If you are looking for a time tracking software then perhaps you would want to find some comparison to show you the best app without going into all comparison-related troubles. However, such articles may only complicate the situation, and here is why.
In writing the Selection Guide I researched a plethora of similar apps and noticed that all of them can be divided into several categories and compared within the requirements of a specific user. For instance, it is difficult to compare RescueTime and actiTIME as they are designed for completely different purposes. The first one measures your personal performance and has nothing to do with tasks and invoicing, and, to the contrary, the latter is designed to track your team’s work time and prepare invoices for your clients.
Here I would like to outline at least three main directions within which we can compare work time tracking apps.
1. Whose Time are You Going to Track?
If you are tracking your own time (for yourself or your client), then you should consider the following apps:
- RescueTime is designed to determine personal productivity and has no relation to projects, clients, invoicing etc.
- Chrometa is somewhat similar to RescueTime but is more suitable for tracking work time and client invoicing
- Fanurio is a downloadable Windows app that requires payment of monthly fees. It is as suitable for client invoicing as Chrometa is, but unlike the latter one, it does not analyze your time based on the apps you use.
- Timing is a fully autonomous app for Mac, which tracks user’s time spent on the computer.
- Daily is another app for Mac. It automatically tracks time, but users enter their activities manually.
For tracking time of remote employees (usually these include contractors who are not main team players) the following services may be handy:
- Screenshot Monitor is a simple service for tracking your freelancers’ activities and time. It does not track the apps your employees use. It only takes and records screenshots which makes it more difficult to analyze exactly what was the time spent on.
- Hubstaff also takes and records screenshots and tracks your freelancers’ time, but at the same time it integrates with PayPal and Payoneer to make it more convenient for you to pay your staff
- TimeDoctor also allows paying contractors, but at the same time it tracks apps and web-sites your employees are using
- Worksnaps is somewhat similar to Hubstaff, but unlike the latter, it tracks the apps used by an employee and can even record from such employee’s web camera. Unfortunately it cannot make payments to freelancers, but then it sports the client invoicing feature
Most of the remaining apps are suitable for tracking team’s time, here are just some of them:
- DeskTime allows you to track in real time your employee’s time-spending, to see who’s at work, who’s late etc. It is more suitable for full-time employees
- Paymo is a decent web app for tracking team’s time and invoicing
- actiTime provides you with ability to manage projects in addition to time tracking and invoicing features
- TrackingTime is a simple freeware for tracking time of your team members, though without invoicing feature
2. Shall You Spy on Your Employees?
What’s important to you? Is it simply tracking the amount of time your employee (or yourself) has spent on a particular task or is it tracking your employees’ (or your) activities during the execution of such a task? Time tracking software selection process also depends on these two factors.
At the same time it is not always connected with the lack of trust towards your employees. Many systems track the apps you use to help you track your time. For instance, if you often switch between projects, then you won’t feel comfortable every now and then stopping your timer and starting it for another task. In these circumstances such services as RescueTime, Chrometa, Paymo, ManicTime and other might be useful because they determine the task you worked on by analyzing the app view and its window header.
However, some services are even more advanced in this respect. For instance, Hubstaff and TSheets can track GPS coordinates of employees, and Worksnaps can even capture your employee’s webcam images. Perhaps this might also be handy in complex work time tracking scenarios.
3. SAAS or a Standalone Application?
Another factor that should be considered when choosing time tracking tools is whether you need a standalone application or a web service. Advantages of web services are clear, but they require monthly fee, whereas a standalone app is a one-time investment.
Examples of standalone apps include Fanurio, OfficeTime, Visual Time Analyzer and ManicTime. The first two support various platforms, and the rest are working only on Windows. Therefore, although the possibility of paying once and using forever is an attractive one, in some cases the payback is platform limitations and sometimes synchronization issues (OfficeTime).
And what if you would like to take advantage of a web service, but for security reasons you cannot allow your information to leave the premises of your offices? In this case the most suitable option for you is actiTime that can be installed within your internal network as an on-premise solution.
It should also be noted that ManicTime being a standalone app also provides an installable web service that can help you access all the information about work time of all of your employees.
In this article I reviewed only three directions in selecting work time tracking software. There are many more directions reflected as questions in our Time Tracker Selection Guide. Hope it will help you to make the best choice.
If you have any questions, please use comment section to ask them. Thank you!