It’s Time to Upgrade your Timekeeping Software Solution
Let’s face it: buying new time and attendance software and associated hardware is an investment in your company’s future. It’s something you don’t do on a large scale very often. In fact, the time and attendance system you buy today will likely be used for more than a decade. Being sure you found the right system for your business is essential.
There are any number of reasons you might be looking to invest in a new time and attendance system. For most of the 20th century, businesses have been using uncertain and outdated methods, like adding up their employees’ time cards, turning in time sheets, or simply using the honor system. Other businesses have more recently invested in an automated time and attendance solution, but maybe one that no longer meets your company’s evolving needs.
When you look to replace a broken or outdated system, many people default to the system they have been using rather than demanding a more customizable, innovative solution. Initially, you might think that replacing the system will be too expensive, time-consuming and painful.
The mentality of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” might seem to work well as a cost saving measure, but it prevents your business from finding new efficiencies, provably reducing costs from time and attendance errors, and expanding it’s toolbox to meet growing needs.
So before you get caught in a rut or sign a purchase order for the newer version of your same old time clock and software, ask yourself this:
“What do I need to know before buying a time and attendance software system?”
In this multi-part guide, we’ll answer that very question and many others. We’ll discuss reasons why traditional time clocks are no longer the best choice, introduce you to the benefits of a variety of solutions from SaaS to cloud-based smart clocks, and highlight questions and issues you’ll need to know as you embark on your search for a time and attendance system that’s perfect for your unique application.
Getting it Right the First Time
There’s a lot to consider- everything from functionality to interoperability to cost must be weighed carefully.
One basic rule of thumb any company can rely on is that if you need anything beyond basic functionality, if you need true automation, or complete system integration, free software is not going to suffice. Not to mention many of these systems are little better than using a spreadsheet to manage time and attendance.
Whether you’re at the enterprise level or an emerging business, the purchase process is relatively similar- though it may include greater or less detail. A large company probably requires functionality and interoperability that would go beyond the scope of a small deployment.
What Type of Buyer Are You?
If you’re looking for employee time tracking software, you may want to consider some of the other features that may be beneficial to you. Generally speaking, time and attendance tracking software buyers fall into one of the following categories:
• HR departments. Time and attendance management could be one of many functions you need: your ideal system might include benefits admin, applicant tracking, employee education, and many other features HR professionals will find useful.
• Workforce administration. This is where smaller buyers typically find themselves. Your company has grown, but you haven’t quite reached the level where you need a complete human resources management system. You do, however, want time and attendance tools that feed into your payroll, possibly with a scheduling or job costing tool as well.
• Self-employed. Vendors increasingly offer free employee time clock software- both computer-based and smartphone-based- for individuals looking to make more efficient use of time.
When “time and attendance systems” are mentioned, different people think of different things.
• Basic Time & Attendance: Ideal for small companies, the most basic time and attendance system consists of a self-standing time clock that uses paper time cards to record each punch. Some perform basic calculations to compute the amount of time worked each day. They are not integrated with software.
• Integrated Time & Attendance: Ideal for any sized company, an integrated time and attendance system consists of networked time clocks that are integrated with time and attendance software.
This guide will provide some helpful hints for purchasing a basic time and attendance system, but is truly focused on integrated time and attendance systems.
While going far beyond mere features, this article series will cover many basic and advanced features that you will be able to prioritize based on your company’s unique needs. We’ll also discuss delivery model, reporting, integration capabilities, customization ability, vendor reputation, regulatory compliance, and continued support.
Fundamental Purchase Criteria
Before diving into the features to look for in employee time and attendance software, we’re going to start with some of the more fundamental criteria to consider when purchasing time and attendance software.
Let’s be realistic. Without even reading this article, you already know a lot about the time and attendance system you’re going to buy. You know whether you want a simple solution just to track employee labor or if you want a fully integrated biometric system with software connecting several locations.
It’s the process of sifting through the features, determining what you need, and the reality of deploying a successful solution that makes the process of buying a time and attendance system daunting. Luckily, that’s exactly what we’ll cover in this deep dive into time and attendance. By highlighting some of the features that are available out there, you’ll be able to evaluate the usefulness of each feature.
Evaluating Pricing and Cost
We might as well discuss pricing right away since that’s always the first thing that comes to mind when buying anything. As industry insiders, we know that in the time and attendance industry, you get what you pay for. We also know that some companies lowball their upfront price but hide additional fees for everything from equipment rental to system integration. There is a lot to watch out for when buying employee time and attendance software.
Regarding complete time and attendance systems- including both the software and the employee time clocks– you won’t find anything decent for under $1000 these days.
The $1000 upfront cost will buy you an integrated time clock and basic software via a Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery. Of course, this means you’ll be paying a fee per employee per month in addition to that upfront $1000 payment. Anything lower than that would definitely fall into the “too good to be true” or “there must be a catch” categories.
Price shouldn’t be prohibitive, though. Especially at the lower cost-basis. According to Nucleus Research, employee time and attendance systems can save approximately 2.2% of an employee’s gross yearly salary. For a company with 25 employees earning an average of $22,000, that equates to a savings of $12,100 in the first year alone. Chances are, this company’s time and attendance system will pay for itself within the first year.
Saving Money with Advanced Time and Attendance
It’s important to remember that time and attendance systems are money savers- unlike other most capital equipment expenses.
Still, many small companies opt for a simple system instead of a biometric system to save a few hundred dollars in the short run. These companies, however, are just not considering the total cost of ownership. A few unscrupulous employees with a buddy punching scheme can easily negate any savings incurred from buying less expensive terminals.
Let’s move on to some of the purchase considerations of medium and enterprise-level companies regarding cost. Many of these companies are already using biometric time clocks- so for many medium and enterprise-level companies, complete integration, automation, and features are key drivers in their time and attendance initiative.
Perhaps the company wants to track and manage mobile employees. Maybe they have complicated remuneration schemes such as shift differentials or weighted overtime needs. The next article in this series will help you identify the features you need to evaluate the choices out there- and get the best price at the same time.
Remember: Investments in your time and attendance system are known to pay off in the long run. Keep this in mind as you consider price, because every feature that prevents accounting errors, provides efficiency, and improves security is a worthwhile investment for your business.
Experts in Timekeeping and Employee Scheduling
Acumen Data Systems is a leading provider of time clock and employee scheduling software. We help organizations manage their most valuable resources, the human kind. Acumen offers robust solutions for time and attendance, scheduling and leave management.
We believe that technology is just one quarter of the workforce management pie. Employees, policy, and the environment are just as important.
Do you have questions about investing in a new time and attendance system?