Five Questions to Ask When Evaluating Time Tracking Software

This is the number of search results that you’ll see when you type “Time Tracking Software” into Google’s search field!
How can you make sense of all this? What’s the best fit for you and/or your business? There are so many options, it can be overwhelming. Where do you begin?
These are five questions that will help you get started with your evaluation process.
1. Why do you track time?
It’s a simple question, but it’s often overlooked. These are the most common reasons to track your time:
It is not uncommon to need high precision for billing hour tracking. An attorney who bills in 6-minute increments is a classic example. Attorneys are often grouped with CPAs, consultants and freelancers who bill directly for their time and need to keep track of it.
The project tracking system is used to measure the hours spent on a given project. Firms and individuals who bill on a fixed-price basis will often keep track of their time on each project to gauge the profitability of an engagement.
2. How complex is your timekeeping?
The more clients or projects you have to keep track of, the more difficult it will be to manage your time. Multitasking throughout the day can make it more difficult to track and assign your time accurately. Some systems are made for professionals who only work on one thing during the workday. Some systems are designed to accommodate multi-tasking professionals who are busier. We’ll be looking into the details of this in our next question.
3. Is time entry enough? Or should you consider automated time capture.
These are the classic ways to keep your time.
Remember the single threaded professional, who only works on one or two projects each day? Manual time entry and/or stopwatches would likely suffice in these cases.
What if you are too busy to accurately track your time? You should consider a product with automatic time capture in these situations. This is a relatively new feature that many people don’t know exists.
Automated time capture allows you to automatically capture and make sense your time as you work. Time capture software will track your time as you work, so you can check email, create documents, edit spreadsheets, or visit websites. This is a great tool for multitaskers who need to keep track of multiple tasks.
4. What do you do with the time you have captured?
Where does your time go once it has been captured and/or entered? Is it enough to simply have it captured? Do you need to sync it with a project or billing system?
Consider your workflow and the “end game” of timekeeping. Take time tracking products to the test drive if you are able so that you can see how it would work.
5. What level of collaboration is necessary among our team to use this time data?
Software that allows collaboration between members of a team is also important if you are a manager or member of a team. Managers may not be able to view the time data of individual team members. You may also want team members to be in a position to view and collaborate on each other’s data.
These preferences may be specific to your company, team, or you. A timekeeping system, for example, will allow the manager see what everyone is doing. This could be exactly what you need, or it might be the exact opposite. Only you can know your business and team.
Again, I highly recommend a test drive, especially one that includes other members of the team. Nothing is too small.