Review: Virtual TimeClock '12 Network continues to punch in on time
Two years ago, I reviewed Redcort Software’s Virtual TimeClock and I’m happy to report that the latest version remains substantially unchanged and is still an excellent cross platform solution for tracking employees’ work time. Redcort Software also resolved issues associated with new user creation, and it now offers a number of new login options that make it easier to maintain employee privacy and limit access to information about which users are logged in and what projects other employees are working on.
Virtual TimeClock comes in three versions: Basic, Pro, and Network. The way each of these versions works is essentially the same, with the major difference being the available features and the number of users you’re allowed to have in the Basic version. I used Virtual TimeClock Network and Pro Editions for this review, but most of what is covered here is also true of Virtual TimeClock Basic.
At $99, Virtual TimeClock Basic is limited to one time clock and three users. The Pro Edition at $195 allows for an unlimited number of users, but you can only install it on a single computer. The Network Edition has a number of pricing options ranging from $295 for the server application and $50 for each additional user to $1995 for a site license. If you have several offices, there are also options available that will centralize your time clock server while allowing your users to sign in and out at their locations. If you want to give the program a test run, you can download a working demo of any version you’d like to try.
Virtual TimeClock is very easy to set up, requiring little more than a company name and a location for your time clock database. The server version of Virtual TimeClock runs as a system daemon. So once it’s installed, the time clock database is available on the network even if no one is logged in to the Mac where the application is running. I had the server up and running and the client installed on two Macs and a Windows computer in less than 10 minutes.
Once the application is installed, you’ll need to add users to the database for them to log in. Users are added either by entering them individually using Virtual TimeClock’s administration tool or you can import your users from either a QuickBooks IIF file or a CSV file.
New user creation, which was such a hassle, is now very easy. One of the issues I had with earlier versions of Virtual TimeClock was the way the program required you to constantly save user information as you moved between fields when creating new users. Redcort has now simplified the process, keeping all user data in a single screen rather than split between multiple tabs.
Importing data was seamless. I created a CSV file formatted as Virtual TimeClock expected it and used the program’s import tool to add my users without a single import issue, although I did encounter one potential issue with imported data. Virtual TimeClock requires that every user defined in the system have a unique password/PIN. I found that it was possible to import password/PIN data that was identical for all users without the import tool reporting any errors. The end result is that only the first user with that passcode could log in.
Virtual TimeClock offers several new login options designed to both simplify the login process in large organizations and to limit the information displayed on the time clock. The default login screen displays a list of all users and shows whether or not they are logged in. The new passcode and PIN option allow your users to enter their pin or passcode without a user ID to log in.
The most important part of the time clock software is taking the information you collect and using it to pay your employees and bill your customers. Virtual TimeClock offers a number of export options that can be imported directly into your accounting or payroll package, including AccountEdge, Paychex, and QuickBooks for Windows. Virtual TimeClock also offers reporting tools for everything from late arrival reports to forms that you can have your employees sign to confirm the number of hours they’ve worked for a pay period.
There are two features I’d like to see support for in Virtual TimeClock: Support for Biometric logins using a fingerprint or palm scanner, and a setting that would enforce more sophisticated passwords/PINs. Redcort states that the former is a pretty standard feature request and that they have plans to implement biometric scans, but they are limited by the fact that all current biometric scanners require a Windows computer to work with the scanning software. All of the Virtual TimeClock products work with Windows computers, but Redcort states that they are unwilling to ship a PC-only feature. The latter is not on Redcort’s radar, but given that passcodes are what’s being used to verify user logins, more security in this area is required.
Simple setup, excellent export options, and centralized management make Virtual TimeClock a time clock solution without parallel. Whether you’re using Macs, PCs, or both, Virtual TimeClock makes it easy for your employees to punch in on time so they can get down to business and you can get them paid.