How to Build an Employee Time Tracking Tool

If you are an organization or a business leader who needs to identify and adequately plan their time and objectives, you know how difficult it is to track employee time. While paper-based systems and spreadsheets are limited and even archaic, automated time tracking software can take your organization to the next level. Without a proper time tracking solution in place, you cannot accurately quantify what employees are doing throughout the day, what percentage of projects are on track, and how all this affects revenue and profits.

If you’re thinking of building an employee time tracking tool to meet these needs, the cost and resources needed to do so can be significant. Here’s what to consider as you make your decision.

What You Need in Automated Time Tracking Software

Time tracking helps you understand project costs, bill clients accurately, payout employees according to the hours spent, determine which employees have available time, and plan new projects. There are a lot of features that you need in a software to ensure all of these functions happen automatically and accurately. Here’s what you’ll need to have in any time tracking tool:

Analytics for Improved Employee Efficiency and Productivity: Time tracking software should allow you to analyze how employees spend their workday — from managing strategic assignments to working on admin tasks — resulting in improved productivity. You need to be able to categorize which tasks take more time than presumed and re-evaluate those to use employees to their full potential and efficiency.

Consistent Workflows: The widespread fallacy about any time tracking software is that it only allows users to clock in and clock out. However, it can and should handle much more — from tracking your employee time to monitoring meetings, projects, and resources. All this will give you the chance to analyze the workflow and fix the gaps.

Improved Client Billing: An employee time tracking system needs to allow you to record billable hours so that it’s easier to invoice clients and ensure that customers aren’t overcharged or undercharged.

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Streamlined Payroll Process: The old payroll process involves a lot of manual data entry; however, a top time tracking solution creates timesheets with validations, which the payroll department can use to prepare payroll.

Improved Task Management: By tracking the time employees spend on different projects, you can easily create workable schedules and measure how well resources are being utilized. You can also verify billable and non-billable hours, which will help you discover cracks and improve resource utilization.

Reduced Costs: An automated time tracking solution needs to eliminate the exact problem and correct inefficiencies that are causing revenue leaks in your business, cutting back on wasted costs.

Should You Build a Time Tracking Tool?

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into creating a top-tier time tracking tool. And building your own solution can come with many obstacles. Companies that usually choose to develop a home-grown system rather than buying pre-built software argue that their business is unique, with specific goals and customizations that commercially available time tracking solutions fail to meet. Perhaps they feel like an off-the-shelf solution won’t meet their security needs or won’t be able to track the specifics that are important to their organization.

These firms require a scalable solution that can be localized across groups or locations, is mobile-ready, and configurable as per their requirements. Some vendors may not offer these options, leaving the idea of building a tool as the seemingly best option.

But while many time tracking software options may lack some or more of these qualities, many vendors have come a long way in providing pre-built software that can be extremely customizable for your specific needs. A comprehensive time tracking suite like Replicon is flexible, configurable, scalable, secure, modern, and mobile. It can plug and play with any ecosystem, support any unique business processes, and provide a hassle-free experience to customers.

In contrast, building your own time tracking tool has risks and costs associated with it. Organizations need to forecast the impact and compare the costs, benefits, and business implications of choosing to build their own time tracking software.

Risks of Building a Time Tracking Tool

Most companies do not recognize all the risks they are likely to face when building a time tracking solution from scratch. Developing your own time tracking software has its risks. Therefore, before you decide to proceed with this option, here are a few factors you must consider beforehand:

  1. It is custom-made, which means it is tailored to your current requirements. So, when you need more features in the future, you will have to put in additional workforce and efforts to do it. As service companies work on billable hours, adding features will be an additional cost to the company.
  2. Home-grown software also requires constant communication with the software development and implementation team, which means your resources will have less time to focus on other important work.
  3. The cost of developing time tracking software will depend upon the features you require. As per industry estimates, the total cost of ownership (TCO) is often two to three times the initial estimate.
  4. Any software requires lifelong maintenance, which means you need a dedicated team to support and fix any future issues resulting in potential extra expenses.
  5. The development can take a long time. Some features can be created in a few months, but others may require years. The entire process will take a lot of research and testing, and you will still not be sure whether it will give the desired results.

Buying vs. Building an Employee Time Tracking Tool

While building up a completely customized system may sound tempting, the stress of on-time delivery and resource availability make it a cumbersome and lengthy process. By the time your solution will be ready, the company goals and financials may have shifted significantly, and it could be too late to make any adjustments.

And if the system is not able to adapt to the changing needs of your business, you will have to keep building up a new system or keep updating the existing one every few cycles, which means a continuous investment of resources, efforts, and cost. In contrast, for a pre-built system, the vendor will provide the updates and maintenance as per the latest requirements.

Choosing between building new and pre-built customizable software should not come down to the flip of a coin. It should rather be a calculated decision. Here are few reasons why buying a leading solution is better than building one:

Lower Risk: Any home-grown software will not match the level of functionality, reliability, and stability found in a leading solution provider’s software, as they have been in the business of developing solutions for tracking employee time for a long time. These solutions, like Replicon, have spent countless person-hours and millions of dollars to ensure that their products are hassle-free. Moreover, customers can also check out free trials to judge whether the solutions will meet their needs or not.

Faster Return on Investment: You can quickly install, add users, and start using the software. Cloud delivery also makes the software available anywhere and anytime, which provides excellent flexibility to its users. Faster implementation will accelerate the return on investment too.

Maintenance and Support: The other pillars of hassle-free experience include seamless upgrades and maintenance, as well as a superior customer experience. With a software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery model, the provider will take care of all the software upgrades and maintenance with zero downtime.

Developing and maintaining a home-grown solution can take focus away from a company’s business priorities. However, by choosing a pre-built solution like Replicon’s time tracking solution, companies can concentrate on their business without worrying about anything else. More than 1.5 million people use our award-winning solutions in over 7,800 organizations across 70 countries. We help customers manage better workforce attendance, expenses, projects, professional services teams, and shared services resources.

To learn more about how using a digitized and modern time tracking tool can help your organization, watch our free webinar.

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Surbhi Bharati
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Surbhi Bharati
Surbhi is Content Marketing Manager at Replicon. She is a learner with a curiosity for new technologies. Replicon provides award-winning products that make it easy to manage your workforce. With complete solution sets for client billing, project costing, and time and attendance management, Replicon enables the capture, administration, and optimization of your most underutilized and important asset: time.
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