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You’ve stacked your virtual team with competent, reliable individuals. You’ve designed your team’s core values. The machine has been built, now how do we get it to start churning? Equipping your team with the proper technology and collaborative platforms could make or break your virtual team. Slow or distracting systems mean workflow and productivity will suffer. At the same time, if you’re unable to compare your team’s progress and outcomes with the time it takes them to complete their tasks, you will not be able to measure or assess outcomes and outputs.

Forbes contributor, Michael Batalha, founder and CEO of Admailr, Emercury & Prestige Technologies, notes in his post, “How to Manage a Virtual Work Environment,” that without receiving measurable outcomes from your team, your hands are tied. You will not be able to measure efficiency – or lack it.

“You should be measuring what was done and not done and finding out if things are taking longer than usual to get done…Without quantifiable data like this, you can’t really tell if your virtual environment is working…if it’s taking longer, it’s important to find out why.”

The art of choosing the right time tracking software comes down to knowing your product, your team, and their unique work patterns and needs. If you’re currently using time tracking software that has proven inefficient for your virtual team, start by making a list of the things it was lacking and deciding what you’d be willing to pay for a more comprehensive program.

Of the options out there, some provide the bare minimum for free; some are complex for a low cost; others are costly, but will meet all your company’s needs and save you money in the long run. Some software options are built specifically for freelancers, while others are designed for small to medium remote teams, working collaboratively on multiple projects at a time. Still others are designed for large remote teams, working independently on high-volume tasks. In just a few moments, you can probably appreciate the importance of knowing exactly what your company needs before diving into the time tracking software shark tank.

After sifting through over 500 different options, Capterra published a recent survey in which they named their top eight time tracking software choices. Just as each individual company should do before choosing their software, Capterra made a list of desirable criteria:

  • Offer a freemium version (not a trial or time bound in any way)
  • Provide at least one free integration with a popular tool
  • Provide project management functionality
  • Integrate with or provide a billing system
  • Offer a mobile solution for on-site visits
  • Have that “wow” factor

With these guidelines in mind, they chose AccountSight, Due, Hubstaff, Ronin, Tick, Todo.vu, Toggl, and Trigger.

In a similar effort, Entrepreneur put out their top eight software platforms to track the time needed for employees to complete their projects. Their search was tailored to time tracking software that is most compatible to the freelancer’s work schedule and workload. Author and Co-founder of Ipseity Media, Cynthia Johnson, notes, “But not all time-tracking apps are created equal. Some are created with remote teams in mind, while others prioritize individual freelancers. Some adopt the mindset of the freelance worker, while others focus on making life easier for managers.”

For their top-eight, Entrepreneur chose Due, Sighted, Harvest, TopTracker, Tick, Rescue Time, Toggl, and Klok. Of course, certain software could meet the needs of many different companies, even if they have different individual company needs.

Lastly, employers should not be afraid to shop around. Spend a few months subscribing to several different software through their free trial program, and collect feedback from your team. The only way to know what works for them is to be well versed in what does not.