Time & Attendance Articles

Free Time Clock Software Trials - 4 Reasons To Try Before You Buy

Wouldn't it be great if we could take home our purchases and try them out before deciding if we want to keep them? That is exactly what many time clock software vendors are providing with their free software trials. It's kind of like a dating relationship. You get to find out if you are compatible, what character traits you like and which ones are likely to drive you crazy, and are there any red flags that would prevent a long-term relationship. This provides an environment to test the relationship before moving forward with a large commitment of resources, both time and money. When taking advantage of free employee time clock software trials, there are several questions you'll want to ask up front. Is the free time clock software trial limited in any way, or is it the fully functioning software? How long will the free trial last? Can I get help and technical support during the free trial period? Do I have to start all over again after the free time clock software trial has finished? These are important questions to ask even before starting the free time clock software trial.

Make Sure It Has the Features You Want
The free timeclock software trial is the perfect time to make sure the time clock program has all the features you'll need. That's why making sure the free trial is fully functional is so important. A limited feature set, or even worse a remote demonstration, are not adequate to make sure the employee time clock software will meet the needs of your business. You should be testing the exact software you'll be asked to buy. You'll also want to make sure you won't have to re-key all of the information you've entered during the free trial after purchasing a permanent license. That's why this dating period is so important. You want to see how your future partner responds in as many different situations as possible before committing to a permanent relationship.

Make Sure It Supports Your Business Payroll Rules
The free timeclock software trial should allow you to fully use the program with your payroll rules. In other words, use the free trial through a complete payroll period. This will allow you to confirm that the software can handle your same payroll cycle, overtime settings, and rounding rules. A great scenario is to run the free timeclock software trial right along with your current time and attendance system. This should bring any obvious deficiencies to the surface. A 30 day trial may sound like enough time to thoroughly test the software, but if you don't start using it for several weeks after downloading then you may run out of time before you're ready. The last thing you need is to have the free trial expire right before you meet with management to demonstrate the new time and attendance system. Free trials based on a number of time clock punches used before expiration may be a better option.

Make Sure It Works In Your Office Configuration
Another crucial test during the free timeclock software trial is to make sure the software will work with your current office configuration. For example, if you're looking for a punch clock replacement, putting an unsupervised computer in the break room may not be the best solution. Now is the time to think through other deployment strategies, like putting personal networked time clocks on all employee computers. This also gives you an opportunity to verify the software will work with your existing infrastructure. This will cut down on unexpected expenses later, since you'll already know what computers meet the system requirements and which ones will need to be upgraded.

Make Sure Employees Find It Easy to Use
Is the new time clock software more or less efficient than the time and attendance system it is replacing? There may be a learning curve for your employees, but the mistakes and inefficiencies should subside within a few days of using the free timeclock software trial. If your employees are still struggling at the end of the trial period, chances are they'll continue to struggle after purchasing a licensed version of the software. If the software is difficult or confusing to set up, don't ignore that as a warning sign that the software may be hard or not intuitive to use as well. This is the time to test the time clock software vendor's support. The kind of help and support you receive during the trial period is a good indicator of the support you'll receive later on. For example, are there multiple ways to contact a member of the technical support team? Beware of time clock software companies that provide email only support as this likely indicates they're not equipped to handle a large volume of support requests, or they aren't involved in time and attendance projects full-time.

Time Clock Software Review Strategies
Here are a couple of quick strategies to help you with the review process. A good rule of thumb is to use your current time and attendance system as a baseline and then start expanding from there. In other words, start by seeing if you can automate your current time and attendance system with the new software. That should immediately eliminate previous inefficiencies. Then start to explore the other features available with the employee time clock software you're testing. Finally, come up with a list of deal breakers (must have features) and a wish list (nice to have features). This will allow you to compare different time clock programs and help you decide which is the best time and attendance solution for your business or organization.