If you employ remote employees, you may want to use a time tracking app to track their time.

Since you don’t see a remote employee walking in and out of your office, you may sometimes wonder how much time she is spending on your project. You want reliable information but you also want to protect her privacy.

Tracking time of workers is a basic need for most businesses. But for some businesses which bill clients by the hour, like digital agencies, software developers or freelancers, keeping track of time is critical to the success of the business.

If you are a small business owner and employ remote workers who you pay by the hour, you would want to know how much time workers are spending on your work so you can pay them correctly. Even if you were not paying by the hour, you would want to know where they spend their time and how productive they are.

For example, let’s say you have hired a programmer in another city (or country) to develop your software. How would you know how much time he spent developing your product last month so you can pay him correctly?

You would need a time tracking app to do that.

But a good time tracking app should go beyond just recording time. Depending on your business, you may want it to keep track of productivity, manage your tasks or help with invoicing. As the number of features increase, the software becomes more complex and expensive.

A good time tracking app can be a really helpful management tool.

If you search Google for time tracking apps, you will see several dozen listed in the search result. It will take you days to research all of them and find the one that is right for you.

Or you can spend next 10 minutes on this post to find the best time tracking app for your small business.

I review the following time tracking apps in this post:

Toggl
Harvest
Hubstaff
HiveDesk

 

Timecamp
Time Doctor
Hours
Timely

You will find detailed information about features, limitations, suitability for different businesses and price so you can select the one that is best suited for your small business.

Most of these started as a simple time tracking app for small businesses. But over time, they have added more features making the software more complex to use and expensive. It’s easy to understand why they would do it – larger companies, with hundreds of remote employees and complex needs can pay more than small businesses. So some of these apps have morphed into enterprise class software.

But some others have stayed true to their promise of serving small businesses. They have tried to keep the software simple by adding only those features that are needed by a small business. They have kept pricing affordable and still provide top class support.

So which of these is the right app for you? Let’s find out.

Toggl

Toggl Time Tracking App

Toggl is a popular time tracking app. It has lots of features, may be even more than what you need as a small business. It integrates with a large number of apps like Asana, Github and Freshbooks. The integrations allow you to track time in other apps making the entire process more efficient.

Toggl is great for large teams and enterprise, not so much for small businesses. It has features that make it suitable for managing large and complex teams. For example, you can create separate Workspace for each team in your company.

While integrations and complex team management features are great for large companies and teams, Toggl lacks some features small businesses need. There is no way to manage payroll or invoice your customers.

Since large companies have separate payroll and invoicing systems, it does not make sense to have it in the timesheet app. But many small companies want a time tracking software that can be used for timesheets, payroll and invoicing.

If you are a digital agency, VA provider or a small software developer, Toggl will not work for you.

Toggl has desktop version for Windows, Mac and Linux. It has a web app for online access. You can also use Toggl app on iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

You can use any version you want but desktop app is the most useful one. The desktop app can automatically track time your employees spend on different programs and websites. With the mobile app or web app version, you need to manually enter time, which limits the utility.

Toggl has more complex set up than other apps on this list. After you sign up, you need to create a workspace. A Toggl workspace is like a folder on your computer. You should keep all related projects, clients and timesheet data in one workspace. You can create multiple workspaces in Toggl.

Once you set up the Workspace, you can create projects and clients. You can assign one client to multiple projects. However, you cannot assign a project to multiple clients.

Once your project is set up, you can add tasks to it and assign those tasks to your team members or remote employees. Your employees will need to install the desktop version on their computers to track time automatically.

You can track time in Toggl desktop app automatically as well as manually. In the automatic mode, you enter a description for the task being tracked and select Workspace, Project & Task. Toggl will automatically create a timesheet entry for the time you spend on this task.

You can also create a manual timesheet entry by adding start and end time for the task.

A cool feature is Toggl’s ability to record and report your workday even when you are not using it to track time. The Timeline feature in Toggl desktop app Timeline records and displays your day in 15-minute intervals. Each 15-minute block shows you which applications and window you used and for how long. This is super helpful if you forgot to turn on automatic time tracking as you can get the information from the timeline.

You can categorize time in Toggl by client, projects and tags.

Toggl can generate some amazingly detailed reports that are visually appealing. The reports are very helpful if you want to use them for billing clients. You can check productivity reports for each project, client and employee.

Toggle is free for up to five users. You can use the free plan for basic time tracking. The reporting capability is rather limited in the free plan. I would not recommend it to anyone but individual users.

The paid plan starts at $10/user /month which is almost double of what some of the other apps in this list charge. The extra premium is for extra features that, as I said in the beginning, you may not need.

The Premium plan starts at $18/user/month and is beyond the budget of most small businesses.

Another drawback of Toggl is limited customer support. Since the company is focused on Enterprise customers, you need to shell out $49/user /month to get priority support. If you are small, you got to wait in queue to get support.

If all you want to do is track time and pay employees or invoice customers, then you should give Toggl a pass.

But if your needs are more complex because you have a very large team and several dozen projects / clients to manage, then Toggl may be for you.

Sign up for the 30-day free trial.

 

Harvest

Harvest Time Tracking App

Harvest is a good time tracking app option for medium to large teams. It can work for freelancers also but Harvest is expensive compared to other popular time tracking apps.

This is yet another tool that has become complex and expensive over the years. But if you have a larger team, need integration with other tools such as Jira, Slack and Basecamp, you should consider using Harvest.

After you sign up for a 30-day free trial account, the first thing you need to do is create a project.

You can assign a client to the project and also a unique Project Id. The project Id feature is useful if you manage several projects for the same client – a feature rarely needed by a small business.

You can set up the project as Time & Material, Fixed Fee or Non-Billable. You can set up a project level hourly rate or a resource level hourly rate. In the resource level setting Harvest will use billing rate specified for the person in preparing the invoice.

If you use Harvest to manage internal projects, like developing your website, then you will need to set the project type as non-billable.

Once the project is set up, you can create tasks within the project that you would assign to your remote employees or team members. First, you will need to add each person as a new user to Harvest. Then you can add people from your team to your projects. You can mark a team member as project manager so the person can track time and work of each person assigned to the project.

Remember that Harvest bills you separately for each employee so do not add employees who don’t need access to project information.

Once your team is et up in the project, employees can start entering their time sheets. Employees can use automatic time tracking using the Timer function or enter the time manually in a timesheet. Ideally, you want to use automatic time tracking to ensure accuracy of the timesheet.

One of the limitations of Harvest is its inability to monitor desktop activities like active application or web activity tracking.

Project managers can see project’s status in the dashboard and drill down for more details. Harvest can produce nice looking reports and graphs. You can export these reports using multiple options.

Harvest is expensive compared to other tools on this list. The free version is only for a single user and is limited to tracking two projects only. This makes it unsuitable for tracking time for even small teams.

You can create unlimited projects with the paid version but it costs a steep $12 / user / month. That makes Harvest one of the most expensive time tracking apps on the market.

The biggest advantage of using Harvest is its integration with more than 100 other apps. That may be a great thing for a larger company but as a small business owner, do you really want to pay for integrations you will never use?

Sign up for your 30-day free trial of Harvest App.

 

Hubstaff

Hubstaff - The Best Time Tracking App for digital agency

Hubstaff is one of the best time tracking apps. It’s great for freelancers and teams who need to bill clients. It has time tracking, reporting, integration with BaseCamp and in-built invoicing module.

Hubstaff is one of the most comprehensive time tracking software. It’s also quite affordable for a small business.

If you are a freelancer, virtual assistant or an agency that needs to keep track of time and invoice customers, Hubstaff is a great fit.  In fact, it’s a total solution for agencies and VA firms looking for end-to-end platform to manage their business. Think of it as a mini ERP for your agency or VA business.

You can also use Hubstaff for managing internal projects. You can track time, measure productivity and pay your remote employees using Hubstaff.

If you have several remote employees, you can use Hubstaff to manage your Payroll also. You can schedule staff time, assign weekly limits so people don’t go over approved budget and monitor their website visits while time tracking.

Start by signing up for the 14-day free trial. You don’t need a credit card to start the free trial.

After you sign up, you will receive in-app messages and live chat support for setting up your project, tasks and team members. Hubstaff support is top-notch and one of the best in the industry. But what I really like about them is the easy on-boarding process. You will receive a series of emails and chat messages within the app to provide step-by-step support.

Once you set up project, create tasks and invite remote employees, you are ready to start tracking time.

Your employees will need to download and install the Hubstaff client app for their operating system. They support all major operating systems. Once the client is installed, it can track employee activity on the computer including which websites they visit and which apps they use.

You can create unlimited projects and assign each employee to any number of projects. Employees select the project they are working on and the app automatically records time to the appropriate project. Managers can see how much time employees have spent on each project as well as activity level details for each employee.

Hubstaff software generates timesheet from the time tracking data so it’s reliable and accurate. It records screenshots to back up the timesheet data. So if you want to audit the timesheet, you can do so using the screenshots.

You can use Hubstaff to pay your employees. Payroll is a very useful feature for a small business as the software can automatically calculate pay biased on time tracked and the employee’s hourly rate. You can pay using Payoneer or Bitwage. It does not charge any transaction fee for paying your employees. However, the payment services you use may charge you a fee.

Another great feature is staff scheduling. You can use it to schedule your staff and track their timings. For example, if you use remote employees in different parts of the world to provide customer support, you can use the scheduling feature to assign shifts to each member.

The time tracker will email alerts to inform you if any employee is late or misses assigned schedule. This is great for companies that provide virtual assistants and on-call services.

The free version of Hubstaff is meant for single user. It’s great for trying time tracking features for longer than the 14-day free trial. It’s also great if you don’t need to pay or bill anyone and just want to track your personal time and productivity.

Hubstaff pricing starts at $5/mo/user with features suitable for managing internal projects where you don’t need to invoice anyone.

If you want the full agency ERP features, upgrade to the premium version for just $9/mo/user. That’s still cheaper than any other time tracking app with built-in invoicing and payroll.

Hubstaff has an incredible 60-day money back guarantee. You can get full refund if you ask for it within 60 days of starting your plan. That makes it totally risk free for you. You can read a detailed review of Hubstaff here.

 

Start your 14-day Free Trial today and see if Hubstaff is right for your business. No credit card needed. 

 

HiveDesk

HiveDesk - Best Time Tracking App for Software Development

HiveDesk is another popular time tracking app. It’s best suited for tracking time on internal projects. If you employ remote developers for your startup or remote employees for your digital marketing agency, then you should consider using HiveDesk. One limitation of HiveDesk, compared to Hubstaff, is that you cannot pay employees or invoice clients.

HiveDesk is not really meant for solo users or freelancers as even the starter plan includes 3 users plus one administrator.

When it comes to tracking time, HiveDesk is pretty similar to Hubstaff. You sign up for the free 14-day trial (no credit card needed) and then log into the online app. Here, you can set up projects and invite employees or remote workers. You can create unlimited projects in HiveDesk.

Once the remote workers download the client application on the computer, they are ready to track time with HiveDesk. When the remote worker starts working on your project, all she needs to do is check into the app. The app will automatically track time she spends on different projects.

If the worker is inactive for a certain amount of time set by you, the app will automatically check out the worker and stop tracking time. This features ensures that the remote worker cannot log time into timesheet just by starting the computer and checking in the app.

You can set hourly rate for each team member.

You can promote a team member to manager if you want to delegate the project management work to an employee.

HiveDesk generates useful productivity reports and timesheets. You can set up a distribution list for each report to send the report automatically to managers. Using productivity reports, you can see how each remote worker is performing on your projects.

A unique feature of HiveDesk is its ability to capture screen shots at random intervals. You can blur the screenshots if you want data privacy. It can also track keystrokes on employee computers.

You can use this information to audit the submitted timesheet. If you have a reason to doubt the integrity of a timesheet, you can check the screenshots and keystroke logs to verify it.

HiveDesk does one thing, that is track time, but does it really well. The software is simple and easy to use. HiveDesk reports are also easy to follow for anyone.

HiveDesk has a lightly different pricing plan. While most other time tracking apps are priced on a per user basis, HiveDesk plans are based on included number of users. While there are multiple plans to choose from, every plan works out to $5 / user / month. The cheapest plan starts at $15 / month for up to 3 users and unlimited projects.

HiveDesk pricing is quite affordable for small businesses with small to mid-sized remote teams.

 

Test Drive HiveDesk Time Tracking App Today

 

TimeCamp

Timecamp Time Tracking Software

Timecamp is another leading time tracing app. In terms of features and application, it competes closely with Hubstaff.

TimeCamp has a web application, desktop and mobile clients. The desktop application can track time automatically. You can also use the Chrome extension to track time directly into project management apps like Asana or Basecamp. Timecamp also integrates with many apps like Freshdesk and Buffer allowing you to track time inside those applications.

To start using Timecamp, sign up for free 30-day trial and log into the web application. You can setup your team and project in the web app.

You can add any number of users or employees to your Timecamp account. But remember, each active user will be billed separately so add only those employees who need access to projects.

After you have added employees, you can organize them in groups or departments. This is a very useful feature for larger businesses with multiple departments. Each department can have its own settings. You can even create child groups within a group to further subdivide a department into smaller teams.

Next, you create projects and tasks within those projects. You can assign tasks to individuals or groups and set timelines. If you are tracking billable work, you can set tasks as billable.

When an employee works on the task, she will be able to track time spent on it automatically using the desktop app or manually by using the timesheet function.

Timecamp has invested a lot of resources on integration with other apps used by small and mid-sized businesses. You can see the entire list of integrated apps here 

Timecamp also has a set of robust reports you can use to track team productivity, project progress and budget.

While there are a lot of features in Timecamp, it’s best suited for professional services companies. If you are a mid-sized digital marketing agency, consulting firm or software development company, then Timecamp is your thing.

Even though smaller companies can still use it, lack of direct payroll module and higher price are a turn off. Larger companies have their payroll system set up elsewhere so they may not need it inside their time tracking or timesheet app. But for smaller companies, that’s a big value/ That’s why I think Hubstaff will be a better fit for smaller companies.

Timecamp has an always free plan but it is limited to one user doing time tracking only.

Paid plans start at $7/month/ user for the basic plan. It includes time tracking, integrations and budgeting. The price listed on their site is $5.25/user / month but that’s only if you pay annually. Other time tracking apps like Hubstaff and HiveDesk list monthly prices.

Hubstaff also offers 2 months free with annual plans so if you prepay for the year, it will be $50/user /year compared to $66/user /year. $16 /user may not sound like a big number but it starts to add up as the number of employees increase.

Their top of the line with everything including invoicing is priced at $10/user/month, again $1 more than Hubstaff.

So why should you pay more for Timecamp?

If you are using other software that Hubstaff currently does not integrate with, then you should go with Timecamp. If your company is much larger and you want to be able to replicate your organization structure in the time tracking app, then Timecamp is the right product for you.

Start your 30-day free trial now.

 

Time Doctor

Time Doctor Time Tracking Software

Time Doctor is a time tracking app focused on teams. Even though they have a solo plan, there is no detail available on the site for it. Even the features page talks about features for teams. It gives me the impression that they don’t really want to sell that plan.

Like HiveDesk, Time Doctor is designed for tracking time only. It does not have an invoicing module to bill clients. It’s best used to track time of remote employees working for Software

Development, Customer Support & VA's, and Digital Agencies.

Time Doctor has a web app for managing your account and seeing reports. The desktop versions are used by remote employees to track time. There are mobile apps as well but these are best suited for account admins to see reports or for manually logging time spent away from computer. It’s not a good practice to allow your remote workers to log time manually using mobile app as it defeats the very purpose of tracking time accurately and reliably.

After you sign up for the 14-day free trial, you can log into the web app to set up your team and projects. You can invite as many remote employees as possible but you will need to pay for each remote employee.

After setting up the project, you can create tasks and assign them to your remote workers. The employees will need to download and install the desktop client from Time Doctor website. While most time tracking apps have clients for Windows, Linux and mac, Time Doctor has a client for Chrome OS but is missing Linux app. So if your team uses Chromebook, Time Doctor should be your preferred time tracking software.

The desktop client will automatically record time your employees spend on your tasks and projects. In addition to recording time, the software will also monitor websites and applications the employee is using. You can see reports generated by this feature to ensure employees are not using unwanted software or websites.

You can record screenshots and keystrokes also using the time Doctor desktop app. The screenshot feature is very useful for monitoring employees and auditing their timesheet. This is an optional feature and you or your account administrator must turn it on manually for each worker.

Employees have the option to delete the screenshots in case it captures a private or personal work such as their Facebook page. But deleting the screenshot also deletes associated time to ensure integrity of the timesheet.

Time Doctor has a limited free plan for single user. But I would not recommend signing up for it as you don’t get access to any reports.

For most small businesses, the best option is to sign up for the $9.99 / per user / month plan that is available on their pricing page. You will get access to all features and can keep adding new employees as you hire more.

Start your 14-day free trial. No credit card needed.

 

Hours

Hours iOS Time Tracking App

Hours App is relatively a new time tracking app that is slowly becoming popular.

It has a visual timeline, smart reminders, and generates beautiful reports. You can export reports to pdf or CSV. The Today view widget and timeline show  what you’ve worked on and the time gaps you missed. Hours does not have many integrations and is a simpler app than others on this list.

It has a very intuitive user interface that makes it a breeze to use. You can add clients, projects and tasks ad create timers to track time at task level.

Hour does not have a desktop app. You cannot automatically track time. You need to keep your iPhone with you and record your time manually. Every employee in your company must be using iPhone to use Hours.

This is a big limitation making it virtually useless for any serious time tracking need.

They don’t disclose pricing on the website. You first need to sign up for the free account and then upgrade to the paid plan. The downside to Hours is its price – at $8/person / month, it is quite expensive given its limited functionality.

I am not sure why you would want to use it but if you want to try it out, here is the link.

 

Timely

Timely Time Tracking App

Timely has taken a different approach to time tracking. It has a calendar to schedule tasks and a timer to track against the schedule. It is quite useful if you want to track how your team is doing against the plan in the calendar. You can also import meetings and schedules from other calendars like Google and Outlook.

By combining schedule with actual activity, Timely makes it easy for you to track profitability of each project. You can see in real time what was planned and how much has been logged against each project.

You can also assign different hourly rate to each person in the team to track the true cost / billable amount for each project.

The Timely user interface is beautiful; you will enjoy using it. You can use tags and subtags to track activities and phases in your projects. Timely also has an Apple Watch app in case you want to keep track of your projects on the go. But lack of desktop and Android versions is a serious drawback that limits its usability.

Timely is another time tracking app that has gone beyond just time tracking, a fact that is reflected in its price tag. If all you want is to track time spent by your team members on a project, it is an overkill.

Timely pricing starts at $7/ user / month for solo plans. Even though it’s a paid plan, it’s severely restrictive as you can create only 3 projects and saves your daily activities for only 30 days.

The next plan is $14 / month / user for up to 100 users. You can create unlimited projects but you can access daily activity data for only 60 days. If you want unlimited timeline data, you need to go for $21/user / month plan.

Timely is the most expensive time tracking app on this list reflecting their focus on larger, enterprise customers. They have lots of bells and whistles like an Apple Watch app which is totally useless for most users. If you are a small business, Timely is not for you.

Test drive Timely today.

 

 

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