How to Choose the Right Time Clock Software for your Payroll Software

Many different types of businesses find time clocks crucial to the smooth and accurate operation of their business. Strawberry farmers, machine shops, fast food restaurants, manufacturing facilities and plant nurseries are just a sampling of the business types that would be lost without the ability to import time from a time clock in order to efficiently run payroll. Typically, a payroll software program is sold separately from a time clock. Thankfully, many systems are made in a universal format, such that they can often work together correctly. Use this article as a guide for how to choose the right time clock software to work with your payroll software.

The range of time clocks available is quite large, so be sure to find one that is appropriate for your business. First, think about your requirements and what type of information you would like to import from the time clock into your payroll system. For example, if you have simple time tracking requirements, you may need to import just the employee abbreviation, date, hours, and earning code. For more advanced requirements, you may need to also track things like profit center, department, work shift, pay defaults, expense accounts, pieces, etc. This all depends on your business. After determining the type of detail you would like to capture, it’s time to select the time clock. Determine the type of time capture tool appropriate for your needs and research manufacturers/distributors that offer the desired time clock solution. Here are a few examples of different types of tools that are available:

  • Electronic Time Clocks
    • Punch pad for employees to enter information
    • Card swipe (each employee has an employee identification card used to swipe)
    • Biometric (thumb or hand scan identifier)
  • Mobile/Hand held time capture devices (for capturing time/pieces at external locations)
  • Time Capture Software (computer based tracking)
  • Web-based time tracking tools

Before choosing the time capture device that’s right for you and your business, request a definition of the type of file their tool creates and the format of the file. If they can also provide a sample file, it is helpful in verifying compatibility. Here are the most common file formats.

  • Comma Delimited File Format (CSV) is a common file type for importing data. The data in the file is separated by a comma. For example: smithj,01012011,08,HR. The definition of that file would then be: employee abbreviation, date, hours worked and earning code.
  • Fixed Width File Format: The data isn't separated by any fields, instead the software tracks the number of characters per field being imported. An example of the data found in a fixed width file: 00000001110101201108HR. The file definition would then be: Characters 1-10 are the employee abbreviation,11-18 is the date, 19-20 is the number of hours and 21-22 is the earnings code.

Make sure that the file format for the time capture device you are interested in will work along with your payroll software. A call to your software provider would be helpful in ensuring the file format will work with the software.

Here are some of the popular vendors of time capture devices:

  • Qqest/Time Force
  • Acroprint
  • Nova Time
  • Kronos
  • T-3 Technology (hand held devise)
  • Agricultural Data Systems (hand held device)
  • Hand Track (hand held device)

Selecting the right time capture device to work with your payroll software will affect your business. Track the right information, select an appropriate time clock, set the whole system up correctly, and you will be on your way to seamless pay data entry for years to come.

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