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Tracking your work hours has evolved considerably since Fred Flintstone held a slab of rock in a bird’s mouth and bonked it on the head. Virtual TimeClock ’10, the latest product to tackle the job, has refined employee time tracking to the point where clocks, cards, and their attendant administrative tedium are handily tamed. As the name suggests, Virtual TimeClock replicates the functionality of the traditional employee time clock. The Basic edition runs on a single computer and allows up to three employees. The Pro edition we reviewed removes the three-employee cap and adds features like overtime tracking, vacation accrual, unpaid hours, and a variety of reports. The Network edition pairs a server application with client software to enable multiple interconnected time-clock stations across one or more physical locations.
Virtual TimeClock's excellent Report Writer offers nearly limitless combinations of report parameters without sacrificing ease of use.
From an employee’s perspective, using Virtual TimeClock could hardly be simpler. It does away with paper or magnetic-stripe cards, and employees simply double-click their name on a list to clock in or out. An optional password can be assigned for employees to enter before they clock in or out as well. For organizations that need to track more than simple hours, Virtual TimeClock can track specific activities—useful for situations where you need to track billable hours. Employees can also add a note to any time-clock entry, documenting a flat tire on the way to work, for example. And a built-in messaging system lets users exchange messages. We’re guessing that not many people relish the thought of yet another inbox to manage, but the closed nature of the system might appeal to HR departments who need a private communication channel.
While day-to-day use for employees is simple, administration of Virtual TimeClock is significantly more involved. Setting up the system involves populating eight different lists of information. Some lists require little explanation, like Users and Departments. Others, such as Overtime and Time Deductions, are more complex. A quick-start guide competently takes newbies through the initial configuration process, but a guided setup option would have made the initial heavy lifting much easier. A clear and comprehensive user guide is available, although there aren’t any explanatory screenshots to help you through. Since the software is cross-platform, we can cut Redcort a little slack in that department, but some visual references would be a welcome addition to Virtual TimeClock’s documentation.
Once you’ve got TimeClock up and running, it’s easy to generate detailed reports from the collected data, starting with a handful of baked-in reports. The Report Writer feature can also be used to modify the existing ones or create entirely new reports to suit the needs of your business. Export options let you share data with other applications, though we’d appreciate a bit more flexibility than either tab- or comma-separated text files. Still, Virtual TimeClock manages to put a simple interface on a very flexible and powerful reporting engine—a very difficult and frequently underappreciated feat.
Virtual TimeClock ’10 Pro Edition contains everything a small- to mid-sized company needs to track workers and time-dependent benefits. A lack of visuals in the documentation is made tolerable by a clean and well-thought-out interface. Reporting features can’t eliminate rote administrative tasks entirely, but it can make some of them a lot less onerous.
Virtual TimeClock '10 Pro Edition
COMPANY: Redcort Software
REQUIREMENTS: Mac OS 10.3 or later, 1GHz processor
Simple for employees. Outstanding, highly customizable reporting engine. Cross-platform.
Initial setup can be confusing. Documentation lacks useful illustrations.