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Business owners appreciate that tracking of their employees' attendance and time can be overwhelming work. In efforts to assist what at times can be a tedious and monotonous task, lots of businesses are now shifting their attention to time and attendance digital systems that are capable of automatically tracking and computing the data.

In recent years, time and attendance systems have dramatically evolved, simplifying the procedures of accounting while making sure that total compliance with all relevant labor requirements is upheld. Widely employed by businesses and organizations of every size, these systems automate the employee's time tracking through 3 components:

  • Log-in method.
  • Data capturing equipment.
  • Software platform.

The three components above work together in recording exit and entry data that electronically gets transferred from the device used in logging to the software program. The transfer of data can be planned for any time increment and is of great help with compliance and payroll reporting.

Industry Trends

As you compare the different time and attendance systems available, it's worth your effort to acquire a current view of the latest technological developments that are impacting this new and growing industry.

Notable among the very significant trends are these two:

  • Mobile applications: These are making it possible for both managers and employees to track and record time activity using a mobile device.
  • Cloud-based systems: They are providing very cost-effective buy-in, easy maintenance and a high degree of usability.

Mobile Applications

The ability to effectively track your employees’ hours using mobile technology is today fast turning into a necessity because more and more members of staff are working remotely. The majority of these platforms are operating though one common app, which is usually compatible with both Android and iPhone devices.

A primary strength of mobile platforms is that many have GPS tracking capability—an extremely useful feature if you got employees working remotely.

Cloud-Based Technology

Without doubt, the most dominant trend taking place today in the industry is the cloud-based technology. Its growing popularity may be attributed to the cost-effectiveness, being a web-based platform. It offers extremely low up-front/installation costs and has virtually no recurrent maintenance fees. This is a secure setup which you can access from any corner of the globe.

The real benefit perhaps lies in that it will not require you to have in-house IT support and it has no software to be installed. All platform updates are conducted by the provider in the background.

Time and Attendance Types

The available time and attendance systems can be categorized into two main groups: web-based and PC-based. From there, it becomes possible to further subdivide the groups by the log-in methodology and the equipment used in capturing data.

1. PC-Based

A PC-based or in-house time and attendance system is usually installed on just one machine and is suitable if your operations are relatively small-scale. For larger operations, you can have it installed on local servers. Here, security and back-up must be given attention to prevent potential data loss.

2. Web-Based

These are currently at the industry forefront for their low upfront cost and broad usability. A SaaS or web-based setup will typically not require any in-house IT support. The platform is entirely hosted over the Web. All system upgrades are conducted from the provider's end.

Data Collection Devices

It's important to note that the majority of these devices are only applicable to PC-based systems and typically require some hard-wiring for them to get integrated with the accompanying software platform.

Some of the more used devices include:

  • Numeric keypad
  • Punch clock
  • Swipe card
  • Biometric
  • Proximity switch
  • Employee self-service

Main Features

Although the majority of time and attendance systems generally contain similar basic features, it's important to know what you should be expecting from each, particularly when you are transitioning from a manually based payroll process.

1. Payroll and Scheduling Integration

Among the leading benefits that come with this feature is that it will typically assemble together (on a single screen) all aspects of time and attendance, thus greatly making the process simplified. Your company payroll staff can edit, review, and oversee all your employee timesheets. At the same time, they can manage expenses and perform other advanced functions such as sick days, vacation, and other time off related aspects.

Scheduling integration brings double unique benefits. First, it greatly makes scheduling simplified, especially in relation to overtime and compliance. Further, it enables business owners and managers to automatically and easily calculate pay for regular and overtime hours worked.

2. Reporting

This feature provides data in real time. You can configure the reports to provide your organization with a variety of different views, which allows data review across wage types, departments, and even make comparisons between physical locations.

3. Cloud Capabilities

Time and attendance systems having cloud capabilities empower the user to make entries, edit and retrieve time data from any global location so long as there is an Internet connection. They simplify data validation and reconciliation as they come with a comprehensive scheduling package and tool.

4. Mobile Capabilities

Employed together with a web-based platform or a larger PC, mobile capabilities are typically run via an easily installed app on an employee's mobile device. Using the device, they can clock in or out, key in break periods, edit cost or job codes, and even dispatch text messages to the management.

5. Key Performance Indicators (KPI)

KPIs are an additional advanced feature, typically falling within the reporting range. Briefly, what it does is that provides managers with real-time business data enabling them to effectively manage and forecast labor costs.

Choosing a Dealer

Comparing a couple of providers via a local time and attendance purchasing guide is the best approach when it comes to initiating the process of purchasing. Whether your interest is in a web or PC-based solution, this lets you to assess the platforms themselves and the support levels that accompany them.

1. Check Experience and Background

Not every time and attendance system will work for all organizations. As a matter of fact, the industry tends to somewhat get segmented by the business size for which the time and attendance solution is designed for. Check out for one that is serving clients with needs similar to yours.

2. Check References, Read Ratings and Reviews

These can be extremely helpful as they give an overview of services provided and might also highlight weaknesses and strengths. Ask any potential vendor to supply you with several references.

3. Inquire about Customer Support

Regardless of the system you opt for, this aspect is critical. Although PC-based systems will require more continuous support for equipment and software upgrades, the web-based models are really not completely hands-off. It’s good to know you can reach their support desk in case of a major hitch 24/7.

Questions to Ask

After you have greatly narrowed down the field, you can still evaluate dealers further by comparing the details and specifics of their individual services. Whatever method of communication you employ, try and seek the following information or answers from them:

  • Do they offer industry specific customizations and configurations?
  • What are the different types of product are available plus the software support? Does that support come at an extra cost?
  • Do they install and if not, what is the extra cost?
  • Do they provide training?


After taking into consideration all the highlighted factors and features in this time and attendance purchasing guide, probably the final aspect when it comes to the selection is cost comparison. Although this should never really be used as your basic or primary means of identifying and selecting a service or product, always remember that the involved costs directly have an impact on your Return-On-Investment. The bottom line will be determined by what you aim to achieve through the time and attendance system.