What Is Time and Attendance Software? - two workers reviewing data on tablet in a clothing store

What is Time and Attendance Software?

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Simplifying time tracking through innovative and automated attendance systems

Small and large businesses have a variety of platforms, applications, and software programs to choose from when it comes to effective business operations. Software programs exist for all sides of business, including accounting projects and accounting systems, customer relationship management and customer experience systems, and sales projection tools. As technology develops to meet business needs, the integration of software so that programs can be an all-in-one solution is more commonplace.

More and more, small business leaders are considering adding software specifically designed to be an attendance solution with the ability to analyze labor costs and metrics, eliminate human errors made during payroll processing, and to centralize all timekeeping and workforce management data. Attendance management systems are far more advanced than simply tracking employee attendance. In fact, time and attendance software now offer dynamic functionality options that help employers manage needs in human resources (HR), including benefits administration and tracking work hours and time off.

This article will define time and attendance software, describe the features and functions of time and attendance software, outline the different types of time and attendance software, and review the pros and cons of implementing this type of software at your company. Whether considering this software as a payroll solution or a general tracking system, there is a major value add in implementing time and attendance software in your overall business processes.

What is time and attendance software?

Time and attendance software is a software system that helps management track hours worked and shift trends for their team of employees. Traditionally, time and attendance has been tracked through a punch clock where employees would clock in at the beginning of their shift and clock out at the end of their shift. For some companies, employees would keep punch cards that they would use to track their total hours worked.

Modern time and attendance software still utilizes the function of clocking in and clocking out; however, the punch clock is digital and accessible through most types of systems, whether a web browser, a phone application for smartphone access, or through a computer-based clock. The increased accessibility allows for employers to trust that the calculations will be accurate and reflect the total hours worked in a given period. Instead of having to make these calculations by hand, employers are able to view each employee's time cards for a given period and have all labor costs automatically generated. This way, employers have a real-time picture of the hours worked, the shifts being taken, and overall needs for compensation.

For employers that utilize scheduling for specific shifts, time and attendance software often comes with a feature for employees and employers to make updates, requests, or changes to a schedule. With access to a schedule, employees can more easily communicate to their supervisor their preferences for an alternate work schedule so that the employer can adjust the schedule in real-time. For example, if an employee wants to request time off, they can relay that information to their manager, and then can be scheduled for shifts outside of the requested time off period. Moreover, employees and their respective supervisors can see how much paid time off (PTO) is available for each employee at any given time so vacations can be planned out in advance.

The best time and attendance software can support managers in using time data to support other important work-based calculations, including wages, taxes, PTO, and other payroll metrics. Software that operates as a tracking system often includes the option for integration with an HR software platform so that time sheets, time clocks, employee scheduling, and accruals can be streamlined together for information that is needed for issuing paychecks and monitoring overall employee data.

Businesses of all sizes can benefit from time and attendance software because businesses can minimize errors while improving their time management. Reports and records can be generated and maintained in a secure place should the business ever need to reference the information in the future.

The next section of this article outlines the key features of time and attendance software, especially key functions that can support your organizational and business needs.

Key features of time and attendance software

The most important feature of time and attendance software will depend on what your company is looking for and what your company needs from a staffing and workday perspective. Time and attendance solutions offer a variety of methods for how to track time, whether through a self-service platform on a mobile device, like an android, a mobile app, or any other human resources management software.

However, when looking to streamline attendance tracking with existing tools at your business, you may want to consider the most common features and their value proposition for your business operation. Of all the features that are offered in software for time management systems, the most important features are outlined below.

  • Tracking employee hours. Time tracking is the most fundamental piece of any type of time and attendance tracking software. Through this feature, management can oversee the hours worked by employees, including times that they have started and ended work. Calculations for total hours worked can be completed through automated time tracking systems. Moreover, time and attendance software may offer additional security protections for clocking in to avoid time theft or buddy punching. For some systems, facial recognition may be required in order to complete your clock-in process. Or, geolocation of the employee at the time of clocking in can be monitored. This way, the employee must be physically present in order for the system to complete the clock-in authorization.
  • Tracking wages paid to employees. Whether tracking time for salaried or hourly employees, tracking wages can help a business assess the job costs for each position in the company. Having a strong sense of the wages being paid out shows where the bulk of prioritization is for the company and if any changes need to be made to the company structure. For example, shifting employees to another team with different job responsibilities or incentivizing the work done by employees through raises or bonuses. Employees can have access to their earnings and benefit from the transparency of knowing total earnings, taxes paid out, and earnings over any time period selected. All of this data can be exported to a payroll system or payroll software so that the entire payroll process is streamlined.
  • Scheduling optimization. As discussed, one of the most enticing features about time and attendance software is the ability to integrate scheduling features for managers and employees alike. In addition to improved communication, managers can better predict the overall workflows based on the staff who are scheduled to work on a particular day. Schedules can be accessed through a multitude of platforms, whether a web browser, mobile device, or even a kiosk that employees use on-site.
  • Automate payroll processes. One of the more complex aspects of business operations, particularly for small businesses, is payroll. When you adopt a system that can automate the data needed for payroll, you are supporting the payroll part of your team, ensuring that they have more time to spend on other payroll tasks and human resources needs.
  • Comply with business regulations. Software systems for time and attendance are often designed with labor laws and regulations in mind. As such, these systems may be able to monitor the amount of times your employees are taking breaks, ensuring they are getting adequate rest from work and that your company is in compliance with employer regulatory agencies. Consider reaching out to other businesses and business networks to learn what tools they have used and how those tools have helped them remain in compliance with their hiring and internal employment management processes.
  • Data & analytics. Instead of manually updating and keeping detailed spreadsheets, software systems for time tracking are able to generate reports based on criteria that are most important for you and your management team. For example, if you would like to know more about the hours each employee has worked, a report can be generated for this. Or, if you'd like to know how much time off employees are taking during a given time period, this is also information that can be pulled from the analytics features in attendance tracking software systems. Reports can be generated in seconds, providing you real-time data to incorporate into your company’s long-term strategy.

What are the different types of time and attendance software?

The increase of the different tools and systems to help businesses track time and attendance of employees has been quickly changing. There are several options for how your time tracking solution will operate. It is important to consider all of the options with time and attendance software as you determine the right one for your small business. Here are some options to consider:

  • Time cards. Time cards are a more traditional aspect to integrate with modern software. Each employee could be assigned a card to swipe or tap upon arrival at their job. The data would be stored within the software and available for managerial reporting or submitting to HR’s payroll software each pay period.
  • Badges. Badges are another way to support time tracking software. Each employee would have a badge that contains relevant employee information. Upon clocking in, the badge would generate a geolocation or confirm their location on-site through facial recognition. The badge option for software functions well for companies that have many employees or teams that work on-site. Badges may also include other employee information or provide additional access to other offices or spaces at a particular location.
  • Biometrics. Biometrics do not only include facial recognition software. In fact, other biometric data, like fingerprints, can be a way that companies allow for employees to report the start of their work day. Biometric options reduce the likelihood for time theft and make clocking-in easy as there’s no need to carry around a card or a badge. Voice recognition software is another component of biometrics that can change the way employees clock in. As the name suggests, voice recognition systems validate the employee's clock-in through the recognition of the employee's voice. If another person attempts to clock in, the system will not authorize it.
  • Web-based login. Web-based log-in systems function well for employees who work remotely or off-site. As their work day begins, employees access their employer’s website to indicate they are starting their work. Web-based logins are easy to use and accessible, but don't necessarily offer the same features as other biometric integrations.

What are the pros and cons of time and attendance software?

The pros of time and attendance software
  • Less human error. One of the primary benefits of automated software systems is the reduction in manual errors during complex calculations. Technology also reduces the likelihood that numbers can be changed after they have already been reported.
  • Automate manual processes. Automation is one of the strongest benefits of introducing technology into your business operations. Your employees are then free to spend more of their time on other tasks, for example, building customer relationships, because they know that other aspects of their job duties are either being worked on through automation, or are completed.
  • Accuracy & efficiency. Quite simply, using a software platform for attendance tracking saves your business time. You can rely on the data being tracked and use the data for larger business analysis needs. For companies with multiple employees, you may be able to identify key trends in your workforce and areas of need for future employees.
  • Integration with other systems. As mentioned, there is a wide variety of capability with time and attendance software. Time data offers a lot of context and importance to other parts of business operation, so this is a major reason why many businesses decide to implement software that has integrative capabilities. When selecting the right product for your business, you may want to explore specific features the time tracking solution offers with regards to additional software integration functions.
The cons of time and attendance software
  • Cost. Integrating time and attendance software at your company is an investment toward more efficient operations. However, this type of software has a wide range of costs, and so it is important that your business determines an appropriate budget for software investment and consider pricing as you make your software selection. Some software companies require a one-time fee, while others require a monthly fee to use their service platform.
  • Errors. Even though human error is minimized through the use of software, errors cannot be completely eliminated. There may be errors in the input of data or inconsistencies for when employees clock out (for example, if they are using self-service and forget to clock out at the end of their shift). It is important for businesses to recognize that software can still result in errors or mistakes and that audits or additional reviews of time and attendance data may be necessary.

Heartland is ready to help. 

Are you ready to implement the best management system for employee time and attendance tracking and overall time management at your business? Are you ready to improve payroll systems through streamlining scheduling software, punch clocks, and time tracking software? Are you considering the benefits of modern technology, like biometrics, for your time tracking needs?

Heartland helps nearly 1,000,000 entrepreneurs make and move money, manage employees and engage customers with human-centered technology solutions that allow them to rise above the daily grind and lead their businesses into a brighter future. Learn more at heartland.us.