Time tracking software doesn’t have to be painful! As a project manager on a variety of agency teams, I’ve used my fair share of time tracking software—both for simply tracking time and also for tracking budgets and estimating future projects. Each team is different, so I’ve chosen a handful of the top time management tools that I recommend, along with summaries of their features, pricing, and main pros and cons to help you choose the right time tracker for your projects.
As project managers trying to manage project budgets and getting our teams to track their time accurately, we use time-tracking tools for many different purposes aside from simply filling in timesheets.
Time management tools can be expensive, so I’ve hunted down a good number of the best free, or nearly free time tracking software. Most importantly, though, we’re looking for the best in class tools that are so easy to use, people actually want to submit their timesheets. Just imagine that!
Time tracking software – why is it important?
Time tracking software and expense tracking software is no one’s idea of a party, but it’s a necessary evil in the digital agency world, for professional services and consulting when you’re charging time and materials or billing by the hour and you need to track budget burn. Likewise, invoicing is not fun, but it’s necessary and requires accurate timesheet detail to function.
Fundamentally, there’s budget and financial tracking information that’s needed to keep a business alive; we need to know the project budget essentials:
- Are we above / below the project budget?
- Are we tracking to hit the budget?
- How much should be invoiced to the client?
- How profitable is the project / job / client?
Accurate timesheet reporting is also important to us as project managers so we can give proper analogous estimates based on past project performance. In order to estimate properly, we need to be able to look back at timesheet data, in the time tracking software and gauge how much should be charged for the next project. We need reliable, accurate time reporting data and people to use time tracking software properly.
Unless you’ve got no interest in the effort it takes to deliver your project, and the profitability of your projects then there’s no avoiding the pain of timesheets, time tracking software and hours reporting.
The problem is, if the time tracking software you’re using is more than a bit fugly and a pain to use, then no one wants to use it, and the data you get from it can be almost useless.
But does time tracking and reporting need to be painful? Surely there must be some hot time tracking software tools out there, right?
The best time tracking software
As a given, the best time tracking software needs to be able to handle large teams, lots of clients and many projects simultaneously. But beyond a product that works well at capturing time, we need to think about what happens with that time-tracked information; how does it start as an estimate, how is it tracked, and once tracked, how is it then invoiced?
In choosing the best time tracking tool, it’s worth thinking through your agency or studio workflow, and think about the end to end experience – from the person creating the estimate to the person doing the work, to the person invoicing it; how does it all fit together?
- Will people actually use it? The software needs to look pretty and be really easy to use.
- Integrate time tracking easily with projects and tasks? It needs to link to a source of truth of clients, projects and tasks.
- Integrate with estimates and tracking? It should easily create a project estimate or quote, and then be able to track estimate vs actuals with visual reporting and analytics.
- Integrate well with invoicing? It has to be easy to then turn project reports and actuals into estimates to send to clients.
- Integrate well with 3rd party applications? Particularly useful is the ability to integrate with accounting software like Quickbooks or Xero.
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1. 10,000ft by Smartsheet – Best for mobile time tracking
10,000ft, a high-level project and resource management software, helps modern teams make confident decisions about project planning, team capacity, budget forecasting, team utilization, and hiring needs in real time.
Built-in timesheets, mobile time tracking, and expense tracking, enables you to create rich project reports by filtering project data with just a few clicks. Reports can give insight into historical data or offer a forecasted view of team utilization, actual vs. planned time reports, budget tracking, expense reports, and projects in the pipeline.
Over 1,000 of the most innovative companies in the world rely on 10,000ft, from 10-person shops and 100-person teams within global brands to 1,000+ person professional services firms. 10,000ft has been recognized for its design excellence with awards from FastCo, SXSW, IxDA + IDSA.
10,000ft easily integrates with a variety of internal workflows and software suites. Additionally, it provides a flexible API and Zapier integration that can connect with top operational tools for analytics, communications, PM, ERP, and finance.
With a unique project and resource matching feature, 10,000ft helps match team members to the project’s requirements according to different criteria like disciplines, skills, availability, and more.
Pricing starts at $25/month.
2. Paymo – Best for desktop widget time tracking option
Paymo is a full-featured work management tool that pairs task management with advanced time tracking functionalities under an intuitive digital workspace. The platform is a popular option because it also integrates planning, resource management, and invoicing, to help you manage your entire workflow and ensure you’re getting paid fairly.
In Paymo, time tracking can be done either via an in-app web timer or manually through the Timesheets module, in case you forgot about the web timer in the first place. There’s also a free desktop widget available for those who are more comfortable working from their Mac, Windows, or Linux taskbar.
If you attend conferences or client meetings and still need to keep track of them, use the mobile app for Android and iOS. They also work offline, just in case you lack Internet connection.
Designers can use the Adobe CC Extension to track time within any Adobe tool with a 2017 or newer license (InDesign, Photoshop, InCopy, Illustrator, and Premiere), while working in parallel at their design sketches.
All time logs are instantly recorded into the Timesheets module to give you an accurate insight into how your team is spending their time. You can then easily turn them into time reports that will help you invoice your clients, spot any bottlenecks, and act as accurate benchmarks for your future projects too.
If you find yourself multitasking or forgot to start your tracker, use PaymoPlus as an automatic time tracking option. The tool tracks all the time spent within a browser tab, file, website, or software. All you have to do is hit Record and you’re all set. At the end of the day, what’s left is to pair up your time entries with their corresponding tasks or set up a rule to do this for you.
Paymo also provides different integration options with tools like Zapier, Google Apps, GrandTotal, or LambdaTest. To customize your own integrations, access Paymo’s API and build them to suit your team’s needs.
Paymo’s time tracking features are free to use for individual users, while paid plans start at $9.56/user/month with a 15-day free trial.
3. actiTIME – Best for small teams and businesses
actiTIME is a time tracking software designed to keep track of hours spent on projects, and it also allows project managers to analyze hours and timesheets to make informed decisions about estimates, invoices, and more.
actiTIME allows you to create projects and allocate tasks to team members so you can keep track of time per project and per task. Project managers can collect data on employee performance, as well as project costs and revenues, and review it in reports and charts.
This tool also offers the ability to compare estimated vs. actual time, as well as the ability to use that information to create invoices and adjust estimates as needed. These features foster a comprehensive and objective analysis of individual and team performance.
actiTIME is highly flexible and configurable to a diverse set of needs and preferences. It can also be integrated with other project management apps through Zapier or their API.
actiTIME offers free plans for teams of up to three members. Paid plans start at $5/user/month, and a free trial is offered.
4. Forecast.app – Best for AI capabilities
Forecast takes advantage of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to support your estimates in becoming better and more accurate. Total time spent on tasks will automatically be benchmarked against your estimates and the AI learns from this to improve future estimates, thereby reducing your risk of under- or over-estimating your projects. This will have a significant impact on the effectiveness of your resource planning, enabling you to improve your delivery and profitability.
Forecast is a full resource project management solution that lets you track time using any method you want. Effortlessly track time on the projects and tasks you are assigned, whether on the go using mobile iOS and Android apps or directly on the web. It’s great for distributed teams and has both daily and weekly timesheet views so you can track time the way that suits you. Set up weekly or daily reminders to ensure that everyone tracks their time correctly. Keeping track of budgets and estimates becomes second nature with Forecast.
Forecast is fully integrated with the most used web apps and they can seamlessly be installed from the app catalog. For instance, the deep Jira integration makes Forecast ideal as a time tracking and resource planning add-on. Forecast’s functionality covers a large spectrum of the capabilities needed to run and manage projects and people effectively, with as little overhead as possible. Forecast can tell you if your project is profitable, how much money your team is making and whether or not your favorite client is also bringing in the most for the bottom line.
Forecast is currently used in 40+ countries worldwide, by agencies, consulting companies, and enterprises – it has Lite, Pro, and Enterprise options that cost from $29/user/month (14-day free trial).
5. monday.com – Best for customization capabilities
monday.com is a project management software with time tracking features that has done away with a lot of the trimmings of typical management tools and focused on simple, visually intuitive layouts that help clarify the sequence of work.
monday.com features for managing projects include resource and project management, time tracking software, collaboration, and reporting features. For example, users can upload and attach files to cards, make comments, mention teammates, and more. It also offers a great project reporting dashboard that can collect data from multiple boards, allowing better tracking abilities of progress.
And while monday.com doesn’t offer a complete set of tools for project accounting and invoicing solution as other tools, you can use monday.com to track hours, timelines, and invoices. You can assign owners to new tasks, prioritize each item, set due dates and know exactly how much time is spent on each project and task. You can also keep track of time on their app.
monday.com’s integrations include business apps like Slack, Google Drive, Gmail, Google Calendar, Jira, GitHub, Trello, Dropbox, Typeform, and many more, accessible via Zapier.
You can try monday.com for free.
6. ProjectManager – Best for real-time monitoring of tracked time.
ProjectManager.com is a project management software that has built in time tracking tools. The tool is cloud-based, making it easy to set up and get started, and its time tracking capabilities are intuitive, making it easy for team members to use as well.
As the software also includes features for planning projects, assigning tasks, and tracking progress, the time tracking features are connected to your projects to keep team members and stakeholders on the same page. Using this tool, you can also manage timesheets, expenses, and workloads. Team members can submit timesheets through the software, which can then be pulled into estimates to send to clients.
The tool offers real-time reporting options, including pre-set reports and the ability to set up your own custom reports. You can also use the real-time dashboard to view current project stats and time tracked.
Native integrations include Google Apps like Drive, Gmail, Calendar, etc. as well as Microsoft Office and Microsoft Project. Other integrations are available through Zapier.
Pricing for ProjectManager.com starts at $15/user/month, with their basic “Personal” plan requiring a minimum of 5 users. They offer a 30 day free trial (a credit card is required to sign up for a free trial).
Actually is a simple and easy to use time tracking tool. This software is suitable for small and medium-sized teams working with projects. Actually, it is easy to enter project hours on desktop and mobile without the frustration of complex forms, timesheets and user interfaces.
It is easy to input hours and view flex time balance. Managers can see missing time entries and check the overall hours by person or by the project. Team and individual flex time balance can be connected to different calendars for holidays—one can even create a calendar of their own. Actually also supports individual workday lengths fluctuating over time. This makes it really easy to track and report the hours of part-time employees. Reporting needs are met quickly with Actually’s dynamic reports.
Actually’s look and feel is fresh and modern, with an easy to use interface design.
Actually provides a simple to use JSON API for retrieving all the data you need for your reporting and other master systems. Actually can also be used for larger teams alongside existing ERP/PSA systems. Actually is also integrated into Silverbucket, the resource planning software, for the combination of agile and extensive project resource planning and hour tracking.
Pricing starts from approximately $4/user/month. 30 days of free trial available.
8. Bill4time – Best for reporting features
Bill4time is the full package – a full-featured time tracking software tool with time tracking, expense tracking, billing & invoicing, invoice templates, and online payments supported by a client portal, it’s more than just time tracking but billing software too.
Bill4time has created some well-designed and good looking tools with mobile and desktop apps to enable some pretty flexible and powerful time tracking; you can simultaneously run timers, record multiple time entries in one screen and automatically convert appointments into time entries. All of this makes time tracking easy.
What’s really unique about Bill4time is really the powerful back-end management functionality that allows you to keep better track of users, projects, clients, and accounting. Using the rich data and dashboards you can easily track financial performance, identify trends, review payment history, productivity, and more so you can more easily optimize performance. Reporting is powerful and flexible so you can be sure to stay on top of the productivity and financial status of your clients and projects.
Bill4time doesn’t have a large back-catalog of integrations but they do have the essentials; Quickbooks, PayPal, and Stripe, so if you’re using those systems, you’re in luck.
Bill4time offers a free 14-day trial and costs from $29/user/month.
9. Hubstaff – Best for remote and distributed teams
Hubstaff is a full-featured, free time tracking software tool (with freemium upgrades) that’s an excellent tool particularly if you’re working with remote or distributed teams. It’s a lightweight, native time tracking tool that includes screenshots, time tracking, and project management. It’s been designed well with a beautifully simple interface and design that makes it really easy for your team to enter their time and for you to track their progress.
Budget management is straightforward – using Hubstaff you can easily set time limits and budgets for your team to bill against with a maximum number of hours you want a member to be able to work in a week and the app will automatically prevent them from exceeding the limit.
When you’re working with a distributed team it can be hard to verify exactly what people are doing and how they’re spending their time so Hubstaff has some pretty handy snooping tools to give you insight into what your team is doing in the time they’re logging to your project with screenshots and activity levels. Now you can also see which applications your team members are using and what URLs they are browsing while they’re tracking time.
Integrations are well supported across stacks of different tools including project management tools Asana, Jira, and Basecamp, payments, accounting and invoicing integrations including QuickBooks, Paypal as well as Salesforce and Zendesk among others.
Hubstaff is a free time tracking software tool although paid versions cost from $5/user/month.
10. Timecamp – Best for integration options
TimeCamp is a great free time tracking software tool (with freemium upgrades) that includes manual and automatic timesheets, a time diary, and automatic task detection capabilities. It’s well designed and easy to use with a clean and fresh design.
TimeCamp is based around projects and tasks, and you can set budgets for either so that you can easily track accumulated hours against projects and tasks. Vacation tracking and accrual tracking are supported with attendance and absence analysis so you can track who is in and who is out at any given time, see when they start and finish work and track their holidays.
Timecamp integrates well with invoicing and is able to automatically (or not) produce invoices based on billable hours with worked generated in TimeCamp. There is an integrated payment gateway and helpfully you can get a notification when a client views an invoice.
A great feature within TimeCamp is their pretty unique time management tools which give some great insights on what are people are actually doing; the most time-consuming websites and applications they’re using, with productivity analysis and detailed history on how people spend their time by using automatic computer usage tracking – this also enables you to evaluate time spent on documents, even tracking offline activity and the ability to approve or reject timesheets.
TimeCamp has got stacks of powerful integrations which make it a very flexible time tracking software tool. Integrations include project management favorites including, Jira, Wrike, Trello, Podio, Basecamp, and Asana – invoicing including Xero, Quickbooks, and Free Agent, as well as Insightly, Wunderlist, and Zapier.
TimeCamp is free time tracking software although paid versions cost from $6/user/month.
Other time tracking software tools worth considering:
None of the above work for you? Check out the list below for 15 additional time tracking software tools:
- Staff Timer
- Minute Dock
- Time Doctor
- Big Time
- Hub Planner
What Do You Think?
What do you think we’re missing? What other time tracking software tools or timesheets software have you found that we don’t know about? We’d love to hear if you’ve got any suggestions, tips or thoughts on using this kind of software – why not share them using the comments below?