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7
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Unlocking the Power of Industrial Automation Through Java

Time tracking systems overview

We’ve already covered various aspects of software development process so far: how to choose a provider, which IP issues to consider, how to motivate your team, what challenges to be aware of when working on international scale… But how to make sure that the whole team is actually working? What if the majority of time is actually spent on non-project related activities (i.e. Facebook, chats with friends, etc.)?

How to monitor the progress?

There is a solution for that – consider using time-tracking and project management software. These tools will help you a lot to stay involved in the development process and see the real picture of how things actually are on the project.

Time tracking tools together with project management software give you a great opportunity to measure your team’s performance. Right now our team is working on our own time tracking system – CrISStal Eye – which will be released in the nearest future. When designing this tool, we’ve tried to take into account everything we find useful to monitor performance on the project. You can check its features by visiting our website.

In this article we are going to focus on time tracking systems available on the market and review the most popular ones. In particular, we will compare these tools based on the criteria we consider to be the most important: integration with project management (PM) systems, built-in PM system, desktop client, activity monitoring, billing/invoicing, CRM, usability, and performance. These systems vary in their functionality significantly – from just tracking time spent to powerful integrations with accounting, ERP and CRM systems.

Please note: the review below represents the opinion of our team and is not aimed to advertise or bring into discredit any of the existing solutions.

Timecamp

Integration with JIRA/Redmine
Jira: yes
Redmine: yes

Integration with other PM systems
• Trello
• Asana
• Podio
• Pivotal Tracker
• Basecamp
• Assembla
• Active Collab
• TeamWork
• Insightly
• Freshdesk
• Zendesk
• OpenProject

Built-in PM System
There is an opportunity to create “organizational structure”, to distribute employees among company departments, to assign tasks to employees.

Desktop client
A desktop client is rather user-friendly. It enables to switch between two time tracking modes: manual and automatic. You can also create a new task and define its location in the project hierarchy.
However, an issue with the speed of synchronization between the desktop client and the web application was noticed.

Activity monitoring
There is an opportunity to monitor pages viewed in browser and time spent in applications. As for the screenshots – they are listed in features, but you will need to get in touch with the developers about this feature.

Billing/invoicing
The invoicing system is rather flexible. Integration with Quickbooks allows to import all client’s data and taxes to TimeCamp’s invoicing module. Besides, the invoices created in TimeCamp will be exported to QuickBooks when sent to clients.

CRM
There are customer database management features, including invoice generation and sending.

Usability
Because of the rich functionality it may take some time to familiarize with the system.

Performance
As mentioned above, there is an issue with the speed of synchronization between the desktop client and the web application.

Author’s comments
TimeCamp is a multi-functional application with a variety of integrations. Project management and billing features are available. There is a flexible system for monitoring time spent by employees. The system allows creating a full organizational structure of the company. The visual calendar is very convenient, and it provides constant access to task management. It is also comfortable to view statistics on tasks.

Hubstaff

Integration with JIRA/Redmine
Jira: yes
Redmine: yes

Integration with other PM systems
• Active Collab
• Asana
• Basecamp
• Breeze
• GitHub
• GitLab
• Insightly
• LiquidPlanner
• Mavenlink
• Pivotal Tracker
• Podio
• Producteev
• Redbooth
• Teamwork PM
• Trello
• Unfuddle
• Wrike
• Zoho Projects

Built-in PM System
There is a possibility to select assignees for the particular tasks and to track time spent on this or that task. It is also possible to register many organizations and project team members.

Desktop client
The desktop client has the majority of functions available in the web application.

Activity monitoring
It is possible to set a number of screenshots taken in 5-minute interval.

Billing/invoicing
It is stated that it is possible to export reports about completed tasks and spent time to Quickbooks. But in practice, apparently this feature is available only if the desktop version of Quickbooks is installed. In the web application the possibility to import into Quickbooks is limited to .csv and .xls formats only (while in HubStaff data export is done in .iif format). Moreover, seems like these reports do not logically coincide with the contents of Hubstaff reports.

CRM
Integration with Quickbooks allows importing tracked time and paying employees and contractors or invoicing clients.

Usability
Too much action is required when dealing with projects and reporting. Familiarization with user interface also requires some time.

Performance
No delays in performance were noticed.

Author’s comments
Hubstaff has rather rich functionality and good performance indicators. Meanwhile, integration with the only one accounting system is not as efficient as desired. The desktop client is not the most user-friendly one.

Toggl

Integration with JIRA/Redmine
Jira: yes
Redmine: yes

Integration with other PM systems
• Teamweek
• Pivotal Tracker
• Asana
• GitHub
• GitLab
• Trello
• Redbooth
• Worksection
• Podio
• Unfuddle
• Basecamp
• Producteev
• Bitbucket
• Sifter
• YouTrack (InCloud)
• CapsuleCRM & Xero

Built-in PM System
Toggl has a simplified version of a built-in PM systems. What this system allows to you is to distribute the roles in the team and determine whether one person or the whole project team can be an assignee for this or that task.

Desktop client
There is the version for Windows which is comfortable and functional enough to replace the work with the website.

Activity monitoring
No

Billing/invoicing
The system allows you to customize the rate for each assignee and to make task unbillable.
However, the system cannot create templates for invoices, which is inconvenient for accounting. In general, the system is convenient only for the calculation of the efficiency of the time spent on this or that task.

CRM
CRM system is absent as such. It is only possible to set the name of the customer when adding a new project.

Usability
A very user-friendly interface.

Performance
No delays in performance were noticed.

Author’s comments
In general we can say that the target audience of the product is small independent companies with the following characteristics:
• there is no need to conduct a complex documentation,
• there is no multi-level accounting system,
• project teams are small,
• the level of trust to an assignee is high by default,
• first and foremost, the tool is needed for an accurate tracking of time spent on a specific task.
For a company of 20 – 30 people and above this product lacks planning tools severely; a more advanced CRM component is required. The system has a function of generating reports, but there is no way to generate an invoice for the work performed.

Harvest

Integration with JIRA/Redmine
Jira: yes
Redmine: yes

Integration with other PM systems
• Apollo
• Asana
• Basecamp
• Breeze
• Flow
• Fuseboard
• Glip
• Planscope
• Pushpin Planer
• ScrumDo
• Smartsheet
• Teambook
• Teamwork
• ThetaBoard
• Trello

Built-in PM System
It is possible to create a company, projects, project team with the division of roles, create a separate task. A person can be assigned to project tasks attached to a particular project.

Desktop client
No

Activity monitoring
Only time spent on a particular task can be tracked. Screenshots are not taken.

Billing/invoicing
The invoice generation system is rather convenient. Harvest supports integration with several accounting applications: Quickbooks, Run My Accounts, Viewabill, Xero.

CRM
Each project must relate to a particular customer. Subsequently, the invoices are generated based on the name of the client.

Usability
There are a lot of functions which are conveniently divided into sections. There is a cut-down version of the interface for an assignee who doesn’t have the status of Project Manager or administrator.

Performance
No delays in performance were noticed.

Author’s comments
A user-friendly system of invoice creation. Double verification of the worked time sheets. Assigning an employee to a task (a project) is not very user-friendly. There is no desktop application.

Bill4time

Integration with JIRA/Redmine
Jira: no
Redmine: no

Integration with other PM systems
No.

Built-in PM System
Only project creation is available, without a breakdown by tasks. The work log is tied to the customer and to the project.

Desktop client
There is a full-featured desktop client.

Activity monitoring
No.

Billing/invoicing
Billing Features include:
• Unlimited billing rates
• Override default rates at anytime
• Mix hourly and flat rates for every user
• 30 Different currencies

Invoicing Features include:
• Fully customizable invoices
• Time saving batch invoicing
• Attach A/R balance summary
• Automated payment integration

CRM
There is a rich CRM functionality, including customizable dashboard, unlimited billing rates, static budgeting, client based cloud storage, and Client portal.

Usability
Although the interface is rather “heavy”, there is an easy access to the user guides; fields are accompanied by the hints. Time tracking can run on any type of a client.

Performance
No delays in performance were noticed.

Author’s comments
There is a wide accounting functionality. A convenient CRM system with the portal for customers. The software allows providing meaningful reports for the customer and invoice generation.

TimeDoctor

Integration with JIRA/Redmine
Jira: yes
Redmine: no

Integration with other PM systems
• Asana
• Basecamp
• Freshdesk
• Podio
• Teamwork
• Trello
• WorkflowMax

Built-in PM System
A built-in PM systems enables working with tasks.

Desktop client
The desktop client represents a time tracker with the task list.

Activity monitoring
Time spent on a particular task can be tracked. The system also has the ability to take screenshots of the computer screen every few minutes.

Billing/invoicing
There is an opportunity to bill clients or pay employees based on tracked time.

CRM
No.

Usability
Hits and links to explainer videos appear on a regular basis.

Performance
No delays in performance were noticed.

Author’s comments
In general TimeDoctor is a very user-friendly system for collaborative work.

Yaware

Integration with JIRA/Redmine
Jira: no
Redmine: no

Integration with other PM systems
No info

Built-in PM System
A built-in PM system allows creating a project, tasks and selecting assignees for these tasks.

Desktop client
There is a desktop client. However, the information is updated only when the manual synchronization is performed. The client displays the statistics on both productive and unproductive time spent, the list of assigned tasks, and allows you to start and stop the timer.

Activity monitoring
Time spent on a task is tracked. The system splits the entire list of applications that are used by an assignee, into several categories, so that all the time spent will be divided into productive, unproductive and neutral time.
Screenshots are also taken.

Billing/invoicing
No.

CRM
No.

Usability
In general, the application rather convenient, but is a bit overloaded with all sorts of options for reporting and applications categorization.

Performance
There are delays in performance when generating reports with charts.

Author’s comments
The application works primarily as a tool for personnel monitoring, and secondly, as a time-tracker.

Conclusion

Obviously, there are many other time-tracking tools that we haven’t covered. But we hope our review will give you a general understanding of what is available on the market today, and which criteria to take into account when choosing a suitable solution for your needs.

Have something to add? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments box below!

About the author

Olga Rekovskaya

Olga is a Marketing manager at ISS Art, LLC. Her primary role is the promotion of software products and services in the international market. Being passionate about technology, she enjoys generating useful content and sharing tips with others.

  • Gabriel Costa

    A very good range is covered, indeed. Tried all except for one. In the end I picked Time Tracking by primaERP: https://www.primaerp.com/ It allows projects to be related to clients and broke down in Tasks and activities. Plus, creates bills. You might want to take a look. Cheers!

  • Hi Gabriel,
    Glad that you liked the review. Thanks for the link – we’ll take a look at this tool as well.

  • Ed

    Thank you for including Yaware in the list! Really great app!

  • Tom Storms

    Great article! Another tool that might benefit developers is VitalTiming: http://www.vitaltiming.com/ It uses automatic time tracking. Users can review their data online with productivity metrics, and developers will have access to all their users’ activity data via our API. This way developers can have metric data that they can use in their own applications.