HR personnel typically need diverse tools to assist them in order to effectively manage employees, maximize profits and minimize avoidable waste. Time and attendance software is a business application designed to improve the HR department’s efficiency in monitoring and analyzing employee attendance and time records. In addition, the software keeps accurate record of wages and salaries paid to each employee, regardless of the size of the company. Most of this software has replaced the old ways of managing workers’ time and attendance.
With this new technology, management can now accurately track the exact hours each employee spent on the job. The software can generate, maintain, and store payroll data and important tax information. Management can use this information to better plan for projects, evaluate staff expenses, and improve efficiency. While the features and benefits are obvious, some business managers have yet to try out the software, perhaps due to their lack of knowledge about it and/or concerns over the cost of the various packages.
Of course, investing in such a resource does require a cost and benefit analysis, taking into account the business’ finances, its structure, costs, vendor services and regulatory compliance. With this in mind, you should be able to make an informed decision as to whether or not this type of software would benefit your business
One of the most important factors that any business must take into account before purchasing a technological product is the overall price. As you would expect, prices will vary according to the features of a product, the duration of the warranty, and other various maintenance costs. It is, therefore, very important you be aware that, while some vendors will offer you affordable prices upfront, they may not necessarily make note of “hidden” costs. In other words, understand that the vendor’s upfront price may not be your final price.
A software price will normally be determined by its hosting and number of users. The more users a company has, the less cost per employee it should expect. On the hosting side, premises-based and hosted systems are usually made up of a singular upfront price, while cloud-based system users pay a monthly fee. Most providers’ fees range from $2 to $10 per employee per month. Others will have a basic fee of between $20 to $100 a month, depending on the number of company employees. Companies with over 50 employees can usually negotiate for a better deal and get a customized price structure.
There are many popular names to choose from in time and attendance software, with the list price of the initial installation generally under $700. However, those names which come with the highest recommendations and reviews are typically more costly, starting at $800, plus a monthly fee for each employee.
Regardless of choice, the initial outlay for the software is expected to pay for itself over a year. One analysis suggests that a time and attendance system can save a company more than 2% of employees’ salary. For example, let’s consider a company with more than 20 employees, each earning a gross salary of $20,000; that would amount to a savings of over $8,000 in the first year alone.
While every company’s savings would be different as a result of varying parameters, the analysis suggests that a quality and viable system can pay for itself within a year and save a significant amount of time and money and resources in subsequent years.
Benefits of Time and Attendance Software
Most businesses can expect to see some, if not most, of the following tangible benefits simply from using time and attendance software.
- Updated Data – The software allows businesses to track, record and monitor data in real-time, thus making it easier for the integration of data with other systems, such as financial and HR management systems. Used together, that goes a long way in the effective management of the company.
- High Degree of Accuracy – The automation of the time and attendance process minimizes, or in some cases, eliminates human error in accounting, and provides management and regulatory agencies with accurate information regarding the hours worked by each employee. The accuracy of the data translates to a more dependable payroll system.
- Self Service to Employees – The system not only provides data to the employers but also allow employees to log in and check the number of hours and days they have worked, wages and salaries paid, including overtime and, in some cases, vacation, personal and sick day benefits accrued, as well as their assigned work schedules.
- Improved Productivity – The software’s ability to collect, monitor, and analyze data makes it easier for management to improve efficiency, productivity and profitability. Without the use of this software it would be very difficult for management to track employees’ productivity and find ways to improve it if, indeed, there are issues to be addressed.
- Overtime Calculation – Most employees look forward to working overtime because of the extra amount paid per hour. HR staff generally don’t share that same sentiment, as calculating overtime payroll hours is often a challenge, given the varying pay and overtime rates, terms and conditions, etc. Fortunately, automated time and attendance software can do the heavy lifting and accurately calculate employees’ overtime hours and pay.
- Useful in Ensuring Health and Safety – Federal and state labor laws protect employees by mandating breaks for meals or rest after a certain number of hours have been worked in a day. Essentially, it is unlawful to require that an employee work a full shift without a break. Employers may find this requirement a challenge, but with the software, they can ensure compliance with the various labor laws to ensure the health and safety of their employees.
- The Software Saves Time – The traditional punch card system took a lot of time to register and process; research has shown that each punch card user will spend 6 to 7 minutes punching in and out of work on any given day. For businesses with a large number of employees, those minutes can add up to a significant loss in productive time. The time and attendance software eliminates this time loss so that workers are able to concentrate on other responsibilities.
- Expected Rise in Employee Satisfaction – The old error-prone ways of recording payroll hours and pay was a concern to many employees who felt they were underpaid for their time. With the new technology, the workers are confident that they are receiving accurate pay for the hours worked.
Ease of Use – Most time and attendance systems were designed to maximize and optimize the user experience. A user-friendly interface is when the user’s goals, tasks and requirements are all met. This means that users can log in and out and access information with ease. Some vendors have mobile apps that can allow users to check in from anywhere in the world, at any time. This has been useful for off-the-desk employees and remote workers who can have their work data recorded at ease.
What to Consider Before Opting For a Software Package
Pricing is an integral part of any business decision. When it comes to buying a software product, however, it is not the only factor in deciding which to buy. Buying a more expensive software, with a long list of extra features, may not necessarily be the appropriate decision. It is important that you choose a software package that employees can adapt to quickly and easily. Following is a summary of package requirements that you might want to consider before choosing time and attendance software.
Legal Compliance – Mandatory labor laws on minimal rest breaks and maximum working hours should be a top consideration for any employer. Compliance of the mandatory laws should influence your decision, thus the software should have features to monitor and record employee data.
Mobile Optimization – Technological advancements have made it possible for the use of mobile systems. Especially if you have remote workers or staff that are often in the field, the software you buy should have mobile capabilities so that employees can record their time and attendance data from different locations or time zones.
Self Service – Not all time and attendance software is designed to provide self service access to your employees. It is advisable to opt for software that provides this feature, as allowing your employees to access their own records has proven to be effective and useful in the long run.
System Integration and Automation – Although the technology is still somewhat in its infancy, some vendors have been able to design software that can make it possible for an organization to integrate their time and attendance controls with other systems such as manufacturing, production and banking environments. This means effective control across these systems and tracking of the workforce productivity, thus ensuring more savings over time.
User Experience – Before making a decision on the best software and provider, you should consider a test drive to ensure that the software is robust, intuitive and user-friendly. Buying a complex software system that takes a significant amount of time to adapt to may not be the best course of action.
Vendor Services – Your first decision is to figure out what it is that you really want out of your time and attendance software. Then, determine which software vendors offer exactly that. Check out the prospective vendor’s stability and credentials, and ask for references and testimonials; you want to know what other end users have to say about the product. Also, find out how often the software is upgraded or new releases are issued; you want a vendor that is always looking to improve the software, and which quickly addresses any problems or bugs with the system. It is also imperative to understand their software customization, scalabilty and hosting conditions. Also read their terms on customization and integration support to ensure that help is readily available in case of an error or compatibility issue. You want to know if the vendor offers software training and support; those which do not are very likely to have inferior customer service support. Lastly, their software maintenance terms and conditions should be favorable and not add an extra burden to the business. Avoid providers with unclear maintenance terms, as they are more likely to carry hidden charges. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details—be aware.
Basic Features of Time and Attendance Software
Clocking Features – This is the most obvious and basic feature of any time and attendance software. It allows an employee to clock in and out of work while keeping their record of time. With some software systems, workers log in or out through time clocks, browser windows and/or a dedicated application while other software may include alternative options such as magnetic cards, fingerprint, and/or facial recognition.
Employee Scheduling – Some advanced systems allow HR departments to design schedules and shifts for their employees. Through the clocking features, the management can organize the workers for individual and group tasks.
Alert and Notification Features – Several software solutions come with email or text alerts. These alerts generally notify an employer if a worker arrives late, works overtime, or leaves early. This feature has been described as resource-saving as it also alerts management about employees who have almost completed their normal working hours and are about to start overtime. This gives managers the chance to make a decision as to whether or not to let the worker proceed into overtime hours or else clock out.
Absence Management – Absences come in different forms; urgency, sickness or, injury. The software feature is designed to control and expose uninformed, unscheduled or excessive absenteeism. Absence management is an important element in assessing employee productivity or the potential abuse by a worker.
Job Trackers – This is a new feature among the advanced time and attendance systems. It allows project managers to assess how long a worker logged in and worked on a specific project. Such a feature can be a bonus for companies that charge clients depending on how long they have worked on a given task; this is common in consulting and legal environments.
Time off Features – Paid time off management is a challenge for many businesses. Newer systems have developed software packages that allow employers to monitor “time off” accruals while simultaneously allowing employees to submit paid time off requests. Through the software, a manager can accept or reject the request and notify the requester on the decision.
Payroll – Today, almost all systems will have the technology to integrate the time and attendance data to the payroll function. This has meant a more faster and accurate calculation and payment of salaries. Retirement and other benefits are also included in the new integrated platform.
Detailed Reporting – The software is designed to provide the user with detailed data on workers’ attendance records, staffing levels, scheduling and performance. This detailed report can presented in the form of tables, graphs and charts. Other software vendors may also provide a financial report and activity map, empowering management with enough data to improve the company’s productivity.
Break Time Tracking – Not all time and attendance software has this feature; however, the latest software versions are being designed to incorporate this feature because companies have identified the need to track and record break time hours during a working day. The software has a feature that allows and records workers who clock in and out multiple times in a day.
Biometric Attendance Registry – The old punch card and register systems have always allowed for human errors or loopholes in the system. While human error may or may not be intentional, loopholes can allow workers to exploit the system; one such loophole is “buddy punching,” an unacceptable and fraudulent behavior in almost all working environments. With biometric fingerprints, this problem has essentially been eradicated. This registry has also been found to be compatible with most HR software. This new feature is another which can save valuable resources, as the probability that a worker can commit fraud in this manner has been eliminated. When an employee leaves the company, the IT department will only need to delete their biometric information from the system. The same would apply in the event of a new employee, where their biometric data is collected and used to monitor their time and attendance records.
Cost Estimators – This feature is important for project managers who want to estimate time and wages figures associated with a particular project. Some advanced systems will be able to to forecast resources needed using historical information to predict project estimates.
If your business only employs a handful of workers, time and attendance software is probably not needed. However, if your staffing needs start out in the double digits or are considerably more, you will likely find this software a tremendous benefit in many, many ways. While the initial cost can be intimidating, statistically a business is able to recoup that cost within a year’s time, though monthly rates or per-employee fees should also be a consideration. Overall, the larger your business and the higher the number of workers, the greater the benefit you will derive from this software. From a time-saving benefit at its most basic, to the elimination of potential fraudulent activities by workers, to long-term cost savings through accurate wages and salaries calculations—not to mention improved efficiency and productivity—it is clear that time and attendance software is a valuable and worthwhile expenditure.