on pricing below). However, Toggl isn’t a perfect solution for everyone. Compared to many other options in this list, Toggle is a bit limited. There are no automation features and no keystroke or GPS monitoring tools. That makes Toggl a solution only for businesses that do not need to track employees’ actions and locations closely. Plus, it will require some effort to get all team members on board with using the software consistently. That said, we think Toggl is an excellent solution for freelancers and SMBs, especially those who need to track their billable hours.
Take a look at some of the advantages of using Toggl:
- Ease of use
- Free version
- Track individual tasks
- Deep integrations
You’ll be happy to know that Toggl offers a free plan (its Basic plan) for teams of five people or fewer. This free plan includes time tracking, timeline features, and the ability to create teams. You also get limited reports and limited team and project management features. Paid plans begin with the Starter plan at $10/user/month. All paid plans include unlimited users and allow you to track time, generate reports for billable rates, and create time estimates for projects and tasks. The next step up is the Premium plan at $20/user/month. The Premium plan adds advanced features, such as time audits and the ability to edit team members’ profiles. Finally, there’s the Enterprise plan, which includes all premium features and priority support. Pricing is customized to each business. In addition to all this, Toggl offers a 10% discount on its paid plans when you choose to pay for a full year upfront. Finally, there is a 30-day free trial, which you can use to test the software for yourself risk-free.
Best for construction companies and contractors.
ClockShark is a unique time tracking solution designed specifically with construction workers and contractors in mind. This software is meant to simplify timesheets and payroll for businesses in which employees work at multiple locations throughout the day.
ClockShark’s main features include geolocation capabilities, which allow employers to view an employee’s locations throughout a shift. This software also allows users to clock in on their mobile devices and select the name of the job (often the name of the worksite) and a specific task (such as groundwork or repairs). When the employee clocks out, they can leave a comment or attach a photo to the record of that work period. On higher-level plans, ClockShark also gives employers tools to create work schedules for multiple departments and locations.
ClockShark has pre-built integrations with Quickbooks, ADP, Sage, Xero, and Zapier. While this is undoubtedly a small set of integrations, we also recognize that connecting with Zapier allows for connections with hundreds of additional applications. To access any integrations, you need to be on the Standard plan or higher.
For merchants based in the US and Canada, support is available seven days a week via phone and live chat. International merchants can only access support via web ticket and email support (these options are also available to US and Canadian merchants). Additionally, ClockShark provides a well-maintained Help Center as well as webinars, infographics, calculator tools, and guides.
ClockShark markets itself primarily to construction companies, and we think that industry best fits with ClockShark’s capabilities.
Here are a few of the pros of using ClockShark:
- GPS tracking
- Good for construction businesses
- Integrates with accounting software
When you sign up for ClockShark, you have three paid plans to choose from. All plans charge a monthly base fee in addition to a cost per user per month. The most inexpensive plan is the Basic plan at $3/user/month + a $15/month base fee. The Basic plan gives users time and attendance tracking as well as GPS tracking features. The next plan is Standard, which costs $5/user/month + a $25/month base fee. This plan adds advanced GPS tracking, drag-and-drop scheduling, and the ability to use third-party integrations. Finally, there’s the Pro plan at $8/user/month+ a $45/month base fee. On this highest-level plan, you’ll have access to everything, including PTO policies and requests, advanced job costing controls, and multi-department and multi-office controls.
ClockShark offers a discount if you choose to pay for a full year upfront. With the annual plan, you get two months for free. There are also discounts available for nonprofits, although you’ll have to contact ClockShark directly to find out if you qualify. Finally, you can access the software for free with a 14-day trial of the program. ClockShark also says that if these first 14 days aren’t enough to decide on the software, it can extend that trial out for more time. If you manage a construction business, ClockShark is definitely worth checking out!
How To Choose The Right Time Tracking Software
As you work on selecting a time tracking software solution, you’ll need to consider your business’s needs. Do you just need to track employee hours for payroll? Or are you looking for task-specific time tracking software to make project management more effective? You’ll also need to take into account any monitoring tools you may need, such as geolocation tools, keystroke monitoring, and screenshot capturing. Different tools have different strengths, and knowing your priorities can help narrow the field.
The best way to begin the decision-making process is to make a list of all the qualities you need from a time tracking software. In your list, be sure to include the following:
- Necessary features (track time by task, view reports for the whole team, mobile apps to clock in and out, etc.)
- Your monthly budget for the software (it might also be useful to calculate a per-person budget since many software are priced per user)
- Important integrations (accounting software, payroll software, project management software)
Once you have your list of must-haves, go through this list again and note any apps that seem interesting. We always recommend signing up for a free trial of any software you are considering. Often it only takes a minute to set up a trial, and most of the time, you do not need to hand over any credit card information to do so. Then, put each software through its paces. Add employees and ask a small team to start using the software to track their time. This real-life implementation can quickly reveal whether or not that software will work for your business.
So go create your list, sign up for a trial or two, and get testing! You’ll be sure to find the right time tracking tool for your business in no time!
We've done in-depth testing of each and confidently recommend them.
In Summary: Best Time Tracking Software For Small Businesses
- QuickBooks Time: Best for businesses in retail and hospitality that need GPS verification features.
- ProWorkflow: Best for teams that need project management, time tracking, and invoicing features.
- Timely Time Tracking App: Best for small to mid-size businesses that need precise, automatic time tracking.
- Time Doctor: Best for individuals who want to stay on task.
- Harvest: Best for freelancers who need to track time and invoice clients.
- Toggl: Best for freelancers and SMBs that need to track billable time.
- ClockShark: Best for construction companies and contractors.