Difference Between Time & Attendance Systems and Time Tracking Software

If you’ve ever had to shop for software to track employee time, then you’ve undoubtedly been faced with a few different phrases to describe such software and systems:

  • Time tracking software
  • Time entry software
  • Time and attendance software
  • Timesheet software

They all sound the same, and they generally are – except when it comes to time and attendance.

There are some fundamental differences between web-based time tracking software and time attendance systems, and we regularly field questions from people who are understandably confused about this. So, we thought it would be helpful to explain the differences here.

Time and Attendance

Most of us have had jobs which required us to clock in and out for shifts. Some of us may even remember having paper punch cards that we’d put into a slot on the timeclock, and it would stamp our in/out times on the cards.

Ah, those were the days…

No matter how it was done, the purpose was to make sure we were getting to work and leaving as scheduled, and (most importantly) getting paid for the work we do. That’s the basic concept behind time and attendance systems.

The technology behind these types of systems has evolved considerably, but the need to track time in this manner still exists. Nowadays, there are time clock systems that use biometric recognition, requiring employees to punch in and out using a fingerprint, palm, facial or iris scan. There are also new and improved scheduling tools and automatic integration with payroll systems that take the old time clock systems to the next level.

Many companies need time & attendance solutions in order to accurately pay hourly workers for their work. These systems are good at tracking adherence to schedules (tardiness, absences, etc.). They’re also great for employees who do the same work every day. They work well in certain types of industries, such as:

  • Manufacturing
  • Distribution
  • Retail
  • Food service

Companies in these industries tend to have hourly employees who work on a certain schedule, and are therefore paid based on those hours worked.

Time Tracking/Timesheet Software

Sometimes, companies need to track time for other reasons, such as projects. This is when a time tracking or timesheet solution can really help. For example, companies don’t usually need to track salaried employees’ hours for payroll purposes, but that time still has a cost associated with it. Even though these employees aren’t paid hourly, their hours are not free. Timesheets can help organizations understand how much time projects and tasks take and then translate that time to cost.  It can help them answer questions like:

  • Which projects are more profitable?
  • Which ones aren’t?
  • Which clients should we try and grow?
  • Are my projects behind schedule or going over budget?

Also, many salaried employees perform work for clients that is billable per hour.  The only way to bill for this work accurately is to track time accurately.

Nonprofits are another example of an organization using time tracking software rather than a time and attendance solution. Nonprofits need to track time back to grants and other funding sources, track progress on project work vs the original estimates, and use historical data to sharpen estimates for future projects.

Many organizations have a blend of both time tracking and time and attendance for their hourly and salaried employees.  Which solution is best for your company?

Learn more about how Journyx’s highly configurable and detailed time tracking software for projects, billing, and payroll can help your organization save time and money. Looking for a time and attendance solution instead? Journyx has acquired a leading time and attendance company, Acumen Data Systems, and now offers a complete time clock application and scheduling software, with flexible time collection methods including web, mobile, swipe, and biometric clock hardware.


Check out the infographic below for the key feature differences between time tracking software and time and attendance systems:


Time & Attendance Software vs. Time & Expense Tracking Software: What

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Journyx helps you track time for projects, payroll, and more. Learn how Journyx can help you use time to your advantage in your business.