By Elizabeth Mazenko, Better Buys
Choosing which time tracking software to invest in isn’t simple. With hundreds of vendors pushing their unique portfolio of features and services, it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re looking for the solution — and they’re the experts, right?
Although time tracking vendors know the ins and outs of their product, that doesn’t mean they understand your organization’s needs. So before investing in time tracking software, you’ll want to create a detailed list of desired features and requirements, often referred to as a request for proposal (RFP).
But how detailed is too detailed?
Being too detailed can send you on a wild goose chase to find a perfect match that doesn’t exist. But if you’re too vague, you run the risk of wasting time searching through insufficient solutions or purchasing one that doesn’t meet your organization’s challenges. That leaves no better answer than “detailed enough,” which can mean drastically different things depending on the business.
How can you find the right balance? These three tips will help you create an RFP that best fits your needs.
How to Create a Balanced RFP
1. Talk to the right people
Chances are, you’ve already talked with your HR managers, payroll team, and C-suite to identify the major gaps. But getting input from mid-level managers, IT, and any other employees who will use or manage the time tracking system may reveal additional problem areas.
Understanding all the pitfalls in your current time tracking process can help you identify the features you need in a solution. Having your stakeholders prioritize these issues is a great way to find out which features are required. Otherwise, trying to solve every problem may make your RFP too detailed.
Whether you get this input from company surveys, face-to-face talks, or other methods, it’s important to document the information for later reference. Even though a feature might not have made the RFP this time, you may want to scale out the solution to meet less critical needs later on.
2. Dig into the market
Not only does time tracking software come in all shapes and sizes, it’s also constantly evolving to keep up with market trends and business needs. Looking at what the market offers is a good way to supplement your internal research.
Doing external research ensures your knowledge of time tracking software is up to date and guarantees the features you’re looking for are available. This research can also help you learn what additional costs may be associated with implementing a time tracking solution, like the hardware necessary for biometric time clocks.
If you want a more candid view of what’s possible with a time tracking system, try going through some video demos in addition to looking through comparisons and reviews. You can even ask vendors how their solution might resolve a specific issue.
3. Ask your peers what they use
Another good way to make sure your list of requirements is realistic is to ask organizations like yours which time tracking solution they use and why. Your peers can help shed some light on potential challenges or required capabilities you didn’t think about.
Use this information to help fine-tune your RFP before setting off on your quest to find the perfect solution. Just know that some of your peers might not be forthcoming with this information. If that is the case, ask vendors for successful use cases from organizations similar to yours.
Modern time tracking software has evolved since the age of punch cards. So there are some additional features you should consider adding to your RFP.
Tracking time and attendance can be especially hard when you have hourly, remote, and in-the-field employees. Mobile capabilities allow employees to clock in and out, check schedules and submit time-off requests all from their mobile devices. Some solutions also offer GPS tracking capabilities to ensure your employees are where they say they are.
There was a time when time tracking solutions had to be installed on-premise. However, like other business solutions, many time tracking products offer cloud-based tools, too. This option is ideal for organizations with limited resources to maintain the system or purchase equipment.
Even the best managers and payroll teams have off days. Built-in automatic and trigger notifications can ensure nothing slips through the cracks, whether it’s a timesheet approval or a warning that an employee is approaching overtime.
It’s important to find time tracking systems that will integrate with your current business applications. This will centralize your employee information for easy updates and will reduce the risk of losing data or duplicating documents.
The Bottom Line
The search for the perfect time tracking solution will be a lot easier if you know exactly what your company needs. Getting input from all sides will not only help you identify the issues, but it’ll also offer great advice on what’s possible with a modern time tracking solution, allowing you to create a balanced RFP.
About the author
Elizabeth is an editor with Better Buys, a trusted source for business software news and research. Follow her on Twitter at @ElizMazenko for more on enterprise software and related technology research.