The Best Time Tracking Software of 2020

Andrei Țiț
Feb 12, 2018 · 13 min read

If you’re here, it means that you’re looking for time tracking software that you will use yourself or with your team. But choosing one or even picking a few to try out can be a confusing and daunting task with more than 100 apps available out there.

To save you precious time, we did the hard job of in-depth market research and app testing and came up with a list of 11 time tracking software that are “la crème de la crème”.

The time-tracking tools that made our list are:

  • Paymo — full-featured work management app with time tracking and accounting features to help you manage projects from start to finish
  • Harvest — a time tracking and invoicing tool to ease project delivery and billing
  • TSheets — a solution paired with facial recognition for employees who work outside of the office
  • Toggl — time tracker, visual reports, and team insights for any company size
  • Hubstaff– time tracker that monitors your activity by taking random screenshots of your desktop
  • Timely — tool that tracks time and creates schedules and automatic timesheets simultaneously
  • TimeCamp — time tracking and invoicing app with a robust list of integrations
  • TrackingTime — a tool for tracking time on recurrent tasks and scheduling repeating events
  • Time Doctor — automatic time tracking, payroll module, and desktop screenshots feature in a single app
  • RescueTime — block distracting websites and set goals to improve your productivity through time tracking
  • Workpuls — employee monitoring tool with automatic time tracking capabilities

Why is time tracking important

If you’re not yet convinced about the utility of time tracking, have a look at the following benefits:

  • Identify non-essential tasks: You don’t have the necessary time to spend on just any activity. Time tracking can help you replace unimportant tasks with productive ones. You can export this data into reports and timesheets, so you can use them for your next projects to avoid wasting time. This is another reason why you should pair time tracking with task management. It’s even better if these two features are part of the same native app to avoid data clutter.
  • Improve time estimates: You can use previously tracked time entries as the main indicator for your future projects. Through them, you’ll make better estimates for following tasks and set more accurate deadlines for similar projects. Monitoring their evolution in time can help you find out if a worker will have time to finish a task based on their past activities. Also, underbooked employees can take charge of the others’ work for faster results if they have the right skills.
  • Get paid fairly: If you’re a paid-by-the-hour freelancer, time trackers will help you get the amount of money you deserve. It can eliminate guesstimates and awkward conversations with problematic clients who are unwilling to cooperate or hesitant to decide on a pay rate. You’ll have the evidence of your work securely stored online and measured second by second with all your time logs.

In our test we only looked at those apps that have time tracking as a native feature.

If you already use an app to manage your work but it doesn’t have a time tracking module, an integration with a time tracking app can be a solution. Yet, we don’t recommend this as it might bring additional complexity or increase your costs.

Time tracking works even better when you pair it with other features. You need task management to keep track of your daily duties and a functionality to create reports based on your work to measure performance and monitor past activity for future reference. Other nice-to-have functionalities, such as automatic time tracking, resource scheduling for teams, or accounting capabilities help the overall management of work by balancing your time, budget, and human resources. What is more, you’ll no longer have to switch between apps, tools, and techniques to complete your tasks.

Check out our task management guide to find out more about how you can prioritize and organize your tasks using relevant tools and techniques.

Key Criteria for Choosing Time Tracking Tools

Here are the seven key factors that we took into account when reviewing the time tracking software in this guide:

  • Core Features: The most important things that should influence your decision are the tool’s main features. Task management and reports are indispensable. Functionalities such as automatic time tracking or invoicing add value and can make the difference between a great app and one that will do the job for the moment. Also, teams can use resource scheduling along with time tracking, but this feature is useless for individuals. Before choosing a final product, talk to your team and find out what their own needs are besides the requirements of your project.
  • Onboarding process: We’ve gone through each step of the onboarding process to see exactly how easy it is for a user to get acquainted with a new tool. Some perks of the onboarding process include tutorials, guides, customer support, free resources or templates, and other helpful features that can help you start faster. Why bother about it? Because you’ll be able to use the time tracking app to its full potential from the very beginning only through a clear and detailed onboarding process.
  • Cost: Think about your existing budget and what you want to pay for. Some tools charge more for additional users, so you’ll need to consider the number of active users on the app at the same time. Don’t forget to count the extra costs that you might encounter during the onboarding of new employees or the transferring of existing project data, documentation, and team schedules into the platform. Also, keep a close eye on any special offers from time to time.
  • Support: You might have to resort to customer support at some point regardless of how prepared your team is when it comes to tech skills. Support for the product should be easy to access so you can get help quickly. Examine the available languages to avoid any miscommunication problems. Pay attention though — the degree of offered support can rely on your subscription level. For some apps, talking to an Account Manager might only be available with premium plans, so consider how much money you are prepared to commit.
  • Reviews: Even though every tool works in distinct ways for each business, you can take a look at what existing users have to say. Capterra and G2 are two reliable user review platforms that aim to provide objective user feedback. These reviews serve as a basic orientation of aspects that you must analyze and test yourself before deciding if a tool is a right fit for your business.
  • Awards: Some of the best products win awards. That is unless we’re dealing with a new app that has had no chance to be nominated for one yet. The press page of each tool often highlights the awards they’ve picked up over the years and the reasons for receiving them.
  • Extra features: Think of any other feature that you might need, anything from GPS tracking and integrations, to a timesheet approval system, a payroll function, or even a clean or colorful design to keep your team engaged.

Tip: Take these seven factors and grade them according to your needs. First, create a spreadsheet. Then, write down your must-have features (give 5 points for each one), nice-to-have features (2 points for each one), and the bonus features (1 point for each one). Add it all up to create your own rating of the tools and make your own top to test before choosing one.

Paymo

Paymo is a project management, work management, and time tracking software that helps management professionals and freelancers deliver projects throughout their whole lifecycle.

The company has been around since 2008 and started out initially as a time tracking and invoicing app. Gradually, based on user feedback, it turned into a full-featured project management platform.

With users from over 50 countries, Paymo is an established app that around 4,000 companies and 40.000 freelancers (~70,000 users) rely on to help manage their time and projects from start to finish. Its main goal is to help you keep all of your work in one single place while simplifying your workflow for more efficient task management.

Best For:

Small and medium businesses, agencies, consultants, law and architecture firms, and freelancers who handle multiple client projects and want to be able to track their time, monitor finances, and organize resources from one place.

Why We Say It’s Awesome

A modern and intuitive software for project-based businesses that helps your team manage projects through their entire lifecycle. Plan and schedule your projects, collaborate with your team, share files, track time and make sure you stay on budget.

Top 5 Features

1) Availability: You can decide exactly how and from which device you want to track time. Paymo is available as a web timer, desktop app, mobile app (works offline too), and even as an automatic desktop time tracker (PaymoPlus). There is also an Adobe integration for creatives that wish to track their time within the Adobe products, without having to switch between different apps.

2) Resource Scheduling: To help you calculate the resources required to deliver a project, view your team’s activity. This can help who’ll be working on what and when or check user capacity to avoid employee burnout. Manage your resource allocation easily and give your staff the right tasks based on what they’ve done in the past.

3) Timesheets area: See and manage your time entries on a daily/weekly/monthly/agenda basis, add bulk time, or import time directly from your bookings.

4) Time reports: Create time reports based on tracked time and get a detailed look at how you or your team’s time is spent. Choose from flexible grouping, subgrouping in a reporting hierarchy, project status support, and include project IDs & task IDs for more personalization.

5) Accounting: Generate invoices based on the amount of time spent on tasks or projects, track expenses, or create estimates for clients. Also, you can create invoices from scratch and use the integrations with payment gateways such as PayPal, PayPal’s Payflow, Stripe, Authorize.net, and Stripe.

How Easy It Is To Get Started

During the onboarding process, you’ll choose your preferred use of the tool (plan projects, track time, manage tasks, or invoice). There are 9 different project templates you can pick from to get started with work. There’s also a detailed Knowledge Base to explore the more advanced features. Additionally, there is a client community forum and a detailed Knowledge Base to explore more advanced features. Our Customer Success Managers who can help you from the account activation throughout the entire onboarding process will also contact you.

Pricing

There are 3 pricing plans you can choose from according to the size of your business and features you might need:

  • Free (for 1 user: freelancers and individual users): Simple To Do Lists for your tasks, Kanban Boards to get a more visual look at your tasks, Meta Kanban, Time Tracking to keep you motivated, Desktop & Mobile Apps to track time offline, Adobe CC Extension for creatives, and Reporting. Also, you’ll get 1GB Storage, File Sharing, Community Support to solve any issues that you might encounter, API, 3 invoices/account to get a feel of how easy it is to connect your data to the invoices you send to your clients.
  • Small office ($11.95/user/month): You can get the Free plan features + Invoices, Estimates & Expenses, Advanced Task Management to help you manage larger projects and teams, Project Templates to avoid wasting time with the basics, Dashboard to oversee your project and team activity, and 50GB to store your files. You’ll also be able to use Advanced Reporting for your managers and give a detailed overlook at the project’s status and results to your clients, Integrations with other tools you’re using.
  • Business ($18.95/user/month): You can get the Small office plan features + Resource Scheduling for maintaining control of your team’s activity, Gantt Charts, Portfolio Gantt Chart, and Online Remote Assistance to quickly answer your inquiries. This plan also gives you unlimited storage so you’ll never worry about where to keep your data.

There is a 20% discount offered for annual payments.

The app also supports schools, colleges, and universities around the world by offering free subscriptions for 1 year without any feature limitations. Paymo also supports anyone who wants to do good for the society as nonprofit organizations are eligible for a 50% discount.

Verdict

We’re proud to have scored a 4.5/5 on Capterra and 4.5/5 on G2. The app has also won a series of awards including: Most Usable PM Software (G2’s Project Management Usability Index | Summer 2017), The Time Tracking Software with the Smoothest Implementation (G2 Summer 2017), The Best ROI PM Software (G2 Summer 2017), The PM Software with the Smoothest Implementation (G2 Summer 2017), and the Great User Experience Award 2017 (FinancesOnline).

Paymo has the best free plan for individuals and could easily rank in the top three software in terms of time tracking functionality. The advanced task management features, resource scheduling, and accounting modules have you covered if you want to manage projects from start to finish along with your team. Most noteworthy, you can choose any method of time tracking you want. The platform could be even better if it had features like GPS tracking, Timesheet approval, or a Payroll system in the near future.

Harvest

Large companies, smaller businesses, and freelancers can all use Harvest. Launched in 2006, they aim to do things the Harvest way. This implies being honest, giving back, innovating, and listening to customers’ needs among others.

Harvest offers time tracking solution and invoicing under the same roof. This tool connects both features so you can be paid based on the tracked time entries without exporting data to another system.

Best For:

Freelancers, small, medium, and large teams who are looking to integrate time tracking with their favorite tools.

Why They Say It’s Awesome

Time tracking software for those who value insight.

Top 5 Features

1) Time tracking and expense management: Track time for specific clients, projects, tasks, and staff members to maintain control of all the activities through a web timer. Don’t worry, you’ll get email reminders for when you leave it on for too long to fix this issue. If you forgot to start it though, add time in bulk to the weekly timesheets area. Bonus: Snap a photo and add it to an expense using the mobile app to offer proof of your spendings.

2) Team overview: Monitor who’s tracking time and when they’re working on a specific project, as well as who’s overworked to avoid burnouts. You can edit time entries and divide them into billable or non-billable hours for more detailed reports. You can also use the timesheet approval system for an enhanced team oversight.

3) Visual reports: Check time entries and compare them to the initial project budget to see if you’re on track. The reports also show you the sum you need to invoice to be profitable.

4) Invoicing module: Bill clients based on tracked time, send invoices via email, and get paid online through Stripe or PayPal. There’s also a native integration with Xero and Quickbooks that’s useful if you’re already using one of these apps.

5) Scheduling: Through their sister app, Forecast, you can book projects in advance and compare the time tracked in Harvest with the time scheduled in Forecast.

How Easy It Is To Get Started

After signing up you’ll receive a welcome email to start and create your first project. In parallel, you’ll also get access to free timesheet and invoicing templates, educational resources for time tracking, webinars (scheduled and recorded), and to a knowledge base with tutorials and step-by-step guides.

Pricing

There are 2 plans that you can choose from after the free trial expires, each adding more features:

  • Free: It’s for 1 person, 2 projects, and you get unlimited invoices and clients. You can’t upload a company logo, attach files to invoices, integrate with QuickBooks Online, or import data. When you sign up you’ll first receive the full-featured 30-day free trial. After this expires, you’re able to use the free plan unless you upgrade.
  • Pro: $12/person/month or $10.8/person/month (10% discount for annual payments): 2+ people, unlimited projects, unlimited clients, unlimited invoicing, timesheet approval system to also allow managers to have an overview of their team’s activity.

You’ll have to pay separately for the scheduling feature, Harvest Forecast. ($5/month, unlimited users and projects)

All plans include Time & Expense Tracking, Powerful Reporting, Unlimited Invoices and Estimates, Project Budget Alerts, Timesheet Approval, Integrations with 100+ Apps, Apps for iOS, Android & Mac, Bank-Level Security, and Phone and Email Support.

Availability: web, iOS, Android, Mac, and as a plug-in for Chrome and Safari.

Verdict

It seems that most users have a good opinion regarding Harvest since the tool got a 4.5 out of 5 (Capterra) and 4.3 out of 5 (G2).

If we were to select the best time tracking and accounting-based tools, Harvest would make our top three. Why? Because it’s a great example of a tool that blends time tracking with accounting features to ease project delivery and billing. What is more, their integrations with Xero and QuickBooks make it more convenient for users who already use those tools for accounting or bookkeeping.

We’re looking forward to the possible introduction of a Recurring Invoicing Module to make the entire payment and invoicing process with repeat customers easier. The tracker only shows your times after each minute has passed. Beginners who feel motivated if they see their seconds quickly passing would appreciate a more accurate timer that tracks each second of your work.

You can try this tool yourself with a 30-day free trial and test it along with its 100+ integrations or make use of its own API to configure your own one.

🔷Read the full list on our blog🔷

Paymo

Work Better, Together.

Andrei Țiț

Written by

I write, talk, pitch and promote tech products 🗣 Product Marketing @Paymo. Amateur photographer in my spare time 📷🔰

Paymo

Paymo

Work Better, Together.

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