If you’re a small business owner, the days of using paper timesheets are gone. Today, many business owners use time-tracking software to track employee time. Converting to a mobile time card app could do wonders, whether you’re an independent contractor or a business owner with employees. Today, we’ll detail the benefits of time-tracking apps and the best ones to consider.
Why tracking time is important
Before explaining why a time card app is more beneficial than paper timesheets, it helps first to understand why time tracking is essential. With the rise of technology, employees have become more distracted during the workday.
In one study by Leadership IQ, 69% of respondents indicated that on most days, “time flies by and I don’t track where I spend every minute or hour.” On the other hand, 31% said they regularly track their time manually, or with software so they know “exactly where [their] time goes throughout the day.”
Employee productivity has been, and will continue to be, a problem for business owners. One study of 2,000 salaried employees found they only accomplished three hours of work per day. As employees work less and less from the office and have decreased supervision, it’s reasonable for small business owners to worry about reduced productivity.
A decrease in productivity creates problems with both overbilling and underbilling. If you purchase a service, overbilling should be a concern. For example, let’s say you hire someone to build a website for you. The individual provides you his or her rate of $100 per hour and an estimated completion time of 20 hours. However, at the end of the project, the individual bills you for 25 hours.
This increase costs you an extra $500 you had not budgeted for. Without accountability, overbilling is a problem that can cause small businesses financial harm.
Improper time tracking can also lead to underbilling. Underbilling is the opposite of overbilling — underbilling is the act of not invoicing enough for a project. Let’s take the above example, except in this case, you’re the web developer. You initially quoted 20 hours, but the project actually took you 25 hours to complete.
However, because you are nervous about telling the customer and want to maintain a professional reputation, you only invoice for 20 hours. This decision costs you $500 you should have earned.
If you had used a tool (such as a time card app) to track time, you could have easily demonstrated to the customer that the project did, in fact, take you 25 work hours. Business owners can prevent both overbilling and underbilling by using time clock apps. Non-compliance with invoices can have severe consequences for your company.
The problem with paper timesheets
Depending on what industry you’re in, you may use paper timesheets. While employees tend to use these less and less, they are still relevant in industries like construction, where employees work off-site. However, paper timesheets create a hassle for employers.
One of the most significant problems with paper timesheets is that managers must keep track of them. They must carry them around the job site all day and remember to return them to the central office. During this time, it’s very easy for them to become torn, damaged or lost.
If a manager were to lose a paper timesheet, accurately recovering the data is practically impossible. Furthermore, once the paper is returned to the office, someone must manually enter the timesheet data into the payroll software.
This is an inefficient process that wastes considerable working hours. There’s also a chance some handwriting is illegible, causing the manager to misenter the information. This would then cause payroll to run incorrectly, creating a hassle for both the employee and the employer.
Another problem with paper timesheets is that employees can falsely record when they clock in and clock out. What’s stopping an employee from writing down that they were at work at 8 a.m. when didn’t really show up until 8:15 a.m.? This may not seem like much, but if you’re paying the employee $40 an hour, that small error on the employee timesheet cost you $10, and could add up quickly over time.
Lastly, paper timesheets are limiting. You don’t receive any perks other than being able to log an employees’ time spent at work. As we’ll detail below, today’s modern time card apps offer significant benefits for small business owners.
Benefits offered by modern time card apps
Modern time card apps streamline employee time tracking. There are a couple of features you can look for.
- Mobile time tracking — Take your time tracking on your mobile device. On a call with a client? Log into your time clock app to start recording billable hours. These apps let employees clock in and out remotely, so you don’t have to worry about paper timesheets.
- Timesheet integration — All employee time clock information is uploaded to the cloud. You can integrate your time clock app with timesheet and payroll software without the need for manual labor. Additionally, employees can view working hours in real time and report any discrepancies immediately.
- Verify employee hours — Many of today’s time card apps offer a verifiable GPS location. You can use their smartphone location to determine whether an employee was indeed at a job site when they said they were. No longer can employees misreport their working hours. Once at the job site, employers can enable geofencing to create a virtual boundary. If an employee leaves this boundary, the employer will receive an alert on his or her phone.
- Employee scheduling assistance — If you often send employees to different job sites, you may frequently deal with them getting lost or showing up to the wrong location. A modern time card app can eliminate this problem. You can send location instructions to an employee’s phone and allow employees to make time-off requests in the app.
The five best time card apps available today
Once you’ve decided you need to make the switch to online timesheets, you will need to know which software can best help you do so. Below, you’ll find the five best time card apps available today.
1. TSheets by QuickBooks
TSheets by QuickBooks provides your employees with access to mobile time tracking, allowing you to manage them proactively. The software integrates into your Quickbooks accounting software to help you run payroll. According to the company’s website, business owners who use TSheets invoice 11% more — meaning they were underbilling previously — and also reduce payroll costs by 6%.
Business owners can try Tsheets for free for 14 days. After that, the price increases depending on what type of business you run. If you’re self-employed, the service is free. Small businesses pay a $20 base fee per month and an additional fee of $5 per user per month. Enterprises pay a base fee of $100 per month and an additional fee of $5 per user per month.
2. Google Android Time Card
If you need a simple, yet automated method to keep tabs on employee hours, consider Android Time Card. This time card app offers basic check-in and check-out features. Completed time cards can be emailed to process in Excel or payroll applications. Time Card also tracks mileage and supports multiple languages. It doesn’t integrate as seamlessly as TSheets, but it could help ease you and your employees into a mobile time card system. This app costs $3.99 per user.
3. ClockedIn 2
If you need to track tasks that span multiple days for billing purposes, this app is worth your consideration. ClockedIn 2 can push tasks onto iPhone calendars for scheduling purposes. It doesn’t have built-in invoicing or billing features, but it can create customer and project summary reports by day, week or month. ClockedIn 2 costs $4.99 per download.
4. TimeClock Connect: Time Tracking and Invoicing
This time tracker caters to those who bill by the hour. You set different hourly or incremental rates for each client, and TimeClock calculates the earnings. You can export data to a spreadsheet for smart invoicing, and use an invoice generator or opt for the company’s invoicing service at $5.99 per month. This mobile app is free to download.
The Timewerks timer keeps running even when the application is closed, ideal for tracking hours while performing other tasks on your phone. The app integrates with your iPhone address book to create new client records. You may customize it to accommodate different rates for different tasks. You can also create invoices within the app and send them via email. Lastly, you can integrate Timewerks to accept credit card payments. Timewerks is free to download, but has different in-app purchases available, including:
- Timewerks Data Sync (Yearly) — $24.99
- Timewerks Data Sync (Monthly) — $2.99
- PDF Invoices and Estimates — $2.99
- Invoice Logo — $1.99
- Timewerks Data Backup — $2.99
- Unlock — $4.99
- Unlock Pro (Best Deal) — $9.99
Timesheet apps to save time and money
As a small business owner, you should continually look for ways to optimize and grow your business. Fortunately, there is plenty of software now available to help you do so.
One area to consider improving is time tracking. Whether you’re a freelancer logging time spent on a project or a small business owner asking employees to punch in on paper time cards, a time card app can do wonders for your company. The five options in this article are all great mobile time clocks to help get you started.