Time is money, as the old adage goes, which means tracking time is crucial for any company – and especially for small businesses. You and your staff wear a number of different hats, simultaneously working to build the business while also ensuring that the nitty-gritty tasks are taken care of. It can be all too easy to fall into a pattern of knocking out small but necessary day-to-day assignments and failing to address the bigger-picture projects that are essential to success.

With the arrival of the summer solstice and the longest day of the year, there is no better time to devote a few spare minutes to considering how well your business manages time and how you can use time more productively. Fortunately, in today’s app-heavy culture, there are a multitude of options to help small businesses track time and increase efficiency.

We’ve put together a short list of some of the most popular tools to help you measure the time you and your team spend on various tasks throughout the workday. These apps can help you make the most of every precious hour by tracking not just how you plan to spend your time, but where you actually spend it. Once you identify exactly how you and your team are wasting time, you can replace less important tasks or projects with those that are more productive.

3 Key Considerations

When choosing the best app for your business, focus on a few key criteria:

Features: Test-drive the app, tool, or website to see if it has the bells and whistles you need to achieve your productivity goals. Talk to your team, and make sure the tool feels like a comfortable fit. Are the features easy to use and teach to your staff? Does the app get everyone on the same page smoothly and effectively? Can it be integrated with other project management tools? Think of your time tracking tool as another employee, someone you want to invest in and who you expect to help simplify your day-to-day to-dos.

Cost: Take time to do the math. Clarify whether or not the app you’re considering charges more for extra users, what the additional fees (if any) are for special services, and if there are any money-saving promotions you can take advantage of.

Reviews: Avoid wasting time experimenting with something that has a less-than-stellar reputation. Be sure to solicit feedback from peers and heed their advice. You can also take advantage of platforms such as Capterra and G2 Crowd, which post reliable ratings and user reviews on a wide range of software and tech tools.

Start Your Clocks

Here are five apps that consistently appear on reviewers’ “best of” lists for helping small businesses improve time management:

1 – Toggl: This intuitive app lets you accomplish more than just turning your stopwatch on and off. It also creates visual reports to inform your team of where time is being spent and which tasks generate the most money. Even if you forget to use it, the app has idle detection to track your time spent. Toggl is best for business owners who want to improve time management in relation to specific projects and offers an up to 30-day free trial period for each of its three services.

2 – Tsheets: The app’s website boasts over 19,000 five-star reviews, and for good reason. TSheets has a desktop feature in addition to its mobile app that lets you streamline payroll, send invoices, and even pair it with facial recognition for employees who work outside the office. It is a solid app for professional staffing organizations, acting as a mini-HR department where workers can easily request to trade shifts and managers can quickly approve time off. This also makes it a strong choice for small companies with part-time or remote workers.

3 – Harvest: As its name implies, Harvest helps small businesses cultivate many things, including team projects, shared calendars, and streamlined invoicing systems. The latter is its most notable feature, bringing expense management to a superior level and making distributor and manufacturing billing a seamless process. The app offers a tiered pricing hierarchy, accommodating small to medium business types in various industries.

4 – Hubstaff: This versatile app features a monitoring system that tracks mouse clicks and captures desktop screenshots to ensure work is delivered and helps improve staff accountability. Hubstaff includes an invoicing feature like other tools, and it also monitors employee Internet and app use. This can be especially useful for managing remote or freelance workers and helping them stay on track. Plus, Hubstaff offers a free two-week trial, and we like its nifty tagline: “Spend less time tracking and more time growing.”

5 – Paymo: Launched in 2008, Paymo has grown to encompass more than time and invoice management. Serving more than 50 countries, this award-winning tool allows teams to collaborate and manage projects or accounting on one platform and track time online, on a desktop, or on the app itself. The popular app also features eight tutorial videos to help acclimate new users and show them how to maximize its time and team management tools to oversee projects from infancy through completion.

The variety of available time tracking apps offers small businesses a wide range of options, and the good news is more choices mean more customization. Whether your priority is time management, invoice tracking, improving accountability, or all of the above, you can be certain you are making a worthwhile investment in improving your team’s productivity and your company’s bottom line.

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Summit Financial Resources specializes in working capital financing for small to medium-sized businesses that need increased cash flow. We provide working capital financing through invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing.