When managing a project, you must be constantly vigilant that time, cost and scope stay in check. Any one of them going awry can wreak havoc on your schedule and send you off-track—or worse. Each one deserves its own article, but let’s just focus on time (and how to track it) for now.
A time tracker is an essential tool for managing a project. Let’s take a look at what a time tracking software can do to help you stay on schedule and then explore some free time tracker apps as well as more robust ones.
What Is a Time Tracker?
A time tracker is a software tool that helps you keep a record of the number of work hours spent on tasks for your project. It’s a great way to measure how much time your team is spending on their tasks.
The greatest advantage of a time tracker is that it gives you insight into your team’s work habits and offers data to help you revise them to boost productivity. Time tracking is an essential tool to monitor your team, especially if they’re working remotely, and make sure they’re working as planned.
While time trackers are often used by companies to keep track of their freelance workers, they’re not exclusively a way to check in on contractors to make sure they’re doing work in the time they’re being paid for. They can also be used to gain efficiency.
Why You May Or May Not Need Time Tracking Software
A time tracker tool is important, but is it crucial to your business? Maybe you’re not sure whether it’s worth the investment. Can a time tracker app really optimize the way your company works, increase the performance of your team and make sure your team is working when they say they are? It can do this and more, but that still doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.
At its most basic, a time tracker is a tool to keep attendance records. You can automate this process and save time, as well as speed up the payroll process. This is especially true when teams have flexible working hours or work remotely. It’s also useful if you need to present hours reports to your stakeholders.
Everyone can benefit from project optimization. Time tracker software helps you schedule time and use resources better. You can see how much time it takes for everyone to complete their individual tasks, and in so doing, find ways to streamline the process and help them to work more productively.
As you can see, there are many advantages to using time tracker software. See if it’s a good fit for your business. If it is, then read on and learn about the time tracker that is right for you.
Different Types of Time Trackers
There are many type of time trackers. You can always use the honor system, where managers rely on their team’s honest reporting of the time they’ve spent on tasks. This is easy, but not always accurate, and there’s no real backup to prove that the results are true.
In terms of documentation, you could use a spreadsheet or a timesheet template to capture the time from start to finish on tasks. These can be shared, which is helpful, but all the work has to be entered manually. That can take a lot of time.
Time tracking can also be part of a project management software that monitors and tracks progress on tasks, with timesheet features that can automatically fill recurring tasks. These timesheets can then be sent to managers for approval.
Time Tracking Software Recommendations
There are a lot of different time tracker software products on the market. By now, you may have a better idea of which kind you want, so let’s look at what’s available to help you make your decision.
ProjectManger.com is award-winning software that integrates time tracking into a full suite of project management features. It allows users to easily track the time their teams spend on tasks, while providing them with timesheets that automatically populate. There are features for setting hourly rates, availability and reporting tools to get data-rich insights to make your teams work more efficiently.
Track Time on Timesheets
Instead of having to purchase a handful of apps to track time and manage your project, you can do it all from one tool. Teams can easily log their hours or autofill recurring tasks, which saves you time and money by streamlining your payroll process. Once timesheets are approved, they’re locked, securing the data.
Get High Level Views with Dashboards
As teams upload their hours, you can track them in real time on the cloud-based software. This data is reflected across all the software tools, including the dashboard.
Generate In-Depth Reports
Custom reports go into even greater detail. You can get deep dives into time usage, task performance, availability and much more. Filter to see what you want and share with stakeholders.
Plus, you can set up reminders to keep you aware of what timesheets are due or have been submitted, as well as due dates and any updates on tasks. Once you have decided on your preferences, emails are triggered automatically. There are even in-app notifications, so you never have to leave the software. If you consider all of the project management features that ProjectManager.com offers, in addition to its time tracking features, it’s clear that you get a powerful tool for a reasonable price. Take a free trial here.
Toggle Track is a great free app for those that need to track time, but don’t want to invest in a more dynamic solution. The free version is rich with features and works on Android, iOS, Linus, macO5, Windows, the web and even as a browser extension. It keeps things simple, focusing on time, without having to enter a lot of data on the project, task, stakeholder, etc.
When you use the tool as a Chrome extension, it will start and stop tracking time if your browser is opened or closed. How’s that for accuracy? There’s even a Pomodoro Technique setting, which means you can set your work for a specific amount of time and schedule periods of rest between them to add to your productivity.
Clockify is another free cloud-based tool to help businesses keep an eye on their team’s productivity, attendance and billable hours. There is a time audit, and you can set up reminders, export data and even dive into customizable reporting and permissions management. There’s also a timesheet tool that can be set up with regular tasks, which then records the time spent doing them.
Managers get a dashboard to view their team’s activity and see their progress. Managers are also able to set up hourly rates. You can integrate the tool with Trello, Google Calendar, Asana, Jira, GitHub and more. Plus, there’s a mobile app for iOS and Android devices. Its selling point is the free entry, of course, and the fact that it supports unlimited users, tracking and projects.
Time Doctor keeps track of what your team is doing. It works as both a time tracking app and also a monitoring app. This time tracker doesn’t have project management features, though. Time Doctor can create invoices in the app and is easily integrated with project management software to fill in the holes in its feature set.
The user interface isn’t the best, but what Time Doctor does well is monitor a wide group, from freelancers to larger organizations with lots of workers. There is no reporting, which means that you can monitor your team but not necessarily gain insights into their behavior to increase their productivity—unless you opt for the paid version.
Best Practices for Using Time Trackers with Teams
Once you’ve decided on the time tracker app that is right for you, you’ll want to apply some of these best practices to get the most out of it.
- Manage: Use time tracking to get insights into how your team works, so you can give them the resources they need to work better.
- Educate: Let your team know why time tracking is important. You want them on board and not bristling at the fact that they’re being watched.
- Empower: Bring your team into the process, let them own the time tracking and provide incentives who take the task seriously.
- Standardize: Do what you can and make sure the tracking rules are understood by all to make sure your tracking is accurate, thorough and efficient.
- Delegate: Designate one manager to own the reviews and audits of the time tracking app. Having one person who is responsible for this work, rather than several, makes it a little bit easier.
ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based tool with timesheets, time tracking features and all the tools you need to manage projects, teams and stakeholders. Plan, monitor and report on every phase of your project. Join over ten thousand teams already using our tool to track time and work more efficiently. Try ProjectManager.com free with this 30-day trial.