How to Find the Best Time Tracking Software for Low-Budget Projects?

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 03/10/2022
time tracking on budget

This article is for project managers who are facing the dilemma of being allocated a limited amount of money to deliver outstanding results. We will be sharing recommendations on how to find the best time tracking software for low-budget projects and how it can enhance the process beyond your expectations.




Low budget is one of the demons every project manager has to fight at least once. It is already challenging enough to ensure all the delivery requirements are met in a timely manner, given all the moving parts involved. It becomes even more complex when your efforts are limited by financial constraints. You are often left needing to make important decisions such as deducing what can be excluded from your primary strategy without affecting the flow and the results. To be successful at that you first need to have a clear understanding of what are the absolute necessities, and this can sometimes be a tricky task.

For example, you may be hesitant to spend the budget on digital tools and process automation when you believe they aren’t tasking enough to be carried out manually. Time tracking is one of them. And in this article, we’ll briefly overview why you shouldn’t skimp on it and how to find a flexible and valuable solution without going over your budget.

Do Not Exclude Time Tracking Software

As tempting as it may be, we strongly recommend not to skip time tracking software altogether. You may argue that there are ways to keep tabs on time spent executing the tasks that involve no cost. And you would be correct. Tracking time via Excel spreadsheets or even keeping the records on paper will indeed cost you nothing. Naturally, this sounds like the best solution given budget constraints, but is it really? There is a saying that a greedy man pays twice, and this is one of the scenarios it applies to.

To keep it short and sweet, a designated solution does more than track time. From invoice generation to automated calculation of differentiating rates, it handles multiple processes for you. In addition to that, it minimises the risk of human error that’s very likely to occur if you handle data insertion and invoicing manually. Depending on the nature of the mistake, they can end up costing you a lot more than a solution would have. Both financially and in a form of client trust.

Define Your Top Needs

Given how huge the software market is, it’s often difficult to determine the tool that’s worthy of your investment. And there’s barely anything more frustrating than spending the already tight budget on a solution that doesn’t meet all of your key requirements. To ease the process and minimise the risk, we highly recommend starting off by outlining what are your top priorities.

Spotting Automation Opportunities

As we’ve briefly mentioned in the beginning, time tracking software is often a platform housing plenty of automation possibilities across different processes. Simply put, a lot of business operations often include time as a variable, and therefore a tool that is recording expenditure of it will directly tie into such processes. However, different solutions bring to the table different functionality, and while one tool may be a godsend for your HR-related affairs, the other will be more relevant to the accounting side of things. In other words, before you start the search for a solution, you need to understand what areas of the project would benefit from it. 

If you’re at the stage of having more or less forecasted most of the expenses, you should have a good idea of what processes will be taking place as the project proceeds. And you most likely have a rough estimate of how much time will they each take. Pick the ones that will consume most of the team’s time yet that are vital. How can you reduce the amount of manual work and to what extent? Remember, every process can be automated, but you should always prioritise the ones that are not just the most time-consuming, but also the most important. 

Expanding Functionality to the Limit

The golden rule of picking the software that will offer the best value for the money is not restricting its functionality to a specific set of processes. Think outside the box and past the use of project management. Who are other people involved in the project, what role will they be playing? Get a good understanding of their individual roles and targets. We also recommend talking to them directly to gather a better understanding of the processes they follow to meet their goals. 

Armed with that knowledge, run the same automation-compatibility audit on their processes. You are likely to find that most of them can also benefit from a time tracking tool, even if partially. Essentially, for low-budget projects, you should prioritise choosing a time tracking software that can be used beyond project management. Such an approach will raise ROI, improve resource allocation and can ultimately lead to better results.

Minimise the Cost

Naturally, if your budget is low you are limited in your choices. Financial constraints, however, don’t mean you need to settle down for worse solutions. In fact, time tracking software is usually rather cost-effective and shouldn’t put a huge strain on the project budget. But given that every penny counts, there are several steps you can take to minimise the cost and still adopt a tool that will cover all of your needs. 

Compatibility with Existing Software

Before you start looking for a time-tracking solution, run a quick evaluation of the existing tech stack. Every company utilises a handful of digital tools, be they aimed at project management, accounting or other operations. The best way to cut costs and expand the functionality of each solution is by getting them all to work together. We advise making a list of tools you already have at your disposal and putting one of the key criteria for the time tracking app to be integrable with them. Lower-cost solutions often need supporting tools to enhance their functionality and therefore already having them in your possession is a huge plus.

Not only will this help you save money, but also smoothen the flow of the project. As opposed to switching between the tabs to pass data from one tool to another, you’ll have them work in tandem with another, exporting information with just a couple of clicks. This will save you time, deepen your insights and help you build smoother workflows. If the solution that’s otherwise perfect for you doesn’t offer integrations with your other tool, we always recommend getting in touch with the vendor. Depending on their policy, they might be open to building a custom API.

Build Your Own Package

Even without a limited budget, no one wants to spend money on things they have no use of. This can often come up as an issue when choosing software. Time tracking tools are designed to offer more functionality than simply recording the time, and, naturally, more features contribute to a higher price. Most of the SaaS solutions (Software-as-a-Service) only offer package-based pricing, often leaving you paying for features that are irrelevant and won’t be used.

Fortunately, some companies are aware of this issue and allow you to build your own service package. At Timesheet Portal, we cater to companies of different sizes and different needs. We want to help startups and small businesses grow and scale, as well as we strive to provide the best services to multi-level corporations. This is why instead of limiting everyone by pre-made pricing packages, we allow clients to build their own deck and only pay for the features they need. If they want to upgrade or downgrade moving forward, it is done with but a few quicks within the platform.

Naturally, when your employees are equipped with tools to be aware of each other’s performance, not only can they collaborate better but also hold each other accountable. This will make it easy to spot who’s underperforming in certain areas, becoming an opportunity for extra training. Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of employees can be your key to improving individual performances that will inevitably drive team results. It will also gather valuable insights for future project planning, taking us back to the previously discussed workforce allocation improvements.

Simplicity is Key

It might be tempting to get a solution that has the most functionality for the best price. However, the downfall of extensive features is that they can get very confusing. While you may be tech-savvy, it’s important to keep in mind other people on your team might not be. It will therefore hinder the project flow rather than improve it, and some workers may either misuse the solution or refuse to use it altogether. It’s, therefore, best to stick to your direct needs.

Don’t Overcomplicate the Process

One thing that often gets overshadowed by the excitement of improving the process is that while you aim to better its performance, you should also seek to simplify it. There’s certainly a lot of satisfaction in building a sophisticated operation that works as a well-oiled machine; but is it worth sacrificing the final results for it? Even if your genius process solution with multiple steps makes perfect sense to you, there’s a high probability at least one person involved in it finds it confusing. And that confusion will, sooner or later, jeopardise the said process. Again, another cost that, unless caught early, may go well past the project budget. 

To best accommodate a financially restricted project, opt for time tracking solutions that are simple to use. They may first come off as lacking in in-depth functionality, but the reality is you most likely want such features and do not actually need them. Often the basics will not just cover your requirements but go beyond the expectations. The simplicity of the process will also make it easier to align your teams, granting clear and smooth workflows with a reduced rate of errors. 


While low project budgets pose a lot of challenges, they don’t mean you must keep deducting the resources needed for successful delivery. For example, while you may think time tracking is an expense you can cut, in reality, you can always work it into your strategy, no matter how limited your budget is. And you should, because ultimately the benefits of the right solution will be far greater than the cost. All you need to do is tailor the right approach and adopt the right mindset when looking for one.

Begin with listing out your priorities, then expand your thought process across other members of your team. When you have your needs defined, take a look at the existing stack to figure out ways to cut costs. Finally, don’t overpay for solutions packed with irrelevant features - build your own package. We hope we were able to help you map up a plan on how to find the best time tracking software for low-budget projects.

Still got questions?  Ask away.

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Timesheet Portal online software provided by Anfold Software Ltd, a registered company in the UK.