One activity all businesses share is time tracking. However, while some companies need a full-fledged time-tracking system that keeps an accurate account of how all employees are spending their work time, other businesses, such as restaurants, salons, and other retailers and professional services, require only a way to track appointment booking, clock workers in and out, and get reports on how effectively the company is utilizing its staff..
A study conducted by AffinityLive of time-tracking practices in U.S. businesses found that manual, memory-based time-tracking costs the U.S. economy 50 million work hours each day, which is the equivalent of $7.4 billion in lost productivity every workday. By contrast, a study by McKinsey & Company determined that automated time-tracking can boost a company’s profitability by 20 percent to 30 percent.
It is clearly in a business’s best interests to ensure its time-tracking procedures are as accurate and automated as possible. Keeping an accurate account of work hours benefits employees by eliminating time-tracking errors that cost them money. In particular, retailers benefit from using POS systems that not only record the time employees work but also let them set permissions for each of the many roles a worker may fill in the course of a workday.
Comparing and Contrasting Time Management Software and Staff Scheduling
There’s much more to time tracking than simply preparing payroll checks. PCMag.com points out that time management is critical to nearly all of a business’s operations, no matter how large or small the company may be. Modern time-tracking systems automatically associate work time to specific projects, contracts, and invoices to enhance the accuracy and timeliness of billing and other financial records.
Time-tracking applications link to accounting software, shift-scheduling applications, and other employee-tracking programs. Cloud-based time trackers allow small and medium-size businesses to create custom time-tracking solutions quickly and inexpensively. Most importantly from a productivity and profitability perspective, modern time-tracking apps report on the intervals at which employees work at specific tasks rather than the total time spent on them. This provides managers with greater insight into how employees are spending their workdays so they can identify activities that can be completed more efficiently.
Businesses need to determine whether they need a full-featured time management system (TMS) that closely tracks and categorizes work activities through the day, assigns time to project codes, and integrates with their billing and payroll operations. For many retailers and other small businesses, this level of time tracking may be overkill.
In many instances, a business’s time-tracking needs can be met via a POS system that includes staff and appointment scheduling that allow managers and staff to adjust daily and weekly schedules based on availability. Such systems automate timesheet management and provide managers with reports indicating the sales performance of each employee as well as how labor costs are impacting the company’s profitability.
Features to Look for in Staff Time Management Software
Compared to old-fashioned paper timesheets and punch cards, today’s staff time management software includes features that track nearly all aspects of the business’s operations. Business News Daily highlights the expanded features of time-management applications, including the ability to generate and assign schedules automatically, track each employee’s paid time off, and report on the amount of time workers spend on specific tasks.
These are among the features of staff time management software that help companies keep more accurate records and make their employees more productive:
- The ability to clock in and out of work using a web browser or mobile app.
- Use of fingerprints, facial scans, or other biometric measurement to identify workers and prevent “buddy punching.”
- Geotechnology such as “geofencing” to specify the locations from which employees are able to punch in or out. This feature ensures that workers are where they are expected to be rather than logging hours from their homes, for example.
- The ability to generate shift schedules and assign workers to those shifts automatically.
- A feature that lets employees request time off and managers approve the requests from within the program.
- Automatic alerts sent to managers when employees approach overtime or when some other condition is met.
- The ability to generate labor reports showing employee hours worked, wages, schedules, and other data.
- Integration with payroll services.
- A dashboard that shows managers at a glance which employees are on the clock and which are punched out.
Such full-featured time-management systems come with a higher price and steeper learning curve than the more straightforward scheduling and employee management and reporting functions included in modern POS systems. Restaurants, salons, retailers and professional services rarely need to pay for the level of time-tracking that lawyers, accountants, electricians, plumbers, and other professions with billable hours require.
Tips for Making Time Management Work for Your Business
The best staff time management software in the world will be useless to a business if employees aren’t willing or able to take advantage of its productivity-boosting features.
To ensure a company’s time-management solution meets its needs, it must consider carefully the time-tracking and scheduling features that will boost the effectiveness of its operations—without breaking the bank.
An added bonus of staff time management software for small and medium-size businesses is the valuable data the systems generate about how efficiently the business is operating. Software Advice explains that POS systems are often the most effective scheduling and time-management choice for retailers because they offer the perfect mix of features for their needs:
- Easily add employees to the system.
- Match work schedules with forecasted activity.
- Generate reports that indicate who your most productive employees are.
- Provide employees with easy access to schedules and other information via mobile devices..
The last thing a growing small or midsize business needs is to overspend for time-tracking features it won’t use to its fullest extent. To have a positive impact on the company’s bottom line, a time management system has to include all the features the business needs, and only the features it needs.
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