How to Choose a Time Control System That is Right for You?
Choosing the right employee monitoring system is not a task to be taken lightly. Your options range from free to high-end systems, each with its pros and cons. It's important that you understand what these systems have to offer, how they fair against each other, how much do they align with your business practices, and most importantly, how much do they cost as the business scales.
Making the mistake of choosing the wrong system may lead to serious repercussions, including, but not limited to, high costs, low productivity and low ROI. In worst-case scenarios, legal issues may arise owing to non-compliance — amplifying the economic and reputational risk that comes with choosing the wrong system.
This begs the question - how do you pick the right control system for your business? In this article, we'll discuss the taxonomy of employee monitoring systems while providing a detailed breakdown of their capabilities and their applicability to your business.
To that end, here's a step-by-step guide for getting you started.
Assess Your Business Needs
Begin by taking a hard look at your business practices — the ways in which you work, the requirements that you have, and the ways in which you can scale. This will inform your decision on which employee monitoring system is best for you. For example, if there has been an uptick in the incidence of employee fraud and you wish to improve internal controls, you will likely be looking for a system that adds value in this area.
Set Criteria to Objectively Assess Each System
This is probably the most important step in choosing the right employee monitoring system for your company. Once you have assessed your business needs, you should be able to create a criterion that you can use to quantify the value of one system over another. It's important that you evaluate each system objectively, without any preconceived notions. In our experience, you should look at the system against three fundamental areas:
The functionality of a particular refers to the ease with which it can support the business in achieving its core objectives. In other words, it's the lowest common denominator of what a business can expect from an employee monitoring system. To that end, functionality encompasses the following attributes:
Scalability: A system is scalable if it is able to support growth without the need for expensive upgrades.
Ease of implementation: The less elaborate and involved the process of installation, setup and user training, the more you can expect to reduce your overall costs.
Integration capabilities: A system is integrated if it can easily integrate with other systems, ensuring that key business functions are not compromised.
Compatibility: The right system must be compatible with the latest Windows and Mac OS X versions. Mobile OS (Android and iOS) compatibility is an added advantage for those businesses that rely on accessing their systems while on the go or want to monitor social media, internet messaging, etc.
Usability: The interface of a system should be simple, intuitive and easy to navigate, enabling you to quickly make the right business decisions.
Analytics: The system should provide useful analytics, ideally in real-time, to help you understand your workforce better.
From webpage to application monitoring, social activity to AV (audio video) control and data backup, features include everything on the package. More profoundly, here are the features that you should look for in an employee monitoring system:
In the post-pandemic era, where hybrid work culture is a norm, it's important for employers to be able to monitor employees remotely via a secure web account. This is especially critical in the wake of increasing endpoint intrusions. A recent Ponemon Institute research outlined that about 68% of organisations had suffered from endpoint attacks compromising their data and infrastructure. Reviewing the activities of remote employees in real-time is, therefore, imperative.
Real-Time Data Collection
Instant access to real-time data ensures that you can make timely decisions, minimise the risks of business disruption and identify potential problems before they escalate. An example would be CleverControl Companion — a mobile app that lets businesses collect and review real-time info from employees' systems seamlessly.
Multifaceted Recording Functionality
Keylogging, screenshots, removable device monitoring, instant message monitoring, and GPS tracking are just a few examples of the multifaceted features that can be provided by an employee monitoring system. It's important to make sure that these features meet your needs since these are the things that ultimately help you keep tabs on your employees and improve internal controls.
Audio & Video Surveillance
The ability to remotely monitor video feeds can be a game changer for many businesses. Snapshots, mic sound recordings and webcam video recordings can yield a lot of information about employee behaviour, equipping employers with the knowledge to make better decisions. That being said, it's vital that you take into account the legal and privacy ramifications of your monitoring practices. Let's explore that in more detail in the next section.
Employee monitoring systems are increasingly evolving to incorporate time-tracking functionality. The ability to monitor employee productivity in real-time can help you track and measure employee performance, spot the areas of improvement and ultimately give you a leg up on the competition. Tracking employee time is, in particular, relevant to businesses seeking to enhance their operational efficiencies, eliminate fraud and streamline billing processes.
Consider the case for overtime claims; they can be avoided when employees are made aware of the need to account for their allocated time. In simple words, businesses can streamline their payroll processes by integrating time-tracking analytics. Not to forget the productivity enhancements that can be achieved when real-time monitoring is coupled with employee time tracking. From log-in to log-out and idle time detection, the system can equip employers with insight into workplace dynamics and substantially contribute to eliminating bottlenecks, addressing productivity issues and automating business processes.
It's important to understand your employee monitoring policy and the legal implications of your choices. The laws across different countries and regions differ, with some more stringent than others. In Europe, for example, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) lays out the rules for businesses that wish to collect and analyse their employees' personal data, making the seeking of consent and acknowledgement of monitoring policies mandatory. Likewise, in the United States, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 allows employers to monitor considering they have a legitimate reason for doing so.
To that end, keep these things in mind:
Assess your state's legal requirements.
Ensure that the control system you choose is legally compliant, i.e., the monitoring service provider is registered with the relevant regulatory authorities in your country.
Get written or emailed acknowledgement from employees on your policy and the fact that they have read and understood it (if required).
Have an effective response mechanism in case of employee grievances at the ready.
Seek legal counsel in case of doubts or ambiguity.
Select the Right Control System
Now that you've assessed your business needs and established your criteria, you should move to the next step: selecting the right employee monitoring system. For your convenience, we've listed the five most prominent control systems based on the testing that we've done on them.
a. Clever Control
A state-of-the-art employee productivity system, Clever Control specialises in activity and work-time tracking. Offering an array of features, including employee-facing webcam, voice and text recording, email and social media monitoring, it's a perfect fit for assembly line employers and facilities where employees need to be monitored in real-time. Besides, the installation process is straightforward, the dashboard is exceptionally easy-to-use, and the reporting capabilities are comprehensive. The solution can scale as per your business requirements and is available for a free trial .
The CleverControl Companion app, in particular, offers a host of flexible features and functionalities, making it the ideal choice for workplaces that want to monitor employees in real time. It's intuitive and interactive and can be customised according to your business requirements. What stands out is its ability to facilitate knowledge about users' real-time activities, active time, and idle time. The latter is particularly relevant to businesses seeking to streamline operational efficiency, eliminate workflow hindrances, and maximise productivity.
Insightful markets itself as a workforce analytics and productivity platform, and rightly so. The tool, akin to Clever Control, offers an array of features for employee monitoring, time tracking, and automatic time mapping. Insightful, as the name suggests, stands out when it comes to its reporting capabilities, for it provides insight into the granular details of the employee activities - using fields such as idle time, top-used apps, etc. However, it's a bit costlier.
Besides, Insightful helps enterprises to optimise their time pertaining to running projects. It does so by enabling employers to track time spent on every task, app, website, etc. Such granular insights, coupled with a project management Kanban board feature, allow employers to drive focus on the most important tasks, eliminate wastage of time, and increase overall productivity.
CurrentWare is a control system with an explicit emphasis on securing the systems from insider threats. Plus, the system enables you to monitor the activities of people in your network remotely — an excellent feature for employers with a lot of remote employees. The only downside is that different capability modules have to be brought separately. For instance, the three modules - BrowseReporter (Computer Monitoring), BrowseControl (Web Filtering), and AccessPatrol (USB Control & DLP) have to be purchased separately. On the flip side, though, this can be beneficial for businesses with very particular requirements.
ActivTrak is highly preferred owing to its real-time Activity Logging, which allows the system to monitor and record employee behaviour in real-time. But what stands out about the tool is its ability to drive actions instead of just collecting and visualising data. And this works to enhance the employer experience, not to mention the overall efficiency of the business, by reducing paperwork. ActivTrak's enterprise solutions are a bit expensive; however, it features a free version, so you don't have to pay a cent until you're satisfied with the system.
Akin to Insightful, ActivTrak features a comprehensive time-tracking function, allowing employers to review productivity variations across the day, week, and month. Notably, ActivTrak also allows employers to set flexible schedules for assessing the activities of organisational entities. These can be freelancers, contract workers, or other third-party service providers that the business employs.
Perhaps one of the most popular control systems on this list. Teramind specialises in endpoint security and data protection. One of the best features of this control system is user behaviour analytics, empowering employers to understand the behavioural patterns of their employees and react accordingly. Besides, it provides enough backing to the businesses to ensure effective policy and rules management, courtesy of out-of-the-box rule templates. On its viability, though, Teramind might not suit every small business need and caters better to much broader institutions.
Every business has unique needs, so it's important not to overpay for something you don't need. Hence, make sure you do thorough due diligence ahead of your purchase and look for a control system that can cater to your needs. Once you've decided on a product, look out for a demo before taking the final call.