By: Netsoft Holdings, LLC.
Are you here to search for a tool to do time tracking or monitor your employees? Well, why can’t you just do it manually using clocks and a time entry sheet? Maybe keep some men for inspection of your team members!
Well, we know what kind of look you might be giving right now reading this advice. It’s just too much to do things manually, isn’t it? Don’t worry, just come with us and we will show you such a tool that not only helps to track time of a team but also aids in staff monitoring, payments, projects, efficiency and so on.
We are reviewing a time tracking tool. These tools are made for a mission i.e., Time Tracking. Among such vast options in market, we have one of the top tools for you, which can work very well with any organization.
Hubstaff is one of the leading companies in providing staff monitoring via Time Tracking software. Founded by Dave Nevogt and Jared Brown, in 2012 at Indiana, USA; this company has given stupendous service to private as well as government clients.
Started mainly to monitor their freelance work, they have slowly evolved and now have given us a full-fledged product. With so many detailed functions for each task, the tool did take some learning curve for us.
But worry not, since the UI is designed as per novice users, only a few tutorials and goofing around will teach you many kinds of stuff of this tool. Make sure to learn it on a trial version first and then use main account after you are familiar with most of the app.
In current review, Hubstaff will be tested rigorously. Since it is a top product, we are going to analyze each feature it holds and then pass on our verdict. Let us now find out if this is indeed a top product or not.
Did you visit the website before using it? Well, if no, then take some time and explore the site first and see what features and function it accommodates. After that, it will be easier to deal with the software.
On their website, head on to signup section and choose a plan that you need a trial for. They have given a two-week cost-free demo plan. The only con one may find here is that it needs your payment info and only then you can begin the trial mode. Compared to this, tools like Time Doctor, eBillity, TimeCamp have given full month sample plan and that too without any card details.
Nevertheless, we opted for premium version for 3-5 people and got a trial subscription. If you are a big company who want to check full capabilities of the product, you can ask them to extend your plan, and then you can evaluate it appropriately.
Once you have chosen it, you will be redirected to features selection screen. In this screen, there is a nice visual effect given by them. When you select one of the features, it will be displayed in a visual icon on the right. Once you select all the features, you will have a full picture like in the image below.
Now, the first task that you need to do in Hubstaff after account creation is going through initial setup. The initial setup is pre-prompted by them once your plan is active. This menu contains most important settings options, like time schedule, payments, clients, groups, teams, etc.
Set them up one by one, and then you can go and begin your time tracking task. The main dashboard displayed on screen is quite detailed. You can also customize report that you see on it.
On this dashboard, you can see reports for general time activities like weekly activity, work this week, earned this week, projects worked, worked today, today’s activity, and earned today. Out of these, most terms are self-explanatory, while some of them are unconventional.
In this, Weekly activity represents total time on mouse and keyboard activity divided by total time. So, you can know that how much productivity your employees have shown per week. Keep in mind that this result is highly dependent on job nature.
This is because jobs like marketing, research, theory crafting, etc. need lots of thinking and strategy formulation, which may result in less computer activity and so admins must take note of that too. There is an option today’s activity, which shows same results except that it is for a daily report.
Just below these data, you can see screenshots menu, timesheet data, project data, apps & URLs data, and to-do tasks. More options can be added through modify widget button on top of the screen. You can choose options to be shown in both smaller widget section and significant widget section.
As you install this product on desktop, you need to login to choose preferences accordingly. These include choosing time shifts, work days, screenshot status, notification settings, etc. One thing we thought could be improved here, is eliminating shift selection options altogether from.
You may think why? And to answer it, we’d say that office timings must be given in time-shift settings in cloud interface only and that too only on admin panel. This is to avoid any malpractice by employees. This shift must be customizable for each staff or for entire team.
Once done, there is a timer and project name section on desktop app. Select them and then begin the timer. There is a sync now button on bottom of this desktop app. Use it to sync timer data with server manually. Once you are done with that project, just click completed button and it will stop the timer for that task.
Since the product is so vast, it will take some time for people in grasping full concepts of the product. The subsequent reports will be generated, and then you can use payments and billing sections, and then pay your team members.
As you can infer from above brief account, it does need some learning curve, and so, novice users must be patient with it. As you use it increasingly, you will learn new terms and its process much better than before. Let us now see main functions of Hubstaff.
We have all gone through that school phase where a class monitor keeps an eye on every student and then reports it to the teachers. Just like that, we need a monitor for our company attending all the employees and then report it to admins.
It’s one thing if a company is a startup or a small firm, where it is tough to hide your work-lags. However, for big companies with thousands of employees, it becomes a nightmare to look at every person and collect & report such massive stochastic data.
Also, it is practically impossible to snoop each and every employee’s computer to verify if they aren’t playing solitaire on their machine. For this reason, we need a complete package for employee monitoring.
This activity monitor, along with time tracking, can help to see how many staff members are seriously working on their project and how many are goofing around.
To deal with this problem, Hubstaff comes with an inbuilt activity monitoring tool in their time tracker package. This tool can be accessed in the main navigation bar on left-hand side. Select the Activity Tab from there.
In this tab, there are three main choices. These are Screenshots, Apps & URLs, and Locations. These items are very common in most time trackers nowadays. Let us see what job they can do, and are they good at it or not?
The screenshots section has a preset time of 10 minutes to take screenshots of the desktop. This not only includes storing an image of the screen, but also mentions date and time of the shot. The quality of image is good enough. You can also attach notes for each screenshot and then sort em based on that.
The screenshots from mobile device are also included in this section. The non-registered time will show an empty zone. Compared to other tools like Time Doctor, TimeCamp, and DeskTime, this function does not have anything diverse to offer.
Only perks here is that there are better sorting options. TimeCamp gives added benefit by adding keystrokes and mouse movement percentage in these screenshots. This gives us accurate details about what the person was doing between that time period and on that application.
Talking about the application, we have another function that is used to monitor apps on your desktop. It then gives details on which apps were used and for much time. Click Apps Button in drop-down menu of activity tab. As we have voiced before, activity tab is used to monitor the activities of staff personals with not only screenshots, but apps and websites too.
In this section, apps used by the team members are available. They have divided this section on an hourly basis. It will show a list of apps used, hours spent on it, and how many sessions in it.
This is all that is given in this app report. Now, there is one thing that still deficient in it. That is, capturing the title of the apps. But why? What is the use of capturing an app title?
As you can think it yourself, apps like MS Office, Notepad, or any other useful software may sometimes give wrong impression that the person is doing some useful work. However, the real deal can be different. Also, if we know the title, we can directly see what project they are working on.
Nevertheless, compared to other tools like Time Doctor, RescueTime, etc., no one else had given better feature than here, and so Hubstaff must bag this opportunity and use it to give more precise details of apps used.
Under this section, next part is the URL monitor. As simple as it seems, it is indeed a child’s play to use this tool. You can see the URLs visited on this page. Unlike the apps section, they have given all details here.
They presented the root domain with a + sign on its side. When you click on + sign, it will expand and show a list of exact URLs that were visited. This feature is missing in other tools like Time Doctor, TimeCamp, etc. and so Hubstaff gains +1 here.
Only thing that needs to be added here, is a button to add productive time or unproductive time. This way, admins can precisely categorize shifts of employees and weed out unproductive time from the total work time.
The last item to be checked in activity section is a location button. Note that it is for mobile-only and so will not work on desktop. You can spoof it using emulators if you have location device in your desktop.
The location can be enabled while you are using a task monitoring function in the phone. There was no surprise here as they gave exact location of the device. It was shown on the Google Maps service.
However, there was no option to red flag it or the IP of device address used. Other tools like DeskTime have given a feature where you can restrict the IP address range of workplace. This can be used to ensure that office services are not used at unauthorized places for personal use.
Overall, this was the activity monitoring system. As we have seen from above, the system they used is versatile and can render much information to the admins regarding it.
Unlike other products Time Doctor, TimeCamp, DeskTime, etc., Hubstaff has given better reports on the activity and is more comprehensive than its counterparts. So, it’s now time to review timesheets and other associated stuffs.
Once we have gone through all the activities of our employees, it is now time to check their timesheets before we start salary checkout. For that, we need a detailed report on every hour of work shift that was utilized by them.
Let us see how Hubstaff manages such detailed reports. For this, head to TimeSheets option in main panel on left. Click the range selection, select a range of date, week or months.
After this, it will show reports on the time used. In this report, you can see project name, company name, task name, duration, time span, activity, idle time, and lastly an action button. As usual, the action button is used to do three basic tasks for timesheets, i.e., edit time, split time, and delete time.
The report can be exported to only PDF and CSV format. Compared to other similar tools like eBillity, Time Doctor, etc., they have limited export formats. eBillity has given more than 8 different formats like PDF, CSV, XLS, XLSX, PNG, etc. for exporting reports. This can be provided by Hubstaff too.
In this report, you may find that the total time is not matching. This is due to a mismatch in time zones of employees and the company. It can be easily calibrated by simply changing time zone of affected members.
As you can see in this basic timesheet, they have given provision to edit the time on-go. This means that admins just need to click on highlighted time span entry, and a pop up will appear. In this pop-up, they can edit the time and add reasons for editing below it.
For detailed editing, click the action button and select the edit time button. After that, you can change additional items like project, tasks, etc. here. The weekly timesheets report is similar to this.
You will find some variety in Calendar Sheet. Select the date/week/month that you want to check. The calendar entry will show timesheets divided on per hour basis, over the entire work shift. It is given a green highlight. Click on given entries, and you can once more see action button options like before.
These time entries are divided into hour zones as the projects are undertaken. The last section here is Approval section. This section is used to approve or disapprove time shifts of your employees.
Here, you can view different time shifts of all the members. It will show total hours, activity, and status on it. There is an action button here, too, with options to view, approve, or deny these shifts.
When you click View Timesheet, it will show timesheet report on all working hours in the selected range. Admins can manually use checkboxes to delete or approve timesheets. This type of customization is present in almost every other comparative product and so there is nothing extra or out of the box feature given by Hubstaff here.
Overall, the time report is neither too detailed nor too short. This puts it in center zone with satisfactory info, so admins need not to waste too much time on it. Admins can allow modifying time as per company norms. As we had said earlier, Hubstaff’s timesheet didn’t offer any extravaganza and kept it pretty simple.
Reports, reports, bring me the reports! Complete this report, submit it now, blah, blah! These words are heard quite often in most offices, especially near the months or a fiscal end. What are these reports that we are insisting on? Do I need to generate a sales report, loss reports, etc. in this application?
Well, do not worry. In here, we are only concerned with reports on attendance and activity. Other things are out of scope for this application. Let us check what kind of reports do they generate in Hubstaff.
Hubstaff has several categories in reports section. These are general, payments, budgets & limits, time off, invoice, and schedule. Out of these, the main reports are for Time & activities, Weekly reports, Payments and Accounts owned.
To review it, we need to check in details on how they present time monitoring data to us. Not only this data must be full-proof, but it must also be represented in good visual format.
The first section, time, and activities report shows a time report along with activities in that period. In this panel, they have shown a graph with date as abscissa and time as ordinate. Above the graph, it displays total time, average activity, and spent money.
Just below this graph, you can see the usual data of a timesheet report. It has shown project name, members, to-dos, time taken, activity, idle time, spent money, billable amount, and notes. This can be sorted either based on dates, members, projects, or just clients. Choose any one which makes it easier for admins.
Compared to others, this report once again failed to give better understanding of results. The format can be out in form of pie charts and graphs which show most data on them. Similar to this, the weekly report also compares work shift reports for two employees.
In general report, the next section is apps and URLs report. As usual, it has a list of all apps and URLs used during that time period. It will then display time spent on each of these items and then usage percentage of complete list.
There is one thing lacking here, and that is a productivity report. This means that although you can see complete time, it is hard to determine which was useful and which was not. Other tools like Time Doctor, DeskTime, etc. have given this category in report section to help sort them out.
They also lack proper visual representation of app and URL usage in graphical format, like a bar graph or pie chart. Such visual graphics can lower the time spent by admins in reading these long lists of activities.
The last report in general section is manual time editing. As we know that we may forget to start the timer sometimes, or due to any technical reasons the timer stops. Then we need to add time manually to our work shift entry.
The next entry is for Payments Reports. You will see reports on amount owed here. It is calculated based on hourly rates and total hour worked. Once again, there is a small graph here to show that. This time the vertical axis has amount paid as its value.
Other than this, there is a payment report that will list out all the payments made until today. You can sort it based on an individual or the date it was paid on. Compared to other tools like Time Doctor, TimeCamp, eBillity, etc., Hubstaff needs to give more details into this report to stand apart.
Next section is budgeting and limits section. The first choice Weekly Limit allows admins to see how much time has been utilized until now by the team members. This helps to limit total work shift and avoid overpayments. This limit can be set manually for each employee in user settings.
After this, there is a project and client budget report. Based on different projects, admins can set budget limit either in terms of bill rate or total hours. This will be shown in the project budget report.
It will list out total budget used till date along with percentage value. Same method is used to report the client budget. This was all in the budget report in Hubstaff.
Similarly, time off balances and transactions are also shown in it. Time-off is generally unpaid, but different companies have different policies. Depending on that, this report can show list of total time offs and their transaction status.
Next part is Invoice Reports. We will not discuss invoice section in detail here. In this section, you can enlist a report for all invoices generated, either for clients or team members. These reports are fundamental, and so there is nothing better than other equivalent products.
In same section, you can also view reports on invoice aging of clients and team members. This can help you see pattern of payments for different clients and team members. Moreover, in future, admins can adjust their payments methods accordingly.
Lastly, the most dreadful report in office, i.e., the Attendance Report. Since work-shifts and number of days worked are critical in salary structure, this is the most focused zone for most admins.
In here, attendance report only shows info about work shift, required hours, and actual worked hours. This info can be exported too. Admins can sort this data based on date or individual members.
It lacks a feature to add reasons for late shifts, abandoned shift, leaves, etc. Also, there is no use of color codes for late shifts, leaves, or completed shifts. This makes it tedious to read this report.
All in all, Hubstaff has done decent work in categorizing these reports and presenting them in sub-groups. Only thing we felt that was lacking, was not having a improved visual presentation of data. Usage of color codes was also limited, and that made reading reports boring.
Other than that, putting more details in them can make it much better. The export function also needs more file types like XLS, XLSX, PNG, etc. Moreover, Hubstaff has maintained its reputation by providing a satisfying experience in this section.
Having gone through all reports and activity sheets, it is time for admins to generate invoices and pay their staff members. In this section, we will assess payment methods, billing rates, and payments records.
To access the payment stuff, head on to payments tab on the left-side navigation pane. In this section, Send, Payroll and Past are three main tabs.
Send payments tab is used to pay team members. There is no dedicated invoice generation here. This tab allows you to sort the unpaid payments. You can export unpaid data created for selected time range here.
Hit send payments button to give payments via selected transfer method. The second method is based on approved timesheets. This method is useful to do automatic payments. Once timesheets are approved, it will pay automatically based on hourly rates.
Then comes One Time Payment. It is like rough handling of money. It is used to directly deliver payments to the selected person in the list. You can add notes in the section below along with reasons for pay.
After this, comes the second payment method, i.e., Payroll. This is to make entire process automated. For this method to work, admins need to set a payment method. The main payment processors here are Bitwage, Payoneer, PayPal, and TransferWise.
Choose any one method from above and then add members that you want to payed automatically. Once done, reports will be generated, and they will be paid accordingly on basis of their rates.
Lastly, in the payment zone we have Past Payments. As you have estimated it, this is to display past payments done by the company. It shows some minor details of payments done in past, like pay dates, payees, amount, status, and dates.
Admins can view or pay them via action button. Now that you know all about payments processes, there’s one last thing to be reviewed here. The last section in this part is Invoice Generation. What good is amazing payment setup without provision to generate different invoices and pay them automatically? Go to the invoice tab from the main navigation bar.
The invoice section has a feature to generate invoices for clients and team members. To generate it, click the New Invoice button on this page. On the invoice making page, there are several fields to be filled.
The main fields that you need to complete are invoice number, PO number, issue date, and due date, description, and a note. Apart from this, there is a column field just below these items where you can fill other details like item quantity, unit price, amount, taxes, and discounts.
Once you add data into them accordingly, it will automatically calculate the prices and display the total in bottom. Now you may wonder how to generate the pricing for hourly based work of my team members.
For this, Hubstaff has given Generate Line Items button below. Click on it to see a new pop up. In this pop-up, admins must select a date range, projects, members, and sorting method.
Hubstaff will automatically calculate the sum based on rates assigned. In this report, it will show total work hours in quantity field, per hour rate and total amount. Admins can add two taxes and add discounts here.
After putting every cost in the description, there are two options to finalize things. One is save as a draft, and other is save & send. The first button saves as draft will first save the invoice and then redirect it to payment page.
On the finalize page, you will see a typical invoice arranged appropriately, along with company logos, address, and other stuff. You can choose an option view as a client to see a PDF version of the same.
Hit the record payment button, and it will complete payment process based on payment gateway you choose earlier. Remember that record payment will mark the invoice as completed.
The other option, save & send is used to send draft of an invoice for selected employees. However, there is no provision to generate a bulk invoice for every employee and send them mails before the salary checkouts automatically.
Compared to another tool like eBillity, Hubstaff still lacks a detailed invoice generation as well as automatic payment gateways. There is no mention for employee details like their name, ID numbers, addresses, currency details, and so on.
TimeCamp had provided much better invoice features and had all above details in their invoice portal. Another thing is that the invoice section has no pay option directly.
On the main list of invoices, there is only option to edit, or delete invoices. Adding a pay-now button can reduce the baggage of navigating to a separate section and rather pay from here.
So, this was all about the payment section in Hubstaff. We have already reviewed payment gateways, invoices, and entire procedure of the same. Honestly, this section has a bit of learning curve, which is expected.
After couple of uses and transactions, the salaried staff can easily navigate through it. Some good features are missing in it like bulk invoice generations and automatic payments to every employee and so on. It also lacks detailed invoicing.
Nevertheless, the setup given by Hubstaff is enough to work around for average practice. There are integrations with other accounting software which can help to ease these things. However, in the current version, Hubstaff’s salary and billing section are among average joes in the market.
Did your boss just throw those project files on your face? Or, you are confused about how to track each project and time taken? Or maybe, there’s a project that costs differently than the company’s usual rates and needs to be monitored separately!
For all these troubles, a simple project manager could resolve these issues. Now, most of the tools like Hubstaff have given feature to add and track each project separately. In Hubstaff too, there is a basic project management system, which we will review now.
The project management can be opened from admin section in the main navigation bar. From here, the main panel for project management will open. In this listing, you can check projects created and assigned to different team members.
To create one, click add project button on this page. On the new project page, input all the details of project like project name, tracking time, budget, team members, and project description.
If you compare it to other tracking tools like Time Doctor, TimeCamp, DeskTime, etc., Hubstaff’s project manager looks absurd. It is very much basic and offers mediocre services.
However, there is a catch here. Since the main project manager is so basic, it might be possible that they have a separate product for it or else they rely heavily on external integrations.
Well, both cases are true here. Hubstaff has its own project manager named Hubstaff Tasks to oversee this. Also, there are multiple integrations with tools like Asana, GitHub, etc., to manage projects. We are not going to discuss Hubstaff Tasks here as that is entirely a new product.
There is a To-Dos section also in the main feature. Just like subtasks in a project, admins can assign subtask in it. There is too little customization here.
Unlike TimeCamp, Hubstaff has average sub-task feature in it. There is no provision to add keywords in it. You cannot add different team members roles in different projects in Hubstaff, although you can easily do these things in its complementary product.
Overall, the default project manager is mediocre comparatively. We would only say that this section looks very underwhelming compared to other features in Hubstaff. So, if you want detailed support for projects, you will have to use either their separate product or use an external integration.
As we have discussed fundamental function of Hubstaff in above sections, we must now review a few extra ones. There is one such feature called Client Manager.
You can access it in admin’s section. The client manager is used to add clients to different projects. When adding new clients, the main option you see in form fields are name, Email ID, address, project, organization notes, and net terms.
As we can see, these items are most basic in client addition. Other tools as in Time Doctor, TimeCamp, etc., have a similar setup for client management. As discussed before, company can pay their client directly from the payment center.
Admins can only track them via projects assigned. There is no provision to generate a separate quotation for these clients. This is one minor flaw in this part. They should have given more customization options and payment setups for clients.
Then there is a separate scheduling section for team members. As you know, trackers inbuilt have to be started manually if you do not have a fixed time schedule. But then, what about those 9-6 jobs?
In this issue, add the time schedule as per company time. For daily fixed shifts, this section is useful to begin automated tracking. There is no need to add projects for regular shift employees. Other than this, there is no additional customization in schedules. There is no provision for holiday addition, no attendance checks, no leave counter, etc. in Hubstaff.
Since there is no leave manager, they have given a Time-Off feature. Time-off feature is used to request time-off from work shift. It is simply asking for leave as we did in early school days.
Users who need time-off need to submit their request via this section. Add time range and date range for your time offs. Select a breaks policy and then add the reasons for it. Submit it for approvals and hope those guys in admin zone grant it. Admins can view these requests in their panel. They can choose to approve or deny them.
The time-off policy can be changed in the settings menu. Contrary to what we said earlier, we found a holiday section here. Add the holiday dates here, and it will manage things automatically. Only issue is that you cannot input entire week or month directly.
It needs to separate dates to be added for each holiday, and this makes it very cumbersome. Regardless of this, most of these features are quite remarkable, and many are lacking too. We hope to get better improvements in future updates with lots of extra non-core features.
When it comes to UI setup, Hubstaff definitely steals the show. Only simple monitoring and salary checkouts aren’t going to cut it. Every digital product needs a robust UI. In Hubstaff, they have given application on multiple platforms. They are over desktop like on Windows OS, macOS, and on mobile devices like iOS, and Android.
The desktop app is used to track time and applications used. It is in the tray menu. You can manually start/stop time tracked here. You can also add notes here. If you have assigned any to-dos in the web setup, you can find them here. You can switch back and forth various tasks, sub-tasks, and to-dos from here.
There is a preference menu where the user can set their time tracking period, set screenshot limits, and so on. Other than this, there is nothing much better to be seen in this version.
All the features that we’ve talked above are present in web UI. This web UI is from where most of the settings and operating of applications is done. Both web UI and desktop setup are robust and novice-friendly.
Only thing we felt could have been improvised, is using a more visual and graphical approach to data presentation. There were no pie charts, bar graphs, etc. for data representation in report section, which made it very boring and lethargic.
Also, there were very instances where limited color codes usage, e.g., timesheet. The main theme is constant throughout the setup and looks better. We hope that Hubstaff produces better graphics and UI presentation, as mentioned above.
Finally, over the mobile platform, if you compare Hubstaff with other tools like Time Doctor, TimeCamp, DeskTime, etc., they have given way better app in iOS and Android. In the mobile version, all you need to do is to login into your account. After that, you can see the dashboard on your phone itself. You can view the records of your team from here.
Like the web interface, main tabs in mobile are Timer, Dashboard, Timesheet, Schedules, Activities, and Reports. All of them work in same manner as we have reviewed above. Thus, the mobile interface is also as developed as a web interface. Now the bosses can snoop their team members while on vacation or out of office. Only issue here is that there is no TFA in mobile application.
Although some of you may think why need a two-factor authentication in phones? But with ever increasing demand for security and privacy, it won’t be a loss for Hubstaff to include better security features in it.
Overall, the UI on its every platform was competitive, and we did not find any trouble using it. There are some sections with a definite learning curve, but there is nothing like super confusing stuff.
Being critical in managing things independently and efficiently, some external integrations are needed for these apps. Some of the most used integrations in Hubstaff are as listed below:
Project Management: Active Collab, Asana, Basecamp, GitHub, GitLab, Podio, Jira, Zoho Projects, etc.
Payments, Invoice, and Accountings: BitWage, FreshBooks, Payoneer, PayPal, QuickBooks, TransferWise.
Others: SalesForce, FreshDesk, Zendesk.
As we can see above, these integrations are very limited. They have crowded the project management zone despite having their own products for it. Payment gateways are limited too. Users can only hope here that Hubstaff integrates more of them in later updates.
Have you already tested the trial version of the software? If not, then do it!
The two-week trial mode of the premium setup is more than enough to judge capabilities of this tool. Now the million-dollar question after such a long review is, should I purchase a subscription for it?
Well, to be honest, we would suggest you go ahead and purchase it. You can opt to be a skeptic and try the software to its fullest before spending on it. The pricing is bit affordable, and the features are much better than some of the tool mentioned above.
There were very little discrepancies encountered by us while using the tool, and most of them were only base UI issues. We got a bug free experience while using it. Hubstaff therefore is, without a doubt, the top product in time tracking market.
Put your thoughts below and tell us about your involvement with this tool.