Most Suitable Time and Attendance Systems for Manufacturing Companies

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 30/01/2023
time and attendance system for manufacturing

If you have already shortlisted some time and attendance systems but aren’t sure where to go from here - this article is for you. We will highlight key points to turn attention to before you fully commit to the tool. Additionally, we will offer tips for further research in case none of your shortlisted candidates turns out to suit your needs.

Judging from the fact you are reading this, you are most likely familiar with the benefits of time and attendance systems. What’s more, you are interested in utilising them in your manufacturing business. The issue is that digitisation of the industry is still in its early phases, and it’s therefore difficult to correctly deduce what solution will suit your needs the best. And since most industry players are in the same position, there’s not much guidance from more successful companies. 

But don’t worry - we happen to hold a lot of knowledge on the topic. Having closely worked with manufacturing and engineering companies for years, as well as being a software company, we are happy to share our tips and insights. In this article, we are hoping to help you make a decision on what tool will serve your business goals best. It is much simpler than you think and by the end of this post, you may have a definite answer. 

How Do You Choose the Best Time and Attendance System?

The choice of the most suitable time and attendance system relies on two factors. One is the core functionality for such software. The second is additional features your business needs for its unique and specific operations.

While we cannot define the right feature set for individual businesses as there is, understandably, no one-for-all solution, we can outline what’s the cornerstone of decent software. That’s what our next section will be about. We will then follow it up with additional points companies should take notice of prior to making a decision. 

Core Features for Manufacturing Businesses

If you’ve taken time to do even the slightest research on time and attendance systems, you’ve come across countless features listed for each. You might be under impression that a business in a niche industry like manufacturing needs a very powerful, function-packed solution. Here are some good news - not quite. There are two key features you need to care about the most. 

Clocking In and Out

Naturally, as the name suggests, you want time and attendance systems to grant you visibility of those two areas. Namely to ensure your workers are actually putting in the time they are paid for. The reason why software is a desired solution for that is the issue many companies across all sectors ran into - more traditional measures are easy to tamper with. The easiest to malicious altercation are paper timesheets. It takes close to no effort to simply put incorrect numbers on them, without a very low possibility the employer catches it. Swipe cards are a more innovative approach, but also easily misused. With an earlier agreement in place, workers could give each other their cards to have them swiped even when they don’t show up for work. 

There are two types of solutions that tackle these issues. There is a biometric system. Similarly to card swiping, it requires physical contact with a terminal. Only it would read the employer’s unique physical information instead of a card. The downside of it is that installation and maintenance are costly. It is also not suitable for companies that operate across different sites. The second type is timesheet software. Each worker has their unique login information into an easily accessible portal, where they fill their personal timesheets. Often the software is available in a format of an app and some include additional security measures, just as geo-tracking. It is easily the cheapest and most convenient clocking in/out method currently available. 

Holiday Management for Resource Distribution

Holiday management is generally a handy feature to have. Instead of back-and-forth emails that can get lost, they centralise the booking of time off work. It may sound more like a nice-to-have feature rather than something essential, but don’t rush to write it off as such. A holiday management platform logs information when the leave request is approved. You can then review it in the context of your entire team’s availability, quickly identifying potential workforce gaps. Similarly, it can be used when making a decision about whether you are granting someone time off or not. If you see the period requested being low on staff, you have the right to decline the request.

To put it shortly, a centralised holiday management system keeps you in control of where you apply your work resources. Such makes it easy for you to avoid being understaffed, an issue many manufacturing businesses struggle with. Additionally, it also prevents overstaffing on days you know you will be paying more for the redundant workforce than the profits you make. It can also help you identify suspicious absence patterns right as they begin emerging. With absenteeism being among the main budget drains, early recognition can save you a lot of money.

Educated Decisions Bring Success

One of the less talked about challenges that come up when trying to adopt time and attendance systems is that features aren’t all that matters. You also need to ensure the provider’s policy matches your needs. As well as ensure your workers are on board with the changes and use the new software accordingly. 

Research the Vendor

In a densely saturated market, it would be naive to expect you won’t come across solutions that look identical. The key difference may not necessarily be the features: it can be the price, the level of support provided, different tiers and many more. The secret of finding the right system isn’t all about what it can do, but also how well do post-purchase services of the vendor match your and your team’s needs. For example, if your company is less savvy, you might want to go with a vendor that will set the software up for you. 

You also want to pay attention to things like SLAs and privacy policies. This way you will know what level of support can be expected, how will your company's data be protected and if it’s being used for anything. Some companies pride themselves on strong customer support, while others leave the door open, but aren’t prioritising it. It may sound bad, but it really isn’t - and Timesheet Portal is the prime example. Simply put, we spend a lot of time scoping what exactly our customers need and then setting our platform up for them to match their specific requirements. We also provide training before you dive head-first into exploring the tool. Our goal is to ensure you have your questions answered beforehand and are confident to start reaping benefits right away. Of course, you can always contact us for additional support - but we try to make sure your experience is smooth enough you never need it in the first place. 

Listen to the Team

Often companies make decisions to purchase software without consulting the workers who will be ultimately using it. No matter how big your organisation is or how hands-on you are, you don’t have the same expertise as your employees. For example, if you’re an office-based manager or the owner, you have no visibility of what the day-to-day life of on-site workers is. Not from their perspective, at least.  Your judgement of the best time and attendance solution will therefore be based on your assumptions and the benefits you believe it will bring the company. To your workers, however, it can be simply inconvenient. 

When you shortlist the time and attendance systems you believe are most suitable to your business, it’s time you consult the people who will be utilising them on daily basis. If possible, get free trials of the solutions and run tests by letting your team use the tool for as long as it lasts. Then, collect their feedback. Also keep in mind that with T&A systems specifically, the on-site workers won’t be the only ones using it. While they make up the majority of end users, other departments like HR and accounting will also be utilising the tool. Or rather the data it collects. If possible, try to get as many testers from different parts of your business as possible. This way you can spot the solution that isn’t just useful but also preferred by your workers. 

Look Past Manufacturing Industry

Although the software market is populated, the manufacturing industry is still taking its first steps towards digitisation. Most software providers have caught up to growing demand and a gap in the market and are trying to capitalise on it. With that said, just because it says ‘manufacturing software’, doesn’t mean it’s the best solution available for you. 

Features, not Keywords

The reality is that vendors are aware the companies of niche markets like manufacturing will probably seek niche solutions. It’s a known marketing trick when a solution that is otherwise not different from a generalised one is presented as industry-specific. And then, under the pretence of being niche, it costs more than a non-sector-specified tool.  While we are not discouraging you from looking for manufacturing-aimed solutions, we strongly advise keeping your mind open to software that does not include ‘manufacturing’ in its page title or copy. Of course, using the keywords can guide you to solutions that offer the list of features you require quicker, but there’s a chance you’ll be paying for this convenience. 

The label of industry-specific also doesn’t always mean the tool is perfect for the said industry. Ultimately, the answer you seek lies within features. There aren’t many software functions that are only relevant to one industry, and therefore sometimes a solution aimed at a completely different sector from yours may be relevant for your business. All in all, instead of titles and labels, focus on the actual features. If they sound like something you’re after, it matters not who does the vendor originally market to. Believe us, they will not turn your money down even if you’re not the audience they’re aiming at. As long as the tool does its job and meets your requirements, the words it’s described in do not matter.


Sometimes the final step of choosing software can be the most difficult one. When reviewing your shortlisted candidates, it’s important not to lose sight of the core functionality and how well they are presented. The additional features come as secondary. Where possible, seek to either try the tool out or have a live demonstration. This way you will get a touch and feel of it instead of relying on the vendor’s words only. 

Speaking of the vendor - another decision-driving criterion should be how compatible you are with the provider company of the solution. Investigate their company values, the support they offer and the general service you will be receiving post-purchase. Finally, don’t try to make the decision alone. Involve your team, and namely the direct future users of the tool. They have a better understanding of what they need and will therefore be able to provide you with view-changing insights you would otherwise have no access to.

We hope you now know which tool from your list you will be employing. And if it is Timesheet Portal, give us a shout.

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