Keeping track of employee working hours is a vital part of any business with a pay structure centered around an hourly pay rate. While mechanical time clocks are accurate enough for recording work hours, a time clock controlled by software can keep records in an easily readable format, and many software programs can not only keep track of work times but use those times as data for accounting functions as well.
The actual use of a time clock that’s linked with computer software is no different than the use of a traditional mechanical punch-type time clock. The employee places his card into the system, which then logs the time that he entered the premises for work. After work, the employee clocks out in the same manner. Instead of a traditional punch card, modern computerized time clocks use a swipe card or even the employee’s handprint instead. The entry and exit times, as well as the time spent working, are then stored for data processing.
Processing the Data
With a software-based system, the data from the time clocks no longer requires the labor of calculating the time worked or the payment for the workers. The software records the employee’s name and times worked, as well as the pay rate, with total pay calculations that include any adjustments necessary due to overtime rates. All of the resulting information is available for viewing by authorized personnel using a variety of variables. For example, the software can display time worked according to employee name, the time clocked in by workers by section or division, time worked by employees in a certain pay range, or whatever other variables are placed into the system. Because the data is digital, it can be saved indefinitely for easy recordkeeping.
The greatest benefit of time-clock software is the quick data crunching that saves the need for manual recordkeeping. This means that you can assign the employee who would have otherwise done the calculations to other duties. The computer also reduces the chances of mistakes in payments that can cause over- or underpayment for workers. In addition, using time-clock software that relies on a handprint, fingerprint or swipe card reduces the problem of “time theft,” where one employee clocks in for a colleague, making the system more accurate in reflecting actual employee attendance.
Choosing a Software Package
There are many time-clock software applications available, and choosing the right one for your business depends on the type of system that you feel most comfortable with using. The combination of software and hardware is one of the biggest considerations when selecting a software package. MinuteHound’s time-clock software, for example, relies on a USB fingerprint device plugged into a computer. Employees press their finger into the device, and if it matches the encrypted fingerprint record, an entry is recorded in the computer, logging the employee into or out of work. It’s a simple system, but limited to a single location. TimeClick uses a system that’s a bit less limited by location. With TimeClick, an employee signs into the system from a computer within a selected network. This allows the employer to set up computers through an organization, covering multiple entrances, or in businesses where every worker uses a computer, allowing workers to clock in and out directly from their desks. Virtual Time Clock is completely computer driven like TimeClick and requires employees to enter a PIN. Virtual Time Clock integrates with an external accounting program such as QuickBooks for data storage and payroll computations. It also has real-time functions, allowing you to see at a glance which employees are currently at work, on breaks or off for the day.
Larry Simmons is a freelance writer and expert in the fusion of computer technology and business. He has a B.S. in economics, an M.S. in information systems, an M.S. in communications technology, as well as significant work towards an M.B.A. in finance. He’s published several hundred articles with Demand Studios.