We recently reviewed ActivTrak, a SaaS product which allows companies to discreetly monitor employees’ computer use. ActivTrak has an emphasis on acting on inappropriate use of time, such as accessing social networks and other web pages. We had some concerns about the practice of monitoring employees passively, rather than promoting good timekeeping in a more positive way.
TimeTac is a cloud time management application which does the opposite of ActivTrak to achieve the same thing. It places the responsibility of accounting for time into the hands of the employee, and makes time tracking a collaborative, public affair. I like this approach as it’s fundamentally based on trust and responsibility.
TimeTac is a time tracking and leave management application in the cloud. The product allows employees to input their work time on the web or through a smartphone, and the data is gathered for analysis and reporting purposes.
Users can sign up for a free 30-day trial before choosing a paid option: Punch, Light and Pro. Each version is priced per user and comes with work and break time tracking facilities, the ability to build teams and departments into the system, reports and exporting of data. The main difference between the three versions that the Light version adds the facility to track time by tasks, whilst the Pro version also adds in project features and a few other extras. You can also purchase Timesheet and Leave Management facilities as add-ons to any of the plans.
At signup, users are asked a series of questions so that TimeTac can be optimised. I went for the maximum functionality possible. This gives you access to a test account with lots of preloaded data for you to play around with.
On logging in for the first time, I was instantly struck by the product’s resemblance to Microsoft’s products. TimeTac really does feel like Outlook. Depending on your viewpoint, you might like this and feel comfortable with it. I was a little bit disappointed.
In the cloud, there’s room to innovate and make products more accessible and intuitive. Just look at Huddle; once you try a really good cloud tool, you’ll instantly appreciate the benefit of a great looking user interface. My first impression was that there would be a bit of a learning curve ahead.
The layout of the application is structured like a desktop application. The top row is a navigation bar featuring a search facility, help, restart and logout buttons.
Below this, and down the left hand side of the page, is where much of the application’s functions are accessed. This includes a Running Task view (allowing you to monitor which colleagues are currently working on which tasks), lists of Tasks and Timestamps, lists of Statistics, Time Management facilities and the Settings list.
The lists are all built around a tree structure. Clicking on any of the items opens up a new tab in the workspace. For example, below I have opened up the Employee statistics tab which is found under the Time Management menu.
Whenever you access one of the items, the tab remains open in the workspace until you close it. This is true for all tabs excluding the Dashboard, Project Planning and Calendar tabs which remain open at all times.
The Dashboard has a message box where you can post messages for the rest of your team. It also provides an overview of the hours worked per user and a to-do list. Within the to-do list, users can kick off live time recording against any task that is assigned to them.
There’s also a Notifications list where other users can send items for you to sign off.
The Project Planning tab uses the same tree structure to display lists of your Projects and the time assigned against different aspects of the project.
The Calendar displays the recording of your time in a Calendar. This is also tied to the Timestamps menu in the left column. This is a nice feature which allows you to include time logged by other employees as well.
There area a huge number of features here. For example, you can extract a number of time-related statistics for a range of dates, which can in turn be exported to Excel. These statistics can be displayed for your entire organisation or broken down further to show items per user(s), project(s), client(s), task type(s) and more.
There are no apparent integrations with other cloud applications. The website indicates that the product integrates with other current office systems, but the look and feel makes me think that this is likely to mean Microsoft products rather than anything based in the cloud. Integrations with other cloud based project management or collaboration applications, such as Huddle or Basecamp, would really take TimeTac to the next level.
Features vs Usability
TimeTac’s functionality is comprehensive and will be a useful addition to any business that needs a very specialised product to monitor time and produce statistics about productivity. It provides a lot of data about how workers spend time on different projects. Small businesses may find the scope of the reporting tools a little dizzying, and the cost of the more capable plans could also be a barrier to adoption among SMEs. I can really see TimeTac benefitting larger organisations, but for startups, it feels like overkill.
I like the overall ethos of the product and the wide range of features it provides towards meeting a very specific need. People working in project management and human resources would undoubtedly get a lot out of it, and those reports really are impressive.
However, I think the software’s biggest flaw is the unfriendly interface; the tree views feel dated, and the desktop look is clunky. I’m surprised that TimeTac’s developers chose to go down this route; yes, it’s good that it’s familiar, but when your competitors are innovating, it’s sometimes better to look forward. Perhaps the developers focused on getting the functionality right at the sacrifice of developing a modern UI, but there’s certainly potential for it to evolve in the future.
Category: Initial Reviews
About the AuthorClaire Broadley is a technical author and SEO copywriter. She reviews cloud applications and SaaS products for Rated Cloud.
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