Finding software can be overwhelming. We've helped many businesses choose the right online time tracking software so they can track estimated vs. actual time and improve project costing.

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NetSuite OpenAir

NetSuite OpenAir offers buyers a collection of applications designed to support every stage of the professional services delivery lifecycle. Offered as Software-as-a-Service, the platform includes applications to manage projects, ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 62 recommendations

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NetSuite SRP

NetSuite Professional Services Automation is used by professional services organizations to optimize their project-based operations. The software offers integrated project management, resource management, project-based accounting ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 39 recommendations

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BigTime

BigTime is an online time and billing solution designed to serve professional service firms like accounting, engineering, government contracting, legal and IT services. The integrated solution offers features like time and expense... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 34 recommendations

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Workzone

Workzone is a project management solution that offers document management, project collaboration, customizable reporting, resource and task management and time tracking. The software is cloud-based and offers automated emailed rep... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 33 recommendations

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Project Insight

Project Insight (PI) is the work management hub helping companies manage projects, allocate personnel and track what work is being done throughout the entire organization. The intuitive software aggregates data from high-prod... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 33 recommendations

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Clarizen

Using Clarizen’s leading collaborative work management solution for the enterprise, businesses can solve challenges far beyond traditional work, project or resource management. With Clarizen’s enterprise-grade solution, teams are ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 24 recommendations

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BQE Core Suite

BQE Core Legal is a cloud-based solution that offers integrated accounting, time tracking, and billing and invoicing. It can support the operations of a variety of law firms including litigation, corporate, family, tax, immigratio... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 23 recommendations

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Easy Projects

Easy Projects is a cloud-based project management platform suitable for midsize organizations and enterprises. Easy Projects provides every contributing team member, project manager, executive, stakeholder or customer with ac... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 20 recommendations

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Quickbase

Quick Base is a low-code application development platform that enables organizations to unite information, people, and workflows within distribution in a single, cloud-based platform. Unlike traditional software solutions, Quick B... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 19 recommendations

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KeyedIn

KeyedIn is a cloud-based project management solution for enterprise-level companies offering a suite with features, such as program management, professional services automation and project portfolio management application. The sol... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 19 recommendations

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WorkOtter

WorkOtter is a SaaS project, resource, and portfolio management solution built for teams of 50-200 who demand a simple, sensible, and supportable PPM alternative. Touting over 50 gorgeous, configurable, and full animated dashboard... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 16 recommendations

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FunctionFox

FunctionFox is a cloud-based time tracking and project management application, offering timesheets and estimates, as well as scheduling, task assignment, and reporting. FunctionFox’s capabilities are suited for the billing a... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 14 recommendations

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Cora PPM

Cora Systems provide enterprise project and portfolio management solutions to global organizations and government agencies, such as Honeywell, Elanco, PwC, City of London and the UK’s National Health Service. Their solution, Cora ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 10 recommendations

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Smartsheet

Smartsheet is a work execution platform and collaboration tool with a familiar spreadsheet-like interface that helps teams plan, track, and manage projects in real-time. Smartsheet features include a range of project management to... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 9 recommendations

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Workamajig

Workamajig is a cloud-based HTML5 project management solution designed for creative ad agencies and in-house advertising teams of all sizes. Key features include opportunity tracking, project management, time tracking, resource ma... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 9 recommendations

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Replicon

Replicon's advanced timesheet functionality lets businesses track valuable information including check-ins/outs, task progress, and billable/non-billable hours. The invoice module allows users to build custom invoices, examine pay... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 8 recommendations

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Sciforma

Sciforma is a cloud-based project and portfolio management solution for enterprises that allows to strategically track and analyze project data and make relevant decisions. It can be sold as a stand-alone portfolio management, pro... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 8 recommendations

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Wrike

Wrike is a cloud-based project management platform for teams of 20+ that is suitable for both large enterprises and SMBs. It supports remote work for various teams. This solution comes with Gantt charts, calendars, workload view f... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 7 recommendations

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Aysling

Aysling is a cloud-based enterprise resource solution that can run an entire business, from leads to sales, through delivery to payments. Aysling is easy to deploy, configure, use, and manage while offering top-level support and a... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 7 recommendations

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PMware

PMware offers a "ready-to-use" enterprise-class project, portfolio, resource and collaborative work management platform. The software combines robust planning, resource management and in-context collaboration on a single platform ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations

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Buyers guide


Last Updated: April 16, 2021

Online time tracking software refers to the cloud-based tools teams use to monitor and record time spent on tasks and projects. This process is vital for accurate project tracking, which in turn enables managers and stakeholders to plan future projects more effectively.

This guide will help you understand the various types of online time tracking tools available and how they fit within the larger project management software market. Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is Online Time Tracking Software?
Common Features of Web-Based Time Tracking Software
The Vendor Landscape
Market Trends to Understand

What Is Online Time Tracking Software?

Time tracking software helps users manage and structure their time more efficiently. Online time tracking software simply refers to time tracking software products that are stored and accessed online, or in the cloud, rather than installed on a user's local servers (or "on premise"). This type of deployment may be referred to as online, cloud-based, web-based or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

Whereas task management tools help teams organize their workloads, time tracking tools provide teams additional insight into the time spent working on day-to-day activities.

Home screen in FunctionFox

Home screen in FunctionFox

This insight is useful for several reasons, including:

More accurate project costing. Managers can track the estimated versus actual time to complete tasks, milestones and projects. When tracked alongside estimated versus actual project costs, managers get a better idea of project profitability. In turn, this allows businesses to plan future projects more effectively.

Improved scheduling. Understanding an employee’s time management practices allows managers to make more informed scheduling decisions. Additionally, online time trackers help centralize individual and team calendars, so managers have insight into team workloads as well as current and future availability.

Increased productivity. Centralizing project status can boost team efficiency. Users know what is expected of them and when it is due, and they can track how well they are performing against deadlines. Publically displaying progress on a team dashboard also acts as incentive for individuals to complete tasks on time.

Common Features of Web-Based Time Tracking Software

Online time tracking software differs from on-premise software in that it is hosted in the cloud. There are benefits and drawbacks to this type of deployment.

Web-based products are typically priced via subscription, meaning users pay a recurring monthly or annual fee. As a result, upfront costs are generally lower for web-based systems (though over time, the cost of onpremise and web-based systems usually converge).

Additionally, web-based time tracking software is great for users who need to access the tool remotely, since all that's needed for access is a web browser. And updates are pushed out automatically by the vendor, rather than the user having to install them manually.

That said, organizations with significant IT resources may prefer the control afforded by on-premise installations.

Regardless of whether the software is web-based or on premise, the functionality is typically similar. Below are some of the most common time tracking capabilities:

Time clock Manual or automatic time clock; users can record start and end times for tasks. This lets managers track estimated versus actual time required to complete them.
Timesheets Reflects the time log for each team member and the tasks or projects worked on for a designated period of time. Managers must often approve timesheets, especially for hourly or part-time workers.
Time categories/ classification Track time per user, per task or per project. Managers can assign a pay rate or set items up with a fixed price. This helps managers keep track of billable and nonbillable hours.
Dashboard/reports Centralize team schedules and view time logged for individual tasks and team projects. Track time to completion, billable hours versus total hours worked and filter data by week, project or person.
Invoicing Freelancers, contractors or professional services firms might invoice clients per the time accrued on a project. Invoicing options can be based on an hourly rate assigned to the person, task or project.

The Vendor Landscape

There are several free online time tracking applications available for teams with a limited IT budget. These systems can be a great jumping-off point, especially for teams starting out. However, free tools typically have limited features or support services. As a team grows, they will often need to graduate to a more robust solution.

Online time tracking software can be purchased in one of the following ways:

Best-of-breed, or stand-alone platforms. Teams can use online time tracking applications to record time spent working on tasks and projects. As timesheets are often directly tied to billing and invoicing, businesses purchasing stand-alone time tracking software should first ensure the application integrates with their existing accounting system, as well as any other software systems in place.

Examples of stand-alone applications include:

Offered in-suite, as one application of many in a comprehensive system. Time tracking is often included within larger project management (PM) and professional services automation (PSA) solutions. Purchasing an online PM system that includes time tracking is the best way to ensure that data passes seamlessly between project management processes, helping teams stay on top of schedules and project timelines.

Cloud-based PM platforms with time tracking include:

Market Trends to Understand

There are a number of market trends that prospective buyers should be aware of, such as:

Flexible work arrangements. Telecommuting, job sharing, flextime—increasingly, employers are adopting flexible work arrangements (FWAs) as a way to recruit new talent and improve employee retention. Online time tracking software allows employers to track remote worker hours and ensure that employees working flexible schedules are still clocking an eight-hour work day.

For example, many online time trackers have “idle detection,” which alerts users (and employers) of the time spent away from the keyboard. Some tools, such as Hubstaff, track employee activity levels by taking screenshots and tracking keyboard and mouse activity throughout the day.

Growing popularity of agile. Two of the most popular agile methodologies are Kanban and Scrum—both of which are intricately tied to time. Agile teams use Kanban and Scrum tools to track and monitor the time spent on tasks and project phases. (To learn about the distinctions between Kanban and Scrum, check out our article here.)

For example, agile teams following Kanban use cumulative flow diagrams to show the status of different work items over time. They also use lead and cycle time diagrams to measure time to completion for tasks and projects.

Teams following Scrum use timeboxes, or sprints, to structure their time allotted to complete a certain number of tasks. Typically, sprints are two weeks long. Teams then track their progress on each sprint using burndown charts, which plot the amount of amount of tasks against the time in the sprint.