The Best Time and Attendance Services and Software 2021

By Chad Brooks, Staff
| Updated
Dec 10, 2020

Keeping accurate track of exactly how long your employees are working each day is of critical importance. Businesses that aren't accurately tracking their employees' time could be costing themselves thousands of dollars a year.

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Below, read our reviews of other time and attendance software applications.

Time and Attendance Costs

The costs of a time and attendance system vary greatly based on several factors. How you have the software hosted – in the cloud or on premises – how many employees you have, the features you want included and whether you are using a traditional wall-mounted timeclock all factor into how much your business will pay for a time and attendance system. 

Regardless of how the system is hosted, the cost structure typically revolves around how many users you have. Most time and attendance system providers charge on a per-user basis. This means that there is a cost for each person, employee, manager, administrator, etc., who is using the software. 

While some time and attendance systems have one flat offering with all of the available features included, others have multiple service plans or additional modules for extra features. For those that have several offerings, the per-employee price will vary based on the exact tools your business wants included in the software.

Per-employee costs can also be impacted by the number of users you have. Some time and attendance system providers have tiered pricing based on the number of users, with the more users you have, the lower the per-employee cost. 

Your costs (and cost structure) are really dependent on how you choose to have the software hosted. The costs of on-premises systems are mostly made up of one-time, upfront expenses, while the cost of cloud-hosted systems revolves around monthly, per-employee fees. 

For cloud-based systems, costs range anywhere from $1 to $10 per employee, per month. Most of the systems we assessed, however, averaged between $3 and $5 per employee. In addition, some providers have a base fee that you are charged regardless of how many users you have. This base fee could be anywhere from $20 to $100 per month. 

For a business with 20 employees, the cost of your system could run anywhere from $20 to $300 per month. 

However, some time and attendance providers have a monthly minimum. For example, the per-employee costs might be $4 per month. However, there could be an $80 monthly minimum. This means that even if you have less than 20 employees, you still have the pay $80 a month for the service. 

Another cost to consider with a cloud-hosted system is for setup, implementation and training fees. Those costs vary greatly. Some providers have no setup fees;  others charge as little as $100 and as much as several thousand dollars. 

While cloud-based systems are becoming increasingly more common, some providers still offer on-premises systems. Costs for these systems range from a few hundred dollars to more than $10,000 for the software. Some on-premises solution providers also charge per employee licensing fees. These fees range from as little as $25 per employee to more than $100 per employee. 

The other cost to consider with time and attendance systems, regardless of the hosting option, is for timeclocks. Depending on the provider and the timeclock, you can spend several hundred on up to several thousand dollars for these devices. 

There are so many excellent and low-cost time and attendance solutions available that there's often no need to negotiate for a lower price. The only businesses that may need to negotiate price are those that purchase highly customized solutions, work one-on-one with a vendor, host the software onsite, or request price quotes from companies that don't publicize their costs. 

If you are considering a system that requires a price quote, be as clear as you can with the sales rep about your needs, and speak up when features are offered that you don't understand or don't need. 

Always remember that you are talking to a salesperson, not a personal IT consultant. It is the sales rep's job to sign you up for as many upgrades and add-ons as possible. If you are not assertive, you may pay for more product than you need. Plus, it's always possible to upgrade if you need more features, so err on the conservative side when selecting features that cost extra.


Time and Attendance Features

Time and attendance systems include a lot of features and tools that help businesses keep track of not just when their employees are coming and going but all of their time-related needs. Among some of the more valuable features time and attendance solutions include are: 

  • Clocking options: Most time and attendance systems offer employees multiple ways to clock in and out each day. Among the attendance tracking options some systems offer include timeclocks, web browsers, mobile apps, telephones, text messages and social media. 
  • Timeclocks: For those using a traditional timeclock, there are multiple options on the method used to collect time. Many clocks are compatible with swipe cards, PIN numbers, bar codes and biometrics, such as fingerprint and facial scans. 
  • Mobile access: Most systems are mobile friendly and offer either a mobile app or mobile-friendly website. This allows employees who work outside of the office an easy way to clock in and out, as well as manage other aspects of their time. The majority of mobile apps utilize GPS tracking, such as geolocation or geofencing, to either record the exact locations where an employee punches in and out from, or restrict the areas where they can clock in and out. 
  • In-and-out board: In real time, you can see whether your employees are in the office, on a break or clocked out.  
  • Job trackers: These time trackers allows employees to log how long they work on specific projects or tasks. This can be especially valuable to businesses that charge clients based on how long they work on their assignments, such as consulting or law firms. 
  • Time-off requests: Many systems either include or offer an add-on module for paid time off management. This includes the ability to track employees' time off accruals; employees can submit PTO requests to managers who either approve or deny those requests. 
  • Scheduling: Many systems offer sophisticated schedule creation tools that allow organizations to schedule shifts for individual or employee groups in minutes. The scheduling tools also automatically monitor if employees are clocking in late or leaving early. 
  • Notifications and alerts: Some solutions provide schedule alerts, which can be sent by email or text message, to managers to immediately let them to when an employee arrives late, leaves early or is nearing overtime. When it comes to overtime, this can be a big cost savings to businesses, as they can quickly determine whether the employee nearing overtime should continue working or be sent home. 
  • Reports: Most time and attendance software provides businesses with detailed reports that give added insight into the hours their employees are working. This can help determine staffing levels and scheduling needs. Performance management reports, financial reporting, activity reporting, attendance reporting, time off summaries and leave reports are examples of some of the data these systems provide. 
  • Customer support: The provider you choose should offer customer support that is available when you need it.

Benefits of a Time and Attendance System

Implementing a time and attendance system is a solid investment for many businesses because it offers several cross-organizational benefits. 

One benefit of using automated time and attendance systems is that they provide employees with the ability to record their time more precisely and consistently. Employers that are using paper time sheets are more than likely paying employees for time they didn't work. Many workers round back or up when recording when they show up and leave for work. For example, if someone gets in at 8:10 a.m., they might put down their start time as 8 a.m. Conversely, when leaving, an employee might pack up for the day at 4:45 p.m. but write down that they worked until 5 p.m. 

While there might not be much lost productivity, businesses are still paying for time that their employees didn't work. Research from the American Payroll Association shows that three-quarters of businesses are affected by employee time theft. Whether it's from coming in a few minutes late, leaving early or taking long lunches, the study found that the average hourly worker cheats their employer out of anywhere between 50 minutes and 4.5 hours of work time a week. That translates into potentially tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue each year. 

Another benefit of using a digital time and attendance system is that it can free up employees to work on other tasks. If you are using paper timesheets or old punch clocks, someone from the HR team has to spend several hours each week adding all the time up and transferring the information into your payroll software. 

Sierra Workforce Solutions said research shows this can take about 6 minutes per card. Depending on how large your organization is, this could be a very time-consuming process. Using a time and attendance system and computer timeclocks eliminates that responsibility from an employee, giving them more time to work on other tasks. 

The software's functionality eliminates the time it takes to manually enter information and reduces errors that may occur when deciphering handwritten timesheets or manually keying in hours. Reducing such errors by using an automated time tracking program helps prevent timecard disputes and reassures employees that they're accurately paid. 

Ease of use is another benefit of time and attendance systems. These systems make it simple for employees to clock in and out. They can typically do so from their desk using a computer timeclock. Most systems also offer a mobile app, which gives remote workers easy ways to record their time. 

Research from time and attendance system provider Replicon revealed just how important these solutions are. The study discovered that 96% employees say they have made mistakes when recording their time and attendance, with 86% saying they have challenges tracking their time. 

Once your employees are logged into the system, not only can they clock in and out, they also see their total hours worked each week, review their schedules, see how much time off they've accrued and request time off. Those in charge have additional controls that allow them to track employees' attendance and hours, review labor data reports and approve or deny time-off requests.

Time and Attendance FAQS

Q: What is the best employee timeclock? 

A: It is hard to say what the best employee timeclock is, since choosing a timeclock really depends on your company's specific needs. Most time and attendance system providers offer their own timeclocks, so after choosing a system, you can then look at the clocks those providers offer. 

The best timeclocks are those that have the features and tools your business needs. Some timeclocks only clock employees in and out, while others offer the ability to check schedules, review time cards, see paid time off accruals and ask for vacation days. 

In addition, you need to ensure the timeclock you choose offers the functionality, in terms of the method you want employees following to clock in and out, you need. If, for example, you want employees to use swipe cards, the timeclock should be compatible with swipe cards. If you want them to use PIN numbers, the timeclock you choose should offer that. Additionally, if you want biometric options to prevent buddy punching, it should allow employees to clock in and out using their fingerprint or facial scan. 

Another thing to consider when choosing a timeclock is the service and warranty options. Make sure you are covered should the timeclock malfunction in some way. 

Q: How much does a time and attendance system cost? 

A: The cost of a time and attendance system can vary greatly. How much you pay for a time and attendance solution depends on several factors, most notably how you want the system hosted – in the cloud or on-premises – and how many employees you have. 

If you want a cloud-hosted system, expect to pay an ongoing monthly fee. Most providers charge a per-user fee, which ranges anywhere from $1 to $10 per employee. In addition to the per-user cost, some providers charge a base fee, which can range from $20 to $100 per month. 

To calculate your cost for this type of system, you would multiply the number of employees you have by the per-user cost. If there is a base monthly fee, you would add that to your total to get your monthly costs for the service. 

While most providers charge on a per-user basis, there are some that set prices based on a range of employees. For example, there might be a $25 flat fee for up to six employees, a $34 fee for up to 10 employees and so on. 

If you want an on-premises system, the cost structure is completely different. Instead of ongoing monthly costs, you pay larger one-time, upfront fees for the software and user licenses. The software costs anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. There are then smaller fees for the user licenses. 

The only other major cost associated with time and attendance systems is for timeclocks. If you want to use a traditional timeclock with your system, expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred to upwards of a couple thousand dollars for each clock. 

The costs of clocks vary based on why type of data recording options you want (swipe badge, PIN number, biometrics, etc.) and whether you want a clock that does more than just record when employees come and go. 

Q: What is mobile time tracking? 

A: Mobile time tracking refers to a time and attendance system's ability to manage the time of remote workers. Many systems include a mobile app or mobile-friendly website that allows on-the-go employees to clock in and out from their mobile devices. This option is especially valuable in today's working environment where more employees are working from outside the office. 

What makes mobile time tracking especially appealing is that most systems offer geolocation and/or geofencing technology. This GPS tracking allows employers to keep close tabs on where their remote workers are punching in and out each day. 

With geolocation, the system records the exact location of an employee each time they clock in or out. Employers can then see those locations and make sure the employees are where they are supposed to be. 

Geofencing gives employers the ability to set location boundaries of where employees can clock in and out from. For example, employers can set boundaries around a worksite to ensure their workers are showing up each day. Without this option, an employee, in theory, could clock in and out from home and never show up at the worksite. 

Some systems offer added mobile tracking features that will record the location of a remote employee throughout the day. The system will ping the mobile device every few minutes, which allows employers to see a map of where their remote employees were all day.

What to Expect in 2019

In 2019, we expect increased use of biometrics in time and attendance systems. Currently, several systems are compatible with fingerprint scanners. However, as employee concerns and lawsuits about how these scans are being stored and used, more employers may opt for facial recognition biometrics. 

Instead of scanning a fingerprint, facial recognition biometrics scan the employee's face or eyes. This can be as simple as taking a picture of the employee when they clock in or out to ensure they aren't buddy punching, or as sophisticated as taking a retinal scan of the employee's eyes. 

The level of biometrics hitting the market is becoming more complex and secure, and we expect more time and attendance system providers to build these features into their core platforms. 

Additionally, we think a growing number of businesses will take advantage of these offerings. Biometrics can save businesses money beyond preventing buddy punching. By using facial or even fingerprint scans, employers don't have to spend money on magnetic stripe badges that they may have otherwise used for clocking in and out. Depending on the size of your workforce, that can deliver considerable savings. 

If your business employs biometrics, it's imperative that you have clearly written guidelines that spell out how the information will be collected, used and stored. In addition, all of this information must be shared with your employees. Being transparent with employees and ensuring that your documentation is in order can eliminate potentially messy and expensive lawsuits down the road. 

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are other areas in which providers will continue to expand. Many of these companies are still learning the full scope of just how beneficial AI and machine learning can be for time and attendance software. 

Our Methodology

To determine the best time and attendance system, we compiled a list of nearly 80 time and attendance software providers. To narrow that list down, we separated all the vendors that had a good online reputation, such as those services that were consistently ranked highly by other websites. 

At periodic intervals, we queried business owners to see which services they used. When we got multiple business owners raving about a particular vendor they use, that company was also added to the final list of contenders. 

Finally, we went through and visited each company's website. If a company stood out to us, we added them to the final list. 

We narrowed down our pool to Acrotime from Acroprint, ADP, Attendance Enterprise from Infortronics, Boomr, Buddy Punch, ClockInEasy, ClockIt, Clockspot, ClockVIEW from Acumen, Deputy, EPAY Systems, iSolved Time, Kronos' Workforce Ready, Stratustime from nettime solutions, TimeAttend from Replicon, TimeClick from Hawkeye Technology, TimeClock Plus,, TimeStar from Insperity, TSheets from QuickBooks, uAttend from Workwell Technologies, Webtimeclock, WhenIWork. 

Next, we researched each provider by investigating its services, watching tutorials and how-to videos, and reading user comments. After narrowing the list down further, we contacted the support teams of our finalists posing as business owners to gauge the type of customer service each provider offers. 

We analyzed each service based on the following factors: time-tracking capabilities, time off management, overtime/tardy monitoring, scheduling tools, available reports, ease of use, customer service, integration options, mobile access, cost, and Better Business Bureau complaints and rating.

Common Time and Attendance Services and Software Questions & Answers

Have a time and attendance service or software question of your own?

Good question... Getting back from breaks. I know I need breaks, and I make myself have breaks in order to stay productive, but coming back to work can be a struggle. As for email conquering, there are a few steps I found to be extremely helpful: 1. The majority of your email traffic should SKIP your Inbox 2. Create a small number of designated folders. Five is a good number. This is where most of the traffic goes, to be checked a couple times a week. 3. Check email no more than 2-3 TIMES...

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Hi Sara, my suggestion would be to work with a coach creating a new habit & routine and maybe change an un-resourceful belief into a resourceful one. A tool that is very effective to use in conjunction with your new habit is called: Urgent / Important. Here's how it works: draw a 4 quadrant shape using a whole page Here are the titles for each: 1) Urgent & Important 2) Urgent but not important 3) Important but not urgent 4) Not important & not urgent Allocate / drop all your tasks...

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Hi Jack, It's a great question, however it's not the hours of the day that counts, it's what you can within the hour of each day. It's all of question of balance and economics, with the most precious thing you have. Your time. You can't get it back and you can't go to the bank to get some extra time. As they say if you don't take a lunch break you can work 25 hrs each day. (well not so.) Now that I have your attention, there are a number of things you really should consider. 1)...

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