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stratustime Review: Best Time and Attendance System for Small Businesses

After conducting extensive research and analysis, we recommend stratustime as the best time and attendance system for small businesses. To understand how we selected our best picks, view our methodology and a comprehensive list of time and attendance systems on our best picks page.

stratustime combines a wide range of time-tracking options and features with an easy-to-use interface and excellent customer support.

stratustime has a base cost of $4 per employee. There is also an installation and implementation charge based on the number of employees you have.

stratustime from nettime solutions has all of the features and tools businesses of any size would want in a time and attendance system. It tracks all of a business's time needs, including when employees come and go, when they take breaks, how long they work on certain projects, and how much paid time off (PTO) they've accrued.

Employees have five different ways to clock in and out, as well as manage their time:

  1. Traditional time clocks: The stratustime time clocks are cloud-based and can collect information via fingerprints, magnetic stripes, bar codes, proximity badges and touch screens. The time clocks automatically and instantly transfer the time employees punch in and out into the software. This gives managers instant visibility into when their employees are arriving and leaving work each day.
  2. Mobile-friendly website: The mobile website lets remote workers manage their time via any iOS, Android or BlackBerry smartphone or tablet. Employees can use the site to clock in and out, transfer where their time is being allocated, approve their time cards, and request time off. Managers can use the mobile website to approve time off and review time sheets. The mobile-friendly site uses geofencing to define the locations where employees can punch in and out. It uses geolocation technology to monitor where employees are starting and ending their shifts.
  3. Telephones: The IVR feature allows employees to call in from any phone to clock in and out, transfer their hours, submit time sheets, and check PTO balances. With this option, employers have the ability to restrict access to the system based on phone numbers.
  4. Web kiosk: The stratustime web kiosk can be used in place of, or in addition to, a traditional time clock. The kiosk can be set up on any computer or tablet and be placed in areas of high employee traffic. With this setup, workers can quickly clock in and out. No extra hardware, software or employee training are required.
  5. Computers: The final way for employees to manage their time is from any computer connected to the internet. Employees can log in to the online portal from their desks to manage all of their time and attendance needs.

Editor's Note: Looking for information on time and attendance systems? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

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Besides recording the hours employees work each day, the system has a job-tracking tool that logs how long employees work on specific projects. This can be valuable for employers, such as IT consultants or law firms, that bill clients based on the hours employees spend working on their tasks.

The system also handles all PTO management. It tracks accruals, allows employees to request time off, and lets managers approve or deny those requests. We really like that the system handles all time-off issues. Not all of the other services we examined had this capability.

stratustime manages your company’s paid time off. Besides tracking accruals, employees can also request time off within the system.

stratustime also allows employers to generate schedules for individual employees, departments or shifts, all via the online portal. Besides designating when employees should start and end their shifts, the visual scheduler lets managers add in when breaks and meals should be taken. You can also click and drag schedules to copy them from employee to employee for quick assignment. The stratustime scheduling tool was among the most robust we saw during our research.

In all, stratustime's time-tracking options are among the most comprehensive we found. While many other providers offer some of these tools, few provide all of what's included here.

Since the stratustime system is cloud-based, there is no special hardware or software to purchase (unless you decide to buy the time clock). You don't have the added expense of having to maintain and upgrade the system, either. Instead, you pay a monthly fee based on the number of employees you have.

The base fee for this system is $4 per month per employee. Included in the base fee are all of the time-and-attendance-tracking features, the scheduling tools, the employee self-service access, and a variety of labor analytics.

Some of the more advanced tools come with an additional cost. Among the features businesses have to pay extra for — starting at 25 cents per employee, per month — are the PTO management, mobile access, automatic alerts, job forecasting, advanced reports and a point-tracking system, which keeps records of when employees are absent or late.

Although there is typically an extra charge for these features, one of the sales agents we spoke with when researching the system said he would include many of these tools in our plan for no added cost.

In addition to the monthly fees, there is a one-time implementation charge. We were quoted $1,500 for a business with from 20 to 25 employees. That amount could change with the number of employees. 

The implementation charge covers the cost of having stratustime employees customize the system for your specific needs. This includes adding employees to the system, setting up PTO-accrual information, and creating alerts for when employees forget to clock in or when they're nearing overtime. In addition, managers and administrators receive special training sessions. Most of the other providers we examined did not offer this type of "white glove" setup service.

The only other costs arise if you want to buy or rent the company's time clocks. Purchase costs for the clocks can range from $1,900 to $2,800, depending on the model you choose. You can also rent the clocks for between $90 and $120 per month.

Small businesses will like how straightforward stratustime is to use. In addition to the simplicity of clocking in and out, the system's online portal is just as easy to navigate, and the interface was the best we found while analyzing time and attendance systems.

For employees, the online dashboard is divided into six main sections: Actions, Schedules, Time Off, Messages, Time Card and Reports. Within these sections, employees can submit their weekly time cards; check their schedules by day, week or month; request time off; view a companywide vacation schedule; send and receive messages; review previous time cards; and run various reports on schedules and PTO accruals. 

The employee dashboard also includes several small icons that allow employees to quickly clock in and out. Out of all of the systems we looked into, we liked the layout of stratustime's employee portal the best. Everything is clearly labeled with easy-to-understand icons.

The stratustime employee dashboard is easy to navigate with its large icons. Within the sections employees can submit their weekly time cards, check their schedules, request time off, review previous time cards and run reports.

The manager dashboard is a bit more sophisticated. The home page provides a quick overview of the office. There is an "in and out" board, which shows who is currently working, in addition to options to see the total number of hours worked during the week or the most recent employees to clock in and out. The manager home page also has a notifications bar that alerts supervisors to messages they have, employees who have forgotten to punch in or out, and PTO requests. This makes it easy to quickly see the tasks that need immediate attention.

We like that the home page can be completely customized according to what each manager finds most valuable. Many of the other services we looked into failed to offer this level of personalization.

In addition to the home page, there are five main sections in the manager dashboard: Employees, Time Cards, Schedules, Time Off and Reports. These sections allow company leaders to see the hours each employee worked and the employee's  PTO accruals, as well as review, edit and approve time cards; approve or deny time off requests; and create schedules.

In addition, managers can use the reports section to view data on things like projected wages, hours paid, weekly schedules and labor distributions. One nice feature is that you can have regularly reviewed reports automatically emailed to you. For example, if you like to look at your staff's schedule at the start of each week, the system will automatically generate the report and have it waiting in your inbox on Monday morning. Most of the other systems we examined didn't offer this feature.

The system also integrates with more than 60 payroll services. This allows you to easily transfer time and attendance data into your payroll without any added work.

We couldn't have been more pleased with the level of customer service we received from stratustime. To gauge what customers can expect from the support team, we called the company multiple times, posing as a new business owner interested in time and attendance systems.

During our initial call, we were immediately connected to a customer representative who was able to answer all of our questions. In subsequent calls, we were a little disappointed when our calls were transferred to an employee's voicemail box. However, we were pleasantly surprised that our call was returned in a matter of minutes each time.

Each of the representatives we spoke with gave us thorough answers to all of our questions. They also all immediately emailed us additional information on the service as soon as our calls were complete. Some of the other providers we spoke to never offered to send us more detailed information, or when we asked for it, they said they had nothing to send.

We were also pleased that the representatives didn't try to pressure us into signing up for the system. Instead, they made us feel that they were comfortable spending the necessary time making sure we had all the details we wanted. Some of the other providers we spoke with were less responsive, especially after we indicated that we weren't planning to immediately make a final purchase decision. 

In addition to the calls, we also were given a personalized demonstration of the system to see how it operated. During this one-on-one demo, the sales rep walked us through every aspect of the system, step by step. She explained how all of the features worked and showed us the system from the perspective of both the employee and the manager. We did not get this extra level of service from many of the other providers we examined. 

The company offers support to its customers via phone and email from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday. Employees and managers also have access to a variety of help options, such as tutorials and help videos, as well as the "walk me" feature, which assists users in real time while the system is being used.

The biggest downside of stratustime is the one-time setup fee. Many of the other companies we analyzed didn't have implementation charges, but they also failed to provide the same high-level service in setting up the system. If you don't feel comfortable with the one-time cost, we would encourage you to consider a provider that charges only monthly fees for the service, such as uAttend, our pick for the best time and attendance system for small offices

Other potential negatives of stratustime include that the company doesn't offer customer support on the weekends and that there isn't a live-chat tool to quickly get questions answered.

Ready to choose a time and attendance system? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Editor's Note: Looking for information on time and attendance systems? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need: 

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Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.