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gorillapaws's avatar

Timeclock in small office: physical machine vs. software?

Asked by gorillapaws (30612points) February 7th, 2012

The time clock in our office broke. I’m trying to figure out the best solution for replacing it. Software seems like the obvious approach because of it’s flexibility and ease of importing/exporting data, but there may be issues with that solution that I haven’t considered. Are there major disadvantages to using a software time clock vs. a hardware one? Any caveats, disaster stories, etc?

Have any of you had to make the decision between a physical and a software time clock? For those using a software product can you make a positive recommendation for it (or warning to stay away from something you’ve had a bad experience with)? Our office machines are running Windows 7, and I’d prefer to go with a software product that you pay for once instead of a monthly fee to “rent” the software.

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8 Answers

XOIIO's avatar

Why not the electric ones that you just punch a number into?

srmorgan's avatar

You should be able to find a card reader that your employees can swipe when they enter or leave the premises. This will tie into a computer that will track time and do all the software things you want it to do. This is if you have an issue about people coming in late or early or working unauthorized overtime.

The first thing I would do in terms of software selection is to contact your payroll vendor if you are using an outside service and see what interfaces directly with your payroll. Saves a bunch of conversion time and creating software interfaces.

No one should buy one of those time clocks where you insert a card, if that is what broke in your office

WestRiverrat's avatar

It depends on what percentage of your employees have access to a computer. Obviously an accounting firm would have different needs than a welding shop. Also do you want to dedicate one machine to be the timeclock or have the timeclock available at all the workstations.

If you decide software, check with your payroll software provider for recommendations.

I disagree with @srmorgan, there are places where the card time clocks are better suited than software on a machine. Greasy hands can ruin a computer running the software in short order, whereas a card punch will survive dirty environments better than software.

srmorgan's avatar

@WestRiverrat I see your point. I agree that using a traditional PC with a keyboard could be an issue as you state.

I was CFO of a small manufacturer and we had our best results when we switched over to a card reader that the employees “swiped” when entering or leaving the premises.
It allowed us to track lateness, if someone came in too late a supervisor had to enter the swipe using his or her card which granted privileges. The software was very flexible. We could enter missed punches, charge missed time as PTO at our discretion.
And this was vintage 1995 software. There must be much better products out there.

We used it for exempt employees too including all executives. Although we got some resistance, it gave us visibility into when everyone came and went and let us know who might not be in the building at a given time.

And these things are cheap.


gorillapaws's avatar

We’re a small surgical practice with 12 employees at the moment. Nobody would be using a computer with greasy (or bloody) hands, and we’ve got at least one computer per employee, so that’s not an issue. Although it might still make sense to have one machine so we don’t’ have to deal with syncing issues, and potentially paying for many licenses.

We did check into using a product from our payroll company, but they seems to be overcharging because of the convenience. Thanks for sharing your thoughts thus far.

Bellatrix's avatar

Sometimes, I might come into my office, go and make a cuppa and then get sidetracked by people along the way and end up having impromtu discussions about work issues. If you connect the timeclock to people’s computers, that work sort of won’t be registered. The employee can’t really say “sorry, don’t talk to me, I am not logged onto my computer yet”.

srmorgan's avatar

The more I think about this I am convinced that you need to get some type of card reader at each of your entrances which shows when people come and go. Bar code readers are so cheap now.
Your employees are used to having barcodes on their keyrings (supermarket “savings ” card and the like so flashing a little tab against a bar code reader is no big deal for anyone.

The technology is cheap and the software should be the same.

The only point about using your payroll vendor’s software is that you get a simple interface. With 12 employees, entering payroll hours in simple. Doing it for 30 or more gets to be a pain and a waste of time for whoever does the payroll.

I am retired now, if I was still in the workplace I would have some better ideas for you.


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