Guide to Switching From Manual to Automated Time Tracking

When considering the transition from manual to automated time and attendance systems, the process and options can often seem confusing and overwhelming at first.

Regardless of your requirements, company size, or goals, though, automating your time and attendance processes will simplify procedures, eliminate errors, and provide savings for years to come.

Like anything, planning a time and attendance initiative is easier with a guide. This article outlines several steps for planning the transition to automated time and attendance systems while providing many tips to help you along the way.

Preparation & Team-Building

Regardless of your company size, it is recommended to form a decision-making team to determine requirements, identify areas that could be improved from automation, and select the best solution.

A representative from each major business unit or department should be involved to ensure you choose a comprehensive solution that will satisfy the needs of every department. Typically, a project leader is also chosen to spearhead the project; often the head of HR or IT.

We recommend first preparing for the transition by having each team member evaluate the current time and attendance solution, discussing desired functionality versus limitations. This process will help you determine the requirements for your automated time and attendance system.

Once you’ve compiled the evaluations from your team members, you can assemble a preliminary list of requirements and identify which are critical versus optional.

Research & Planning

A crucial stage when transitioning to automated time and attendance systems, the research process should be comprehensive and in-depth. All vendors are different, offering diverse solutions with several deployment options and dissimilar pricing models.

While it’s not expected to master the complexities of every aspect of time and attendance deployment, we highly recommend taking note of the features, integration methods, hardware options, and other considerations that speak to your requirements.

The research process will also help eliminate potential vendors early-on because you’ll quickly find certain vendors’ products or deployment methods that do not fit your requirements or business objectives.

Basic Considerations

There are many basic considerations when transitioning to automated time and attendance systems that are independent of vendor. In other words, regardless of what solution you choose, the following considerations should be universal. And if a vendor doesn’t offer one of these universal considerations – and you consider it to be critical – there are always more vendors out there.

  • Licensed Software VS Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
    Time and attendance software has evolved to the point where there should not be significant functionality discrepancies between licensed and SaaS deployments. All of the features available in the licensed version will be available in the SaaS version, and vice-versa. The criteria for choosing one over the other include corporate data policies (prohibiting SaaS deployment), pricing structures, automatic updates (typically only applying to SaaS models), and uptime requirements (will your internal IT staff manage the system better than the provider?).
  • Data Collection Methods
    Every company is different. Some companies consist almost entirely of mobile employees requiring a telephony time and attendance solution while others want traditional employee time clocks. Others may want web-based clocking only. Experienced vendors offer a multitude of data collection methods to accommodate nearly any requirement. Acumen’s time and attendance software is compatible with nearly every data collection device, including employee time clocks, mobile devices, and smartphones.
  • Integration Considerations
    It’s a plain and simple fact that some time and attendance systems just do not interoperate and synchronize with other select business systems. If you have an obscure payroll or ERP system, then, and require integration with your time and attendance system, it is easy to identify potential vendors – and eliminate those that cannot integrate smoothly with your existing systems. Learn about the integration capabilities of Acumen’s time and attendance software with payroll systems and ERP / manufacturing systems.
  • Complementary Products & Services
    Employee time and attendance is part of a larger HR management suite that includes payroll systems, time and attendance, employee scheduling, employee self-service, facility access control, and other systems. It is far more convenient to manage these tasks from one central system instead of several disparate systems – each of which featuring another learning curve. Learn about Acumen’s complementary products and services.
  • Regulatory Compliance
    Certain requirements may be mandated in order to ensure compliance with certain regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, FairPay Rules, and the Fair Labor Standards Act. It’s important to understand your company’s responsibilities regarding regulatory compliance and workforce management.
  • Functionality
    Many functionality considerations make vendor selection easy – either the vendor offers a function you require or they don’t. Some of these functionality considerations include biometric clocking, real-time functionality, advanced payment capabilities, advanced benefit accruals, task tracking, employee scheduling, labor costing, minor employee management, and more.


Instead of asking internal management for a budget, we recommend completing a return on investment (ROI) analysis first. If you haven’t researched the return on investment for time and attendance systems, you may be surprised. Acumen’s time and attendance systems pay for themselves within months thanks to the elimination of errors, automation of business processes, and the elimination of employee overpayment. Learn more about the ROI for Acumen’s time and attendance systems.

Armed with return on investment information, your team can then present recommendations to management. Certain desired functionality can drastically inflate costs when the feature is rarely found in time and attendance systems, so it may be best to present options to management.

Vendor Selection

It’s important to note that purchasing a time and attendance system is just the beginning of a long relationship. If you question the practices or follow-up during the sales process, it is not encouraging for down-the-road support.

Conclusion: Transitioning from Manual to Automated Time & Attendance

Much of the stress involved with transitioning from manual time and attendance processes to automated systems is caused by uncertainty. With a better understanding of automated systems, purchase criteria involved, options, and features, you’ll be much better prepared and much more confident in your selection.

For more advice about transitioning to automated time and attendance systems, please contact us.