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Buyer's Guide

by Brian Westfall,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: March 17, 2017

If you want a better way to track employee hours, schedules and sick days and also want to ditch the manual punch clock, online time and attendance software may be for you.

This type of software captures employee work hours, simplifies attendance tracking and speeds scheduling and payroll tasks. And because it’s cloud-based, it’s accessible from anywhere there is an internet connection.

This guide explains more, including:

What Is Online Time and Attendance Software?

Online time and attendance software may also be referred to as cloud, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or Web-based time and attendance software. All describe a type of software deployment whereby the software is hosted remotely and accessed via Web browser, rather than installed locally on your own servers.

Online time and attendance software typically offers functionality to support three core areas:

  • Time management: Track work hours more efficiently by allowing employees to clock in and out using a computer or mobile device. Some systems also integrate with traditional time-punch, ID scan and biometric systems, such as fingerprint ID.
  • Attendance tracking: Sick days, jury duty, overtime and paid-time off need to be accounted for in any business. Online time and attendance software makes it easier to keep track of timesheets, time-off requests and other employee records because most information is collected automatically and stored electronically. Some systems also include a self-service employee portal where employees can log in to submit time-off requests and review time records.
  • Scheduling: Scheduling systems help managers create schedules and view the actual time worked. Most systems also include alerts, so managers will know if an employee is approaching overtime, increasingly tardy or having other attendance issues.
Employee time card view for TimeForce 

Employee time card view for TimeForce

Potential Benefits

Companies that implement the right online time and attendance systems stand to benefit in several ways, including:

Fewer administrative errors. Manual timekeeping is prone to error. Handwritten time sheets, for example, are difficult to read and can result in over or underpaying. It’s also easy for untrustworthy employees to lie about hours they worked in businesses that use manual timekeeping systems.

Because online time and attendance software records time in and time out, payroll is more accurate and administrators spend less time deciphering handwriting and correcting errors.

Reduce “buddy-punching” and other forms of time theft. According to the American Payroll Association, 74 percent of U.S. businesses experience payroll losses due to employee time theft. “Buddy punching,” when a co-worker clocks in or out for another employee who gets paid for hours they didn’t work, is a common time theft method.

Online time and attendance software, especially those that integrate with biometric time punch technology, can make it more difficult for an employee to clock hours for a co-worker and reduce buddy-punching.

Improved regulatory compliance. Data collected through time and attendance applications can help ensure a business gathers the required information needed to comply with federal and state labor regulations. Should a labor agency ever audit your business, you’ll be able to create reports to review employee time tracking data.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Online time and attendance tracking software is useful for any business that must track employee work hours. The following are some of the most common types of software buyers:

Businesses that track billable hours. Legal offices, creative agencies and other types of business consultants usually employ salaried professionals. But, they must track hours worked to accurately invoice clients.

Self-employed. People who work for themselves typically charge customers by the hour, so they use time tracking software to tally time spent working on projects and other business tasks. By keeping time records, self-employed individuals can prove time spent if a customer disputes an invoice.

HR departments. Businesses with formal HR departments often have enough employees to make online time and attendance necessary for the sake of efficiency. Tracking work hours, sick days and schedules for hundreds or thousands of employees is time-consuming. These systems can automate tracking and significantly reduce administrative work.

How Online Time and Attendance Software Is Priced

Online time and attendance systems generally follow one of two pricing models:

Subscription. Businesses pay a monthly or annual license fee based on the number of employee records or number of users. This pricing model is most common for cloud-based time and attendance products. Support and maintenance costs are typically included in the recurring license fee.

Perpetual. A one-time fee is charged upfront to cover either a single- or multi-user license fee. Businesses can use the software in perpetuity without purchasing a new license, but annual support and maintenance fees may be required.

Furthermore, online time and attendance pricing tends to increase as the depth and breadth of functionality increases.

Online Time and Attendance Software Pricing


Packages on the higher end of the scale offer the most robust features, such as integration with payroll applications, time clock technology integration and employee self-service portals.

Packages on the lower end include only the most essential functions, such as timesheets and basic reporting.

Generally, large businesses with thousands of employees will benefit most from more comprehensive packages. Small businesses and the self-employed will find packages with less functionality align with their needs and budget.

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