aNewDomain.net — In today’s highly dynamic market, businesses must stay on top of their costs in order to remain competitive, and for most organizations the biggest expense is labor. Ensuring that your employees (and contractors) are providing the value you expect is critical, especially with the sharp rise in non-traditional work environments such as telecommuting.
Negative Application Usage
There are many solutions available for tracking application usage. The simplest of these products merely log the user’s actions (sometimes including employee keystrokes). More sophisticated solutions, such as Yaware, have advanced features which allow managers to categorize activities as productive (i.e., sanctioned applications or websites) or non-productive. Yaware also allows employees to enter non-computer time into the system (for tracking meetings). Managers can group employees into departments and produce reports by employee and time period.
This type of monitoring is best suited for “time-clock” employees, such as technical support or customer services representatives. While other, job-specific, applications produce reports such as call metrics, these monitoring tools ensure that the employees are not distracted by non-business applications while on the clock.
The biggest (technical) disadvantage to these solutions is the use of non-company access to the Internet, especially smartphones. In addition, installing (and maintaining) screen and keystroke monitoring software on computers for telecommuters can be a technical challenge.
Positive application usage
Even if you don’t need to track employees’ use of non-business applications, you may want to verify that hourly employees are actually working when they are on the clock. While the employee (or contractor) is working on billable tasks, the time-tracking software will take random screenshots of the desktop. This model is used by contractor service sites such as oDesk and Elance.
You can also get this functionality in products such as Tahometer. In addition to verifying employees are working, Tahometer gives managers detailed reports on time worked by period and/or project. It also allows employees the ability to enter offline time.
For businesses that need sophisticated productivity management without the application monitoring, consider a full-featured productivity tool such as Replicon. It offers a complete suite of time and task tracking capabilities to help businesses manage their billable and non-billable time.
In addition to reporting on employee time like the previous tools, Replicon includes approval paths for timesheets, separate billing and costing rates for employees, and utilization tracking by user or department.
The biggest obstacle to implementing this level of productivity monitoring is a process challenge, rather than a technical one. Getting users to consistently enter and manage their timesheets, especially salaried professionals, may require some organizational change leadership.
Nestersoft also offers productivity tracking.
Whether you need detailed insight into your employees’ computer usage, or are ready to start detailed productivity analysis, options abound. Match the level of monitoring to your company’s needs and culture, and be sure to comply with any applicable laws for employee surveillance and disclosure.
Carey Head is based in Charlotte, NC and senior editor and IT Pro columnist for aNewDomain.net. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.