If you’re shopping for a solution to track your employees’ work time and attendance, you know you’ve got a lot of options. Whether you’re considering automating your time and attendance for the first time, or you’re trying to replace an old system you’ve outgrown, you’ll be faced with a wide array of solutions.

With many vendors trumpeting their latest-and-greatest technology, sometimes the focus slips from the basics.

No matter if you’re upgrading or starting fresh, here are six core considerations you should keep in mind when evaluating time and attendance solutions. Make sure your chosen system:

  1. Comes from a credible vendor. Time and attendance, workforce management, employee time tracking… whatever you call it, these days many prudent business managers are taking a closer look at their existing time tracking solution. Both federal and state labor departments are scrutinizing payroll practices, just as companies are looking harder than ever for ways to increase efficiency and cut costs.

    As a result, new vendors are rushing into the time and attendance market, believing there’s money to be made in offering time tracking products. Some new time and attendance vendors have traditionally offered other types of business software solutions and think they can just “tack on” a time and attendance solution. Others are completely new to the field.

    Wage and hour laws are complex, and even unintentional violations can prove expensive. Make sure any system you’re contemplating is backed by a vendor with a proven track record in producing time and attendance solutions that meet all the requirements of state and federal laws.

  2. Works in your physical environment. Biometric systems offer distinct advantages, such as the elimination of costly “buddy punching.” We recommend a biometric system for most businesses. However, biometric systems aren’t appropriate for all work environments.

    For instance, a fingerprint-based biometric system may encounter problems if your employees have very grimy, greasy or dirty hands, or if they are prone to nicking or cutting their fingers in the course of work. In that event, you may want to choose another type of biometrics, such as a hand-scan, or choose a badge or PC-punch system.

    Beyond that, if your environment is exceptionally dusty, subject to temperature extremes or has unreliable or nonexistent electric power, an automated software-based system may not work well at all. Dust, dirt, extreme heat or cold can adversely affect the electronics, even causing premature system failure.

    If that’s the case, you should locate your terminals in a clean, protected area (if you have such an area available) or consider a different time and attendance tracking solution entirely. In harsh environments, for example, we often recommend a heavy-duty traditional punch clock such as the Acroprint Model 125 or Model 150.

  3. Allows employees to clock in and out quickly and easily. It doesn’t matter how sophisticated your time tracking system is; you won’t get maximum benefit unless your employees actually use the system. To minimize employee resistance, clock in / clock out points need to be conveniently situated, and the system must be fast and simple to use.

    For example, our timeQplus terminals feature Ethernet connections, making it easy to position multiple terminals where you need them. They also offer USB ports, so you can collect data from the terminal using a USB thumb drive. This allows you to locate terminals even in locations where you can’t connect to a computer or network.

    Clocking in or out is as easy as putting your finger briefly on a scanner pad or passing a badge in front of the terminal. Our terminals also offer a keypad alternative so employees can still clock in quickly and get right to work, even if the forgot their badge or their fingerprint won’t scan.

    Our web-based AcroTime online time and attendance system offers similar benefits, and adds a mobile add and a telephony option. Both are particularly useful for organizations with a mobile workforce. The telephony feature permits employees to clock in and out over any phone (even landlines).

  4. Integrates with your payroll system. Many time and attendance systems can automatically total employee work time. Make sure your chosen system also includes an export format for your payroll software or service.

    Automatic data export will help reduce the resources necessary to process your payroll. It will eliminate clerical and data-entry errors. It will maximize the savings and benefits you realize from your investment.

  5. Offers robust reporting capabilities. A major benefit of automated time and attendance is the ability to review employee time data on the fly, in whatever format makes sense for you and your business. Make sure the system you choose offers a variety of reporting options.

    For quick and easy review of your data, your system should offer a number of pre-built reports. These reports can allow you to quickly identify employees who are close to incurring overtime, easily review workgroup or departmental hours on the fly, see who’s in and who’s out at any given time and more.

    The system should also offer various filters and other customization options to let you tailor how you view data to meet your needs. Depending on your business reporting requirements, you may also find it useful to seek out a system that offers the ability to create complete custom reports just for you.

  6. Scales to accommodate business growth. According to surveys, the average business keeps their time and attendance system for seven to ten years. Much can change with your business in that length of time.

    It might be tempting to opt for a bargain-basement system that only meets your current needs. However, migrating to a new system just because you’ve outgrown the old one could be disruptive, expensive and time-consuming. It’s better to choose a system that can easily scale to accommodate future business growth.

The time you spend now evaluating your options can save you countless hours of frustration and wasted dollars in the future. With a little forethought, you can equip your business with a time and attendance system that not only saves you time and money on payroll processing today, but that can also continue to meet your business needs far into the future.

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