When you’re a small-business owner looking for the best time tracking apps, you want to make sure you choose the right one out of the gate.
How do you decide which one is right for you? I’ve spent years interacting with dozens and have to say that the below three are my favorite. I’ve reviewed each of these time tracking apps to help you make the right decision for your business.
Editor’s Note: QuickBooks Time is the Ledger’s favorite time tracking app and one of our all-time top small-business apps.
QuickBooks Time came onto the scene and took the time tracking market by storm quite a few years ago. It just blew the doors off of everything else out there. It made time tracking “sexy,” and accomplished this by bringing a mobile app and the energy needed to make it so.
QuickBooks Time: Integration and interface
QuickBooks Time integrates beautifully with QuickBooks Desktop and Xero. And it’s the only time tracking app embedded inside QuickBooks Online.
There is an excellent mobile app as well as a browser (desktop) app — making it a good option for businesses that need time tracking apps for a mobile workforce.
Once you connect your QuickBooks software, you can review your options and there is one really important one you most likely want to be sure is checked off — ”Import Vendors as Employees.” Unless you know for sure that you will never need to track time for a vendor, such as a subcontractor, this needs to be checked off. Also, and this isn’t necessarily obvious, even with that option checked off, the vendors will only come in if you have their profile filled out in QuickBooks Online with a physical and an e-mail address.
After that, everything in setting up QuickBooks Time is really simple. The interface is clean. It’s different. In the browser app, you’re given boxes that open up and can be moved around your screen. Rather than taking you through screens, you’re given a dashboard from which to work with and you can open and close things as you need them.
QuickBooks Time: Clocking in and out
Clocking in and out and switching tasks is as easy as the tap of a button on both the mobile and browser apps on this time tracking app. If you clock in on the web app and then log into the mobile app, it will pick up your clocked in time and show you the running time. Then you can clock out from either place, whether online or offline.
GPS location tracking gives you a great view into who’s working and where they actually are.
QuickBooks Time: Setup
Setting up QuickBooks Time is fairly simple, but as with any robust application, you’ll have to spend some time going through everything to be sure it is all set up the way you need it. If you have specific payroll needs, such as overtime rules, you’ll want to spend some time on this. The best thing to do is go through the entire set up area on the left and learn your options so you can get the most out of QuickBooks Time. Also QuickBooks Time has amazing customer support, and when you sign up, someone will reach out to you to make sure you have what you need. Take advantage of this, don’t blow it off. More on that below.
QuickBooks Time: Scheduling
QuickBooks Time has a great scheduling area, but you won’t find it in the navigation initially. It’s an add-on that you have to opt in for. If you went through the entire set up area as prescribed above, then you’ve already seen it. Choose to “install it” and in a click you’ll have access.
Once you have scheduling turned on, it is very easy to use. You’ll find it under “Manage” in the left navigation. QuickBooks Time project/job-based or shift-based scheduling can be managed from both the browser and the mobile app. In the mobile app, you can view and edit the full schedule, as well as add and assign something to anyone.
QuickBooks Time: Support
QuickBooks Time has world-class support with a robust knowledge base, and if you choose this time tracking app, you should use it liberally. There is chat support. I was able to get help on a Sunday. Most companies have the chat on the lower right corner of your screen. QuickBooks Time has it on the left, so look there or you might miss it.
QuickBooks Time: Final thoughts
If you want a great product that’s been around for a bit, with a solid company behind it, then QuickBooks Time is for you.
ClockShark came onto my radar on July 3, 2016. Cliff Mitchell, co-Founder and CEO, replied to an email I’d sent out about gaining independence by “letting go” and letting others take some of the daily tasks and to do’s off our plates.
Soon I discovered that he had a time tracking app and it was even in the Intuit Apps Marketplace for apps that integrate with QuickBooks Online. I thought I had my needs met in that department, but as an app addict, I’ve learned to always keep an open mind and keep on top of what is out there.
ClockShark: Integration and interface
ClockShark integrates beautifully with QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop and Xero. The web interface is nice and clean, and the mobile app is very easy to use. Everything you need to access is neatly organized in navigation across the top.
Once you’re connected to your accounting software, you can map and bring in your list elements. ClockShark makes this easy to do. One thing to note is that you can add elements from either side (ClockShark or QuickBooks Online) and then map them so they can be synced.
ClockShark syncs up about every hour. There is no “sync now” option. I tested a name change on a customer and it works perfectly.
ClockShark: Clocking in and out
Clocking in and out, whether on the mobile time tracking app or in the browser is as simple as selecting the customer/job, the service and punching in. You can switch jobs at the tap of a button, from either the mobile app or in your browser.
If you clock in on the web and then log into the mobile app, there is not a connection, so you won’t see your time running there.
Clocking out is at the tap of a button.
Geo location tracking gives you a great view into who is working and where they actually are. Also worth noting, ClockShark has a “trap” in case an employee tries to install a location spoofing app. As the admin, you will get a message to that effect.
You can set up notifications to remind employees to clock in and out at a set time each day. This is a global setting, not per employee.
Set up in ClockShark is very easy. The integration will get a lot of it done. Then you will want to set up the mapping. The app walks you through this step by step. If you’ve added a new list element, you can click “Create New Mappings” to let ClockShark know how to map the new items between the element in QuickBooks Online and the element in ClockShark.
You can set the auto map direction. This is distinguished to minimize the chances of a conflict. Once you change it, you can wait an hour so that it syncs, and then you can change it again. You can also leave it on “manual” so that each element is configured by itself, in terms of how it is mapped. Any time you add a new list element, in either QuickBooks Online or ClockShark, you can click to create new mappings and configure it accordingly.
ClockShark has a great scheduling section. It is just drop-dead simple to set up schedules and assign them to employees. For now, you can only add or edit schedules on the web app. You can view your schedule on the mobile app, but it’s view only.
ClockShark has a notify employees option, that let’s you push a notification to all employees whose schedules have been changed or updated in the past day, three days or week. You can push this notification via mobile, e-mail or both.
ClockShark has great support. It uses a live chat support option on its website. I was able to get help from a live person on a Saturday. This was huge, as I do not want to have to spend time searching through a robust knowledge base. Those are often difficult to navigate — and make it hard to find very specific things.
ClockShark: Final thoughts
ClockShark is the new kid on the block with a powerful platform that’s worth a look by anyone who either needs a good time tracking solution or is considering switching to something new. Its pricing is competitive, as are the features and benefits. This company is motivated to increase market share and it will work hard to get — and keep — your business.
Time Clock Wizard
This is what I call a “curve ball.” This is an app that I would not have known about, were it not for the fact that Erica, who works with me, was using it. We don’t track time in our organization because neither our client billing nor our compensation is based on time. Erica, however, was curious to see how long it was taking her to complete her work on various jobs, so she googled “free time tracking” (or something like that) and found Time Clock Wizard.
Time Clock Wizard: Integration and interface
Time Clock Wizard does not have any accounting software integrations yet, but I spoke with its live chat support and it sounds like at least a QuickBooks Integration is in the works. Meanwhile they told me that you can get a CSV (Excel) export and that can easily be imported into QuickBooks. It should be noted that this only works with QuickBooks Desktop. There is no way to import time into QuickBooks Online without using another app like Transaction Pro Importer.
The interface on both the web and mobile apps is clean. I had to look twice to be sure the mobile app was the same app. The look and feel is a bit inconsistent. On the web, the branding and logo are blue and white. On the mobile app, it’s black and white. Once I was in, and it was clear I was in the right app, everything looked great. Just different from the web app.
The mobile app has a messaging feature. which seems like a cool idea. The ability to chat with co-workers through the mobile app makes a lot of sense.
Time Clock Wizard: Clocking in and out
Clocking in and out is straightforward. There were a couple of things I found to be a bit clunky. It was not clear how to include a job during the clock in process. Even after I created a job — which can’t be done on the fly — as I was clocking in, it wasn’t clear how to get the option to choose a job, or edit a previous time entry to include it. Time Clock Wizard's live chat support helped me through it. Once things were set up correctly, it is clear and seamless.
Time Clock Wizard: Setup
When you get started with Time Clock Wizard, make sure you spend some time in the “Business Settings” under Settings. This is where you can add jobs and locations, and then you have to go into your “Clock In Settings,” and separately indicate that you want the options available. Once this is done, clocking in and out and assigning the job and location is super easy.
Time Clock Wizard: Scheduling
Time Clock Wizard has a scheduling area. To schedule something, you select the employee on the left and then click a day in the calendar. This wasn’t obvious. I would have liked to see a plus sign or something indicating that this is where you go to add a new schedule. It also does not appear that you can do recurring schedules.
Time Clock Wizard: Support
The live chat support was helpful, although I found it a bit like pulling teeth trying to get answers to questions. When I explained that I couldn’t get a job into a time entry, she gave me support on how to add a job, which I’d already done. It was also apparent that chat support was using canned responses to my questions based on keywords. I get why this seems smart, but as a user I actually found it annoying. I was actually considering using this feature in my own live chat support, but now that I’ve experienced it from the user’s end, I won’t.
Time Clock Wizard: Final thoughts
If you’re not concerned about payroll or accounting integration, then this app might be perfect for you. There is a big push away from time tracking apps for billing and compensation purposes, but as Erica (my employee) has done, you may want something just to see how long it is taking you to do your work. If you’re being paid a flat rate, you may want to see what your effective hourly rate is.
A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet