Best Time and Attendance Services and Software

by Mona BushnellLast Modified: January 3, 2018

Best Picks
State of the Industry
Negotiation Tips
What Should You Expect
Is Time Card Software Right for Me?
Differences Between Time Card Solutions
What We Tested, What We Found
Compare Quotes

The Best Time and Attendance Services and Software For 2018

Time and attendance software solutions are essential for small businesses wanting to streamline the employee time tracking process. These programs improve accountability across departments, cut down on employee time theft, free up management's time to focus on other tasks and make it easier for employees to clock in and out.

Our goal with this guide was to identify the best products for small business owners with varying needs. Time and attendance software has a broad range of functionality: Some applications only track employees' time; others offer more extensive features, such as employee scheduling, absence management and other features.

For this guide, we identified two distinct types of solutions: time card software and time tracking and management software. The former offers features that are focused on basic clocking in and out and payroll integration; the latter has features that span time tracking, scheduling, reporting and more.

We selected ShopClock the overall best time card software application – it's feature-rich, is easy to use, and it offers payroll integration with QuickBooks, which is a must for many SMBs. TimeClock Plus is our pick for the best time tracking and management software. It offers nearly endless customization and integration options and has a simple, straightforward design.

TSheets' unique GPS tracking feature landed it at the top of our list as the best time tracking and management software app for off-site staff. We also singled out OnTheClock as a best pick, because it is user friendly for both employees and administrators, it's affordable, and you can customize a number of features to suit your business.

Best Picks

Time Tracking and Management
Best Timecard Software
Employee Ease of Use
Offsite Staff
TimeClock Plus

Best Time Tracking and Management Software: TimeClock Plus

TimeClock Plus

TimeClock Plus is our choice for the best time tracking software. This full-featured, all-in-one solution puts power in the hands of administrators, integrates well with outside systems, has plenty of customization options and makes accountability and tracking a breeze. With TimeClock Plus, how time tracking happens is up to you.

Employees can clock in and out from any device, from certain devices, or only using a TimeClock Plus time clock (Timeclock Plus offers card readers, biometric scanners, Telclocks and PIN entry punch-ins).


Best Time Card Software: ShopClock


ShopClock is a comprehensive time card software program that allows business users to track employee work hours and automatically calculate vacation days, sick leave, overtime and personal days. The intuitive interface is easy to navigate, and functions in ShopClock require fewer steps to complete compared to other time clock software we evaluated, which means less time spent managing hours and navigating a new system. ShopClock integrates flawlessly with QuickBooks, a favorite among SMBs across all industries, making it easy to unify the tracking of employee hours with payroll.

The well-designed administrative portal allows admin users to manage permissions on a user-by-user basis, and create and pull reports, including audit trails. Admins can also use ShopClock to create and export CMS and TBS files to third-party accounting software or payroll providers, so even if your business doesn't use QuickBooks, you're covered when it comes to payroll and invoicing integration.

Best Time Card Software for Employee Ease of Use: On The Clock

If employees find a system unintuitive or frustrating to use, they're far less likely to use it, regardless of company policy. On The Clock is our choice of the best time card software for employees. The interface for employees is uncluttered and straightforward, the company offers outstanding customer service, and the software has a low price point ($25 a month for 10 employees). On The Clock is a good solution for businesses with basic hourly time card tracking needs.

On The Clock's employee dashboard is uncluttered and easy to understand. Employee functions, such as requesting PTO, are clearly marked. On The Clock has a step-by-step approach to submitting requests, which makes rolling out this system companywide simple. There is no need for extensive employee training when you adopt On The Clock, a huge benefit for SMBs that may not have an IT manager or department. In the event you have a question, offers an extensive library of video tutorials and FAQs, plus you can reach the company via phone 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time.


Best Time Tracking and Management Software for Offsite Staff: TSheets


TSheets is a unique time tracking management software program, especially if you have employees that work off-site.

False punches are a problem for most SMBs. Companies that employ staff who perform their work off-site (like contractors and drivers), face additional challenges. Without oversight during work hours, many companies suffer from losses due to time theft. TSheets addresses that with a built-in GPS system.

State of the Industry

Time and attendance software is a rapidly evolving field. Just a few years ago, time tracking software integrated with external time clocks and punch-in systems and tracked employee hours. Now, fewer businesses are using stand-alone punch-in systems, and the desire for products that integrate with other solutions and solve more problems has changed the landscape.

Each year the line between time tracking and management software, time card software and scheduling software becomes more blurred. To vie for top spot in the marketplace, solutions have started including more features, so, today, many time tracking products have built-in schedulers, automated messaging, mobile capabilities, advanced admin permissions, interactive dashboards and employee-to-manager workflows. This boosted functionality, combined with lowered prices due to cloud hosting and ready-made web applications, has made time and attendance software a buyer's market.


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


While there are some high-end solutions that will tailor the price of their program for your business, for most SMBs, excellent time and attendance solutions can be procured for a very reasonable price. There are even free versions of time and attendance software available, like Homebase and When I Work, both of which are well designed and excellent for basic use. Of course, free products often lack the functionality of paid products, but if you only need a bare-bones system, you may be able to skip paying for a service altogether.

The way paid services charge for their products varies from company to company. Some time and attendance subscriptions charge per user, with most charging between $4 and $8 per user. Other services charge in a similar fashion, on a per-user basis, but also have a monthly operational cost, which can vary from $12 to $90 per month.

Additionally, there are services that offer different pricing tiers based on the number of supported users. Some of these cost more (the price may reflect one-time fees) and several do not publish their prices, which means you may need to negotiate with the software company.

Several, though not all, time card and time and attendance solutions offer a free trial period, so you can test the software first to determine if the application is a good fit for your company before investing your hard-earned money. These free trial periods range from 14 days to 30 days.

Editor's Note: Looking for a time and attendance system? We can help you choose the one that’s right for you. Use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:


Negotiation Tips

There are so many excellent and low-cost time and attendance solutions available, however, that there's no need to negotiate for a low price in most cases. The only SMBs that may need to negotiate price are those that purchase highly customized solutions, work one on one with a vendor, host the software on-site or, as we state above, request price quotes from companies that don't publicize their costs.

If you are considering an app for which you'll need 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 sales person, 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 way 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 money.

Or to avoid the negotiation process altogether, opt for a bundled plan where the fees are listed online.

What Should You Expect Time Tracking & Management Software to Do?

Implementing time tracking and management software is a solid investment for many small businesses, because staffing is often one of their largest expenditures. According to the American Payroll Association, businesses have the potential to lower their staffing costs by two percent or more simply by automating payroll.

Time tracking software offers several cross-organizational benefits. First, it provides employees with the ability to record their time more precisely and consistently. Second, for your HR and accounting staff, employee hours can be uploaded or synced to your payroll system. Third, 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.

Most of the time tracking and management software in our review offer virtual time clocks that you access through a browser or a mobile app. In addition, most host your data on their servers, ensuring that its securely stored offsite. Most applications are compatible with a variety of timeclocks, including standard models as well as high-security options equipped with badge or biometric scanners.

No matter which time tracking and management system you select, there are certain features you should look for. Each of the applications we reviewed includes the following, though a few of the companies charge an extra fee for some features:

  • Employee and administrative portals: Your employees can access their individual portals to clock in and out, see how much time off they've banked and request time off. You and your management team have additional controls that allow you to track employees' attendance and hours. You can also approve your employees' time-off requests.
  • In-and-out board: In real time, you can see whether your employees are in the office, on a break or clocked out.
  • Tracking tools for performance and productivity: You can monitor your employees' daily progress on specific projects.
  • Customizable pay rules: You can adjust policies to fit the needs of your business.
  • Reports: You can run a variety of reports for hours worked, time-off requests and other stats to help you manage your workforce.
  • Hosted data storage: The time tracking software company backs up and stores your data.

The software should be compatible with popular payroll systems so you can easily sync or upload data. Also, the software provider should offer customer support that you can reach by phone.


Is Time Card Software Right for Me?

Choosing an employee time card tracking solution that is best for you can be challenging. This is why we have included the questionnaire at the top of this page. This quick survey will guide you through some important questions and scenarios to point you to a system that could be a good fit for your company.

Additionally, we have several articles on time card software with helpful tips. Our sister sites, Business News Daily and BuyerZone, have articles on time tracking and management-type software and additional buyer guides.

Time card software, as opposed to other solutions, is best for your business if you need to track employee hours for payroll purposes, but you don't necessarily need extra features like time-off requests or shift differentials, which can track different pay rates for unusual shifts like a swing or graveyard shift, though many of the companies in our review offer these features. This software is designed to be simple for your employees to use, but you may find that you need something with more comprehensive features. For these purposes, you'll want to consider a different type of software.

It can be stressful creating work schedules for your employees while tracking hours for each worker and time-off requests. Employee scheduling software helps you create headache-free schedules and prevents common scheduling problems, such as scheduling an employee for too many hours or for hours that they're unavailable to work. This software can also help you keep track of when employees take time off.

Billing and invoice software is especially helpful if you employ freelancers. This software helps you create invoices for your employees. It also helps you create professional records of bills and invoices created and used by your company.

Now that you've created a successful business, it's an important priority to protect your assets. Access control systems help you control who comes into your building and which employees have access to different areas within your office.

Differences Between Time Card Solutions & Time Tracking Systems

Basic time tracking software is typically installed on a single designated computer that all employees and administrators have access to. The PC acts as the time clock, and having only one computer to use makes it easier to ensure employees are physically present in order to clock in or out. (Boomr is the exception to this rule, as it is cloud-based and works on an app.) Time tracking and management systems are designed for companies with networks and physical time clocks. Often they include additional security measures, whereas time clock software is usually designed for a stand-alone computer.

Buddy Punch and Time Clock MTS both have intuitive punch clocks that don't require a lot of training to understand. They also don't have too many extra steps for functions, such as requesting time off, that may confuse some employees.

Integration with Other Small Business Software & Systems

Time card solutions should be able to create one of the two most common payroll files: CSV and XLS. Both of these files easily integrate into the best small business accounting software and are compatible with payroll services. Some solutions, such as Time Clock MTS, create IIF files that export directly to QuickBooks Online.

Time & Attendance Systems: What We Tested, What We Found

Staffing is one of the top expenses for small businesses, which is why implementing time and attendance software is a smart move. The American Payroll Association estimates that automating payroll saves a business two percent or more per year on payroll expenses. It does this by helping your staff record their time and attendance with greater precision and by giving you the ability to sync or import the data into payroll, saving you the time it takes to manually enter timesheets into a payroll system and eliminating potential errors that may be introduced in the process. Additionally, automated time and attendance systems assure your employees that they're paid accurately, preventing timecard disputes.

For our review, we considered time and attendance software that is suitable for small businesses. We reached out to each company as a potential customer with a small business of 25 employees, both salaried and hourly, that needed a web-based time and attendance solution.

We requested payroll integration, employee scheduling and productivity tracking tools if they didn't cost extra. We tested all of the systems featured in our review using web browsers and virtual time clocks through product demonstrations, walkthroughs and free trials in order to grasp the full experience of deciding on a time and attendance software program for a small business.

Key differentiators include whether the system can be used for salaried as well as hourly employees, whether notifications are available and whether retroactive adjustments and calculations can be made. Here's more on the five categories we used to examine the products in our review:

Most companies have employees with varying computer skill levels. We paid extra attention to how easy to use and intuitive the employee time clock and dashboard are. We looked to see whether there were any unnecessary links, tabs or information in the employee portal that may cause confusion. Those that were given a higher usability score made the employee clock-in, clock-out experience very simple and intuitive.

In addition to clocking in and out for work and breaks, employees also need an efficient way to submit time-off requests, and the ease of this function was also considered in the usability score. Some systems include a clearly marked tab or button that allows employees to send the request to their manager in a single step. Others required several additional steps that often weren't as direct or easy to figure out.

Although the administrative and manager portals contain more information and functions than the employee portals, they should still be easy to navigate. However, some solutions pack a lot of tabs or text links into a limited amount of space, making it difficult to find the link or path needed for key functions such as exporting payroll files or adjusting employee times.

We also considered whether professional setup and training are available. The best systems, though very simple to install, come with free, professional setup and training, and some even included in-person assistance. Other solutions require a setup fee that can range from $150 to more than $1,500. A few systems don't offer personal help but instead provide video tutorials or a comprehensive knowledgebase on their websites.

Time & Employee Tracking
In addition to enabling your staff to log their hours, time and attendance software should track paid time off and sick leave accruals. They should include a self-service employee portal that your staff can use to log in and view their work history, request time off and see how much vacation time they've accrued. The software should also have management tools that help you monitor employees' performance and productivity. All of the products in our lineup have these features, although some companies charges extra for these services.

The best time and attendance tracking systems should track both hourly and salaried employees, and all but three of the products in our lineup include this feature.

Administrative Reports & Controls
It's important for human resource directors and administrators to be able to set access controls that determine what information each employee can access through the portal, depending on his or her job description. They also need to be able to set custom parameters for tracking and paying employees. Some such customizable rules include establishing set hours for clocking in and out in order to reduce unauthorized overtime and rounding rules to ensure a consistent recording of time.

The best time and attendance software includes notifications that alert your staff if they've missed a clock in or clock out, and inform you when an employee is absent, tardy or approaching overtime. All of the software we reviewed includes reporting features and audit trails, helping you see at a glance if you have an employee that takes too many breaks or is consistently late reporting in. They're also compatible with payroll systems and either integrate with them directly or generate compatible reports that you can upload to your payroll service.

Most time and attendance software allows you to make retroactive adjustments and calculations in the event a mistake is discovered and you need to go back and adjust a time entry. All but one of the time and attendance systems in our review include scheduling and forecasting tools that can help you determine how many employees you need for an upcoming project.

Help & Support
Because time and attendance software is an important part of your payroll system, and any errors affect employees' pay, it's important to connect with support personnel. All of the services in our review offer telephone support, and you can also use email to reach out to all but one company.

Approximately half of the services on our lineup offer live chat on their websites, which is helpful if you have a quick question that you need an immediate answer to. More than half of the companies also have a FAQs section on their websites that provides answers to popular questions.

Equipment Integration
All of the time and attendance software in our review can be accessed through web-browsers and mobile devices. Most integrate with physical time clocks, including those that utilize badge and biometric scanners for additional security. Half of the programs integrate with rugged time clocks that employees can use offsite to track their time.

10755 F Scripps Parkway
San Diego, CA
TimeTrax PC
45 Gracey Avenue
Meriden, CT
TimeTrax PC
ADP Small Business Time and Attendance
22300 Haggerty Rd
Northville, MI
ADP Small Business Time and Attendance
TimeClock Plus
900 Chelmsford St
Lowell, MA
TimeClock Plus
324 South State Street
Salt Lake City, UT
1515 Wynkoop St
Denver, CO
Insperity TimeStar
777 Main Street
Fort Worth, TX
Insperity TimeStar
3 Lagoon Drive
Redwood City, CA
181 Research Drive
Milford, CT
TimePilot PC
340 McKee Street
Batavia, IL
TimePilot PC
4400 Dominion Street
Burnaby, BC
TimeCard Manager
700 E Redlands Blvd
Redlands, CA
TimeCard Manager
Time Clock MTS
PO Box 605
Time Clock MTS
8515 NE 219thStreet
Battle Ground, WA


List of 20Best Time and Attendance Services and Software

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