What to expect in a good time tracking application? Try this!
Wondering what to look for when choosing a timesheet system? Nice icons? Lots of menus? Or simplicity? Actually, you should focus on the features that fit your company needs, regardless of whether they look pretty or not. Of course, it's always nice to have a professional product that also fits your needs.
FIRST CRITICAL QUESTION: The first question you should ask yourself is whether you need time tracking for client billing or project tracking. This is split into those two critical areas. Which of those two areas is most important to you? Or are they both important? Is your company a service-based organization or manufacturing? These questions are important because the timesheet product you choose must be strong in the areas you use the most. If you are billing hourly time to clients, look for things like billing rates, timesheet, time logs, and invoicing strengths. If you are a manufacturing company that simply tracks tasks, look for task hierarchies, roll-ups, estimates-verses-actuals, percent complete, and other project related features. We'll try to break them down here.
See the Tools menu for employee billing rates and client billing rates. Each project can have a different billing rate for each employee or category. Once you assign these, employees can enter timesheet hours against client tasks. Client rates and costs will automatically be calculated and become immediately available for client invoices. Just choose a client and a date range, and all the time and expenses are included on the invoice. You can then print out the RTF document as a PDF and send it to your client. Simple!
If you are a manufacturing company, you'll want strong project tracking capabilities. (Actually, you may be tracking client projects and need strong task tracking features as well.) Look for employee availability charts that show when employees are scheduled to work on tasks. This helps you schedule work for future weeks and months.
In either case, you probably need a strong timesheet. Look for a hierarchical list of tasks that you can collapse and expand. Look for simple grid entry with weekly and pay period totals. Look for the ability to submit employee timesheets to their managers for approvals. And in addition to a solid timesheet, look for PTO accruals and expense tracking.