The Definitive Guide to Employee Time Tracking and Timesheet Software

by Rob Press, 7 minutes read
HOME blog the definitive guide to employee time tracking and timesheet software

Running a business means staying on top of multiple moving parts: operations, customer service, finance… With everything you have going on, it’s hard to manage two of the most important resources in your business: time and people.

Recording employee attendance, managing timesheets, and processing payroll doesn’t just eat up your time, it can be really expensive if you don’t get it right. Businesses lose thousands of dollars each year due to poor employee time tracking and inaccurate payroll.

Here’s the good news: you don’t have to subject your business to unnecessary costs. By arming yourself and your team with the right software, you can avoid the headaches that come with poor employee time tracking.

Read on for a handy guide outlining the ins and outs of timesheet software, timesheet software benefits, and what to look for in a solution.

What is timesheet software and what does it do?

Simply put, time tracking software (or timesheet software) is a computer program or app that helps your employees record when and where they work.

There are various apps on the market, and each solution comes with its own set of features. Timesheet software can:

  • Allow employees to easily clock in and out of work, creating automatic timesheets

  • Give managers live visibility around who is on shift, on break, or running late

  • Make it simple for managers to review and approve employee timesheets

  • Allow managers to export accurate timesheets to payroll software with one click

Why should you use timesheet software?

Tracking your staff’s time and attendance with pen and paper or a spreadsheet is clunky, time-consuming, and comes with a host of other problems.

Here are four common benefits that businesses gain when they switch to a more automated solution.

Timesheet software benefit #1: Reduce cost and save time

Employees recording work hours by hand, managers chasing them for timesheets, entering the information into a spreadsheet or payroll software, manually checking for errors. Sound familiar?

The right time tracking and attendance software can automate tasks like recording and calculating hours, so you don’t have to do the manual work.

Automated time tracking also leads to cost reduction. Doing scheduling and payroll by hand or using spreadsheets means more time. And that’s costly.

Construction company Azzurri Concrete replaced their pen and paper system with Deputy’s timesheet app.

“Before we had Deputy, the rostering and timesheets were being done by a number of people – from finance to operations to reception to allocations,” says Peter Martino, CEO. “It was done by about six people. Through putting systems in place with Deputy and filtering for each project, we’ve brought it down to a one-person job. Annually, it’s probably saved us about $160,000 – just in headcount.”

Timesheet software benefit #2: Minimize human error

Without the right time and attendance tracking solution human error can lead to costly payroll mistakes.

When staff record their own time — usually well after their actual shift — how can you be sure the numbers are right? When a manager has to manually check and handle the data, how can you be sure they haven’t missed something?

You can avoid all that uncertainty by using a time tracking solution that automatically records the info for you. This ensures accuracy in your records and saves you and your team from having to deal with mistakes.

Take a cue from University Veterinary Hospital who previously used Excel sheets to track attendance and hours worked. The process not only made it difficult to calculate labor costs, it also led to frequent mix-ups when it came to clocking in and out.

But after switching to an advanced time tracking solution, University Veterinary Hospital reduced clock-in and clock-out errors by 50%, ensuring that timesheets and costs are recorded accurately.

Timesheet software benefit #3: Decrease payroll errors and legal disputes

Inaccurate timekeeping isn’t just a hassle to correct. It can lead to legal issues. Make sure your staff are paid correctly and your business is on the right side of employment laws.

The United States, for example, has the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which mandates minimum wage, labor standards, and record-keeping for companies. The United Kingdom has similar laws in the form of the National Minimum Wage Act and Working Time Regulations.

Failing to adhere to employment laws can lead to expensive lawsuits and fines. The Society for Human Resource Management reports that wage and hour settlements — which amounted to a whopping $1.2 billion in 2017 — is the number one exposure for companies.

The best way to prevent payroll mistakes is to use employee time tracking software, and not just because they automate accurate timesheets.

These systems help calculate accurate wages for every shift according to your local laws or workplace agreements. And when you connect software like Deputy to your payroll system, you can run precise payroll with just a few clicks.

Just look at what time tracking software did for Harper Logistics. They cut their payroll processing time from days to minutes — and payroll accuracy jumped to 100%.

Timesheet software benefit #4: Lack of visibility into real-time staff coverage and attendance

Whether you’re in charge of a small coffee shop or a large chain of hardware stores, it’s tough to always know who’s running late and who’s actually in the right place.

With employee time tracking software, you can get the kind of visibility you need. For example, when an employee starts and ends their shift via Deputy’s mobile time clock, they can use a GPS location stamp to show they’re in the right place. And managers will get an instant update.

iEducate, a nonprofit group that offers tutoring and mentorships, uses their time tracking software to gain more visibility into the attendance of their tutors.

“Instead of not knowing a tutor didn’t show up for a shift until a whole day later, the platform allowed us to know immediately whether or not someone showed up for a shift. As a result, we were able to really decrease the number of shifts that went unfulfilled and better make sure our students got the support they need,” says Joana Nunoo, the Senior Operations Manager at iEducate.

“If someone was running late or didn’t show up for a shift, we used to be left in the dark but now all we have to do is send them a quick message through the app and we’re able to immediately get in touch with them,” says Joana.

What to look for in employee time tracking and attendance software

Time tracking and attendance software should help you be more efficient, so the last thing you want is to waste time implementing the wrong solution. Here’s a cheat sheet of the features and offerings that you should look for in your timesheet app.

  • Employee time clock and timesheet verification. When an employee clocks on and off from their shift, time tracking software creates an automatic timesheet with total hours, breaks, and wages. And to keep attendance records accurate, opt for a system that provides timesheet verification so staff can show they clocked in to the right place.

  • Compliance capabilities. Choose a solution makes it easy to comply with local and state laws. Since these things vary depending on your location and your industry, it’s important to find a time tracking software that has the flexibility to calculate overtime, breaks, and penalty rates based on your local laws and workplace agreements.

  • Payroll integration. Employee time tracking and payroll go hand-in-hand, so make sure your timesheet software can “talk” to your accounting and payroll systems. You should be able to quickly sync employee details, pay rates, and timesheets to make the whole payroll process a breeze.

  • Reporting. Your time tracking software should have reporting features that enable you to track and compare important data, notice any red flags, and make smarter management decisions. Get a clear view of scheduled hours and budgets and easily compare against actual timesheet hours, wage costs, and sales.

  • Cloud-based. Cloud-based apps store data in (you guessed it) the cloud. That means your staff’s schedule and attendance records are updated in real-time and easily accessible across devices. A cloud-based solution allows you to stay on top of staff schedules no matter where you are, as long as you have an internet connection.

Integrations with other business apps

When you’re looking for timesheet software, choose a solution with a long list of integration partners — or an open API — so you know they can easily plug into other apps. Here are some of the integration types that might come in handy for your business.

HR software

Save hours on admin by plugging your employee timesheet software into your HR platform. You can sync details like employee profiles and time off requests, so all that info is centralised and you don’t have to manually re-enter any of that data.

Point of sale system

Connect your time tracking software to your POS system to maximize your efficiency. When integrated correctly, you can easily compare sales against wage costs and staff hours to make smarter scheduling decisions.


Being tied to a desk or computer can limit your efficiency, particularly if you and your employees work on the go. That’s why it’s important to choose an employee timesheet software that works on multiple devices — including smartphones and tablets.

With a mobile-friendly system, your team get the convenience of clocking in and out from their favourite devices. While managers can easily review timesheets and attendance info wherever they are.

The bottom line of employee time tracking and timesheet software

Using employee timesheet apps and time tracking software can save you time, increase your efficiency, and help you make better business decisions.

But to unlock all those benefits, you need to select the right system for your business. Your best bet would be to opt for a solution that works on multiple devices, automates key time tracking tasks, gives you the data you need, and integrates with leading payroll and accounting systems.

Ready to streamline employee time tracking and scheduling in your business? Check out Deputy’s complete workforce management solution and discover why over 165,000 workplaces have made the switch.