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Research from the American Payroll Association revealed that the average hourly employee cheats their employer out of anywhere between 50 minutes and four and half hours by showing up late, leaving late and taking extended breaks and lunches.

Time and attendance systems help quell these time theft issues. Using these digital systems, you can streamline the employee time tracking process, improve accountability across departments, cut down on employee time theft, free up management’s time to focus on other tasks and make it easier for employees to clock in and out.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a time and attendance solution, like making sure it offers a range of ways for employees to track their time, has added features like paid time off management and scheduling, fits in your budget and provides the type of customer support you want. With so many options out there, we want to help you narrow down the choices.

This guide highlights some of the features you get with time and attendance systems, provides an overview of their cost structure, and offers our recommendations of the systems we think are best for different needs. Our best picks include stratustime, TSheets, TimeClock Plus, uAttend, iSolved Time and Kronos. You can read more about each below.

Implementing a time and attendance system is a solid investment for many businesses, because it offers several cross-organizational benefits. First, it provides employees with the ability to record their time more precisely and consistently. Second, for your HR and accounting staff, employee hours can be uploaded or synced to your payroll system. Finally, the software’s functionality eliminates the time it takes to manually enter information and reduces errors that may occur when deciphering handwritten timesheets or manually keying in hours. Reducing such errors by using an automated time tracking program helps prevent timecard disputes and reassures employees that they’re accurately paid.

Time and attendance systems offer virtual timeclocks that you access through a browser or a mobile app. Most host your data on their servers, ensuring that it’s securely stored offsite. Most applications are compatible with a variety of timeclocks, including standard models as well as high-security options equipped with badge or biometric scanners. No matter which time and attendance software you select, there are certain features you should look for:

• Employee and administrative portals: Your employees can access their individual portals to clock in and out, see how much time off they’ve banked and request time off. You and your management team have additional controls that allow you to track employees’ attendance and hours. You can also approve your employees’ time-off requests.

• Scheduling: Many systems offer sophisticated scheduling tools that allow organizations to schedule shifts for individual or multiple employees in minutes. The scheduling tools can also be used to automatically monitor if employees are clocking in late or leaving early.

To determine the best time and attendance system, we started by looking at a comprehensive list of nearly 80 time and attendance software providers. To narrow that list down, we separated all the vendors that had a good online reputation, such as those services that were consistently ranked highly by other websites.

At periodic intervals, we queried business owners to see which services they used. When we got multiple business owners raving about the vendor they use, that company was also added to the final list of contenders. Finally, we went through and visited each company’s website. If a company stood out to us, we added them to the final list.

We ultimately narrowed down our pool to: Acrotime from Acroprint, ADP, Boomr, Buddy Punch, Clockspot, ClockVIEW from Acumen, EPAY Systems, Attendance Enterprise from Infotronics, iSolved Time from Infinisource, Kronos’ Workforce Ready, Mitrefinch, myGeoTracking from Abaqus, NovaTime,, stratustime from nettime solutions, TimeAttend from Replicon, TimeClick from Hawkeye Technology, TimeClock Plus, ,, TimeStar from Insperity, TSheets, uAttend from Processing Point and Webtimeclock.

Next, we researched each provider by investigating its services, watching tutorials and how-to videos, and reading user comments. After narrowing the list down even further, we contacted the support teams of our finalists posing as business owners to gauge the type of customer service each provider offers.

Historically, time and attendance was tracked by hand. Employees wrote down on timecards when they arrived and when they left. When that became inefficient, manual punch clocks came into play. These clocks stamped the time employees arrived and left on a timecard, and provided more of an official documentation of an employee’s attendance.

However, the time and attendance field has evolved rapidly in recent years. Now, many organizations have traded in their paper timecards and manual punch clocks for digital cloud-based systems. The systems electronically monitor when employees come and go, regardless of whether they are working in the office or remotely; manage all time needs, like paid time off and scheduling; can be accessed from anywhere; and integrate with other critical programs organizations are already using, like payroll and human resources systems.

Research from time and attendance system provider Replicon revealed just how important these solutions are. The study discovered that 96 percent employees say they have made mistakes when recording their time and attendance, with 86 percent saying they have challenges tracking their time.

These systems have evolved so much that they can now eliminate buddy punching, which is when employees have their co-workers clock in or out for them. Today’s systems include timeclocks that feature biometrics that require a fingerprint or facial scan to log into the system.

The rise in remote workers has also caused an evolution in time and attendance systems. Mobile apps have expanded the use of time and attendance software to on-the-go workers. These apps don’t only log when employees start and end their shifts, they also use geotracking and geofencing technology to record exactly where employees are clocking in and out from, or restrict the locations where punching can occur. This boosted functionality, combined with lowered prices due to cloud hosting and ready-made web applications, has made time and attendance software a buyer’s market. Time Management – Downloadable Guides