Thursday, July 22, 2010

Understanding the Payroll Process

There are several different systems involved with processing employee payroll, and each one serves a critical function. You've got the employee time tracking system which gathers employee hours. You've got the payroll system which generates the checks. And you've got the business accounting system for recording the payroll entries in your general ledger.

It's easy to get confused about the role of these payroll processing systems and how they're interrelated. Hopefully, this brief description will clear up any confusion.

Time Clock Software
Your employee time tracking system may consist of time cards and a punch clock, hand written paper timesheets, or time clock software. Employee time clock software takes much of the effort out of time and attendance tracking by providing accurate and impartial recording of all time worked, which keeps employees accountable for actual time on the clock. It saves you countless hours by automatically applying overtime rules and performing all of the time card calculations for you. Think of employee time clock software as providing the first step in payroll processing by instantly gathering and totaling all hours worked during the payroll period. Employee hours can then be reported to your payroll provider, manually entered into a payroll system, or exported to a file for easy import into your online payroll service.

Payroll Software
The next step in processing payroll is to generate employee checks. Your payroll solution will make all the necessary calculations for gross pay based on the hours provided by your time clock software, as well as all of the deductions for federal and state income tax withholding, FICA, and any voluntary deductions for insurance premiums or retirement plans. You may print employee paychecks in-house with your own payroll software, fax or phone in employee hours to your payroll service or accountant, or submit employee hours using an online payroll service that pays employees through direct deposit. Your payroll service may also file all state and federal quarterly and annual payroll taxes on your behalf.

Accounting Software
The final step in payroll processing is to get the payroll entries into your general ledger. This can be accomplished by either manual entry of the data based on the payroll reports received from your provider, or automatic posting of the payroll entries by exporting the payroll data from your online payroll service into your accounting software.

Each system is interrelated but has a distinct role and function within the payroll process, but there could be some overlap. For example, your accounting software may also be able to generate employee paychecks through an add-on payroll module or service. I hope this helps explain the progression from time clock to pay check.

Jeff Morrow
Time Clock Software Support Specialist

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What's the Best Time Clock Software for My Business?

There are lots of options available when it comes to choosing a time and attendance system, but not all of them are created equal. When reviewing time clock software, make sure you consider what features the program has to offer, what reports are available within the program, and how user friendly it is. We've scaled our time clock software to meet just about every business size and need, so the summary below should make it easy for you to compare employee time clock software.

Virtual TimeClock Basic
The Basic Edition is perfect if you need an inexpensive time clock for a few employees. Virtual TimeClock Basic Edition can be setup as a stand alone time clock to provide access for up to 3 employees.

Bottom Line: Install the Basic Edition when you need a simplified feature set and limited employee access from a single computer.

Virtual TimeClock Pro
The Pro Edition allows you to easily track paid an unpaid activities, manage accrued and used leave, and print sophisticated employee time cards for unlimited employees from a single computer. Virtual TimeClock Pro Edition can be setup as a stand alone time clock to provide company wide access for all workers.

Bottom Line: Install the Pro Edition when you need advanced Pro level features and unlimited employee access from a single computer.

Virtual TimeClock Network Edition
The Network Edition makes it easy to centrally manage employee hours and overtime with networked computer time clocks, even at multiple locations. Virtual TimeClock Network Edition is composed of two separate software downloads. The Virtual TimeClock Server is designed to run securely as a background process. The Virtual TimeClock Pro Client connects to the TimeClock Server over the network and lets the TimeClock Server handle all of the database processing and file management.

Bottom Line: Install the Network Edition when you need advanced Pro level features and unlimited employee access from multiple computers.

Maggie Hofer
Time Clock Software Customer Service

Adding Paid Holidays to Employee Time Cards

Coming off the recent Independence Day celebration seems like an appropriate time to discuss how to add paid holidays to your employee time cards. As you may already know, your Virtual TimeClock software can keep track of accrual and use of all paid and unpaid time off. So the process we're describing for holidays can be easily applied to vacation, sick days, and personal time off.

If you haven't already done so, you'll need to add the total paid holiday hours for each employee as an annual leave award. From the Lists menu, choose Users. Each user has unique leave settings so different benefit awards can be given for each type of leave. Select the Holiday leave category and assign an annual award for the number of hours of paid holiday leave. So, for example, if your company observes all of the federal holidays, you'll add an annual award for 80 hours (10 days x 8 hours).

Once the holiday benefits have been awarded, it's time to enter the holidays into your time and attendance software. From the Actions menu, choose Add Leave Entry. Select the employees that get paid for the holiday and then select Holiday from the Leave drop-down list. Select the date of the holiday and maybe add a note so the name of the holiday shows on employee time cards. Click the Save button and you're all done. You can enter paid holidays as they occur, or you can enter all of the holidays at the beginning of the year and they won't appear on worker time cards until the payroll period in which the occur.

Jeff Morrow
Time Clock Software Support Specialist

Friday, July 9, 2010

Getting Started with Employee Leave Tracking

It's fairly common for new time clock software users to get their new time and attendance system all setup and functioning at a basic level and then come back several weeks or even months later and start deploying some of the 'bells and whistles'. Tracking vacation and sick time is one of those 'bells' that typically gets setup later.

Things to Think About
There are a couple of decisions that need to be made prior to setting up accrued and used leave tracking in Virtual TimeClock. The first is to decide what leave categories you'll be using. Your new time and attendance software already includes holiday, personal, sick leave, and vacation, but you can add as many new leave categories as you want.

The second decision is how you'll accrue paid time off. Leave benefits can be setup as either an annual award or a calculated award based on hours worked. An annual award is basically a lump sum that gets deposited into the user's leave account at the beginning of the benefit year. With a calculated award, employees have to actually work hours before any leave hours accrue and are available to be used. We've got complete instructions for setting up employee leave tracking with Virtual TimeClock.

Leave Balance Forwards
The tricky part of getting started tracking employee leave benefits with your new computer time clock is what to do when you've already been tracking leave accrual and paid time off with some other system. There are a couple of options for bringing over those leave balances from your other time tracking system depending on how you're accruing leave benefits.

If you're accruing leave benefits based on an annual award, then you can just enter the current employee balances as carryover into Virtual TimeClock and not worry about total accrual amounts until the next benefit year. If you're already accruing benefits based on a calculated award, then you can still enter current employee balances as carryover into Virtual TimeClock, but then you'll need to either adjust the calculation rate based on the time remaining in the current benefit year, or set the employee's award anniversary to the date you want to start using your new time clock software to accrue paid leave. Either way, you'll need to review the leave settings for each employee at the end of the benefit year.

Jeff Morrow
Time Clock Software Support Specialist

Free Time Clock Software Upgrades

All new Virtual TimeClock licenses come with 30 days of priority technical support and free upgrades built right in. But if you want the freedom to be able to talk to a technical support specialist whenever you need to and have free access to the latest and best version of Virtual TimeClock, then you'll want to enroll in our time clock software Maintenance & Support program.

Program Benefits
  • All software upgrades (typically 2-3 annually)
  • Unlimited priority technical support
  • Personalized training on program features and new functionality
  • Request new features for upcoming releases
  • Information filled monthly Tips & Tricks newsletter
  • Maintenance releases for compatibility with new OS and security updates
  • Data file evaluation and repair following hardware or system failures

If you choose not to enroll, we'll still keep in touch with announcements of new releases and upgrade offers, and we're still here when you need us for time clock software support on a fee for service basis. Our time clock software support program is the best way to ensure the long term, economical, and uninterrupted operation of your time and attendance software.

Maggie Hofer
Time Clock Software Customer Service

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Reviewing Your Time Clock Software Preferences

There are many advantages that employee time clock software has over mechanical punch clocks. One of those advantages is the ability to create a unique user experience for each employee, or group of employees that uses the time clock. This is accomplished through program preferences. It's a good idea to review your time clock software program preferences so you can match your office workflow with the exact look and feel you want.

You can access your time clock program preferences from the Virtual TimeClock menu on Apple Macintosh OS X computers and from the Edit menu on Microsoft Windows computers. The time clock program preferences control how the worker information in your main time clock window is displayed, what menu items and toolbar buttons are available, and what sounds your time clock software makes. For your convenience, Virtual TimeClock will remember your custom settings between each program run.

Display Columns
We often get asked about hiding worker information on computer time clock stations that are available for company wide access. Many times, business owners don't want employees to know the status of other employees, or the times that they're coming and going. In that case, you can just remove the Date, Status, and Time columns in the TimeClock panel of Preferences.

Toolbar Buttons
By removing certain toolbar buttons that you don't use, you can create an easy to use time clock that just allows workers to clock in and out. You can even adjust the size of the main time clock window to create a time clock program that can run unobtrusively in the corner of your computer monitor. Toolbar buttons can be removed in the User Access panel of Preferences.

So go ahead and experiment with creating custom time clock program displays. And since the program preferences are local settings, each computer time clock in your organization can have a unique time clock display to enhance the user experience and adapt to your workflow needs.

Jeff Morrow
Time Clock Software Support Specialist