Evaluating your needs is key when deciding on a time tracking tool. Are you looking to determine the working hours of yourself and your team, or are you looking for robust project management (PM)-based functionality? Offerings like Editors’ Choice winner TSheets or Hubstaff excel at simple man-hour measurement. If you want more in-depth forecasting and collaboration, however, you’d want to go with products like Wrike and Zoho Projects. Time Doctor (which begins with a free, limited plan) falls somewhere between these two extremes. It can do a lot, even though it has some substantial design flaws. It’s also got some problems in terms of usability.
Pricing and Plans
Time Doctor’s introductory plan is a desktop-only plan that offers no access to the reporting and employee monitoring that you’ll find on paid plans. You’ll be able to use the application to track tasks and work hours but nothing else. The Solo $5-per-month plan is designed for freelancers who want to access the reports and dashboards available on Time Doctor’s web-based client. The $9.99-per-user-per-month Custom plan gives you access to the whole Time Doctor suite, including time sheets, employee monitoring, in-depth reporting, the open application programming interface (API), and a basic payroll module.
Time Doctor’s closest comparison is Hubstaff, which also offers a limited free plan and a Basic $5-per-month plan that gives you access to simple time tracking tools, an employee payment schedule manager, 24/7 support, granular user settings, and employee monitoring features. Hubstaff’s $9-per-user-per-month Premium plan also provides access to an API, Hubstaff’s scheduling tool, invoice creation, and automatic PayPal payments.
The PM solutions I mentioned in the introduction will cost a lot more per month but you’ll be given access to a wide array of features such as cloud-based file sharing, task management delegation, project analysis, expense reporting, budget forecasting, invoicing, payments, tracking billable hours, and projections for future staffing needs. These tools will cost, at minimum, $25 per month when time tracking is included.
Features and User Interface
To take full advantage of all that Time Doctor has to offer, you’ll need to download and install the desktop app or add a Chrome extension, which is a bit of a drag. Within the desktop app, you begin tracking time by typing in the task on which you’re currently working and pressing Play. This will automatically start tracking time and monitoring your behavior while you’re on the clock. The Administrative dashboard, which is only accessible via the web-based client, shows how many hours employees have worked as well as the tasks to which they’re assigned. Administrators can click into a time period to see what employees were looking at, if they signed in late, and if they were idle for certain periods of time. Similar to Hubstaff, which also monitors employee activity, the desktop app tracks webpages visited, keystrokes, and apps used. It can even take screengrabs and snap photos from your webcam. This is a great feature for Big Brother-level oversight, but it makes using the tool a bit annoying because you’ll need to flip from desktop app to web-based app if you’re a user as well as an admin (or you’ll be forced to use Chrome, which isn’t the worst thing in the world but still an annoyance).
Keystrokes and mouse movements are measured at intervals from three minutes to an hour depending on how you choose to configure the option. Time Doctor is so clever that measurements won’t be taken precisely at that interval so people can’t cheat the system by tapping random keys every third minute. The tool also monitors web and app usage, and can capture up to four monitors at once (be sure you aren’t watching Grey’s Anatomy on one screen while working on the other three screens). At this point, Time Doctor can’t grab screenshots on mobile devices, but it can track worker location via GPS. Unlike Hubstaff, which also offers in-depth monitoring, Time Doctor’s webcam shot feature lets admins snap images of remote workers in 10-minute intervals (make sure you slip on a robe if you plan to work from home). Companies can turn off behavioral monitoring or turn off specific aspects of behavioral monitoring. For instance, you can monitor web and app usage without taking screengrabs or you can do everything but take webcam shots.
Time Doctor’s data entry is broken down by projects or departments depending on how you plan to use the tool, and then is broken down by tasks within the given project or department. The software lets you enable permanent tasks that will always live on your dashboard. This is beneficial for companies whose employees perform repetitive tasks and don’t want to go into the system to create new tasks each time they want to be tracked.
Time Doctor can track any data entered into the software and pull it into any report you create by using its seven pre-built reports. Time Doctor even provides a “Poor Time Use” report that tracks how much time your employees spend on social media, news websites, or any other websites you deem off-limits. Unfortunately, this feature won’t tell you if employees were doing something productive on another screen, so employees who like to listen to the news while performing data entry will be logged as time-wasters even though they still got their jobs done. Time Doctor didn’t give me a list of all the websites it deems as time-wasting ones, but it did list Facebook and Youtube in my test account. If you want to micro-manage your micro-management capabilities, then you can submit a list of time-wasting websites to Time Doctor and the company will make this harsh system even harsher. To protect employees, whenever someone clicks on a “Poor Time Use” website, a pop-up message will appear asking if he or she really wants to watch the video or go to that webpage.
Time Doctor lets its users create a client-based system that clients can use to monitor projects, project reports, and screenshots. This is, in essence, a Read-Only version of the tool that gives clients peace of mind by letting them oversee project progression. Admins can restrict which projects and people the client can monitor. You can even white-label the console and URL to make it look more like your company’s website than Time Doctor’s.
By connecting your Payoneer, PayPal, and TransferWise accounts to Time Doctor, you can pay employees for work registered within the system. These are organic integrations that require you to enter your user names and passwords (i.e., no coding required). You can set payments for any custom period you choose. You can edit rates or use fixed-rate payments. You can set up maximum hourly rate limits and maximum rates per payroll period (so that you don’t pay more money than you’ve allotted). You can even mass-pay your entire staff by downloading the CSV file and uploading via the third parties’ payment interface. With Payoneer, you can also use request payment from clients by pushing out automatically built invoices, either on a time interval or manually.
As with Hubstaff and VeriClock, Time Doctor is a tool that also has some built-in employee monitoring capabilities. The Screenshots, Timesheets, and “Web & App Usage” reports can all be incorporated into providing deeper oversight into what employees are doing during work hours and on company machines.
The first important feature to note is screenshots. You have to dig into Company Settings > Manage Users > Advanced Settings to find the configuration options. However, once there, Time Doctor has a few nifty capabilities. You can enable productivity-focused pop-up alerts such as “Are you still working?” and “Poor Time Use.” You can also turn on web and app monitoring. Most importantly, this is where you can set whether or not screenshots are enabled, how often they’re taken, and whether to blur screenshots to obscure data and text (for user privacy reasons).
Once configured, the Screenshots tab will grab images at designated intervals, record data on keystrokes and mouse clicks logged per minute, and log details of whatever task or project for which the employee is currently tracking time. Time Doctor’s webcam shot feature, which Hubstaff doesn’t have, also lets admins collect images of remote workers in the flesh, not just their screens.
The rest of Time Doctor’s employee monitoring functionality is geared around activity and productivity reports. The Web & App Usage report gives you a basic breakdown of time spent on apps and websites, and the Timesheet, Time Use/Poor Time Use, and Projects reports will quantify monitoring data in terms of whether the employee’s time was efficienctly used when working on and completing tasks.
Time Doctor is a time tracking tool with some useful employee monitoring tooling built in. While it pales in comparison to the monitoring capabilities, advanced automation, and deep data analysis of a powerhouse employee monitoring tool such as Teramind, it offers significant added value for companies that need a bit more invasive oversight into employee activities while still maintaining a degree of privacy (with options such as blurred screenshots).
A Few Limitations
Unlike most of the tools we tested, Time Doctor doesn’t allow for IP address restrictions. This means employees can say they’re working from the office when they’re actually on a ski lift. But, if you’re really concerned about this level of slacking off, then you can just force them to turn on webcam snapshots.
The tool also doesn’t provide advanced tracking. Most tracking solutions base their calculus almost entirely on time. There are 24 hours in a day, multiplied by seven days, multiplied by approximately four weeks, multiplied by 12 months. This is the logic that drives other time tracking systems. What TSheets and Wrike do extraordinarily well is acknowledge that work can be done and measured outside of the hour/day/week/month/year calculus. TSheets and Wrike offer advanced tracking for quantities which, if you’re a truck driver or an artisan, might actually be more beneficial than tracking the hours you worked. TSheets specifically can pull these into reports to give you a more dimensional view of how work is being done.
The Bottom Line
Time Doctor isn’t the most attractive or easiest solution to use. TSheets is a sleeker, smarter, more user-friendly time tracking tool. However, Time Doctor does an amazing job combining the basic aspects of PM software with the most advanced aspects of time tracking software to provide a happy middle ground that many users will love. Although it doesn’t earn an Editors’ Choice nod for time tracking solutions, companies that are interested in monitoring employee behavior while tracking time should absolutely test Time Doctor before reaching out to TSheets. However, if tracking time is your sole requirement, then Time Doctor is adequate, leaving just a bit to desire.