Time Tracking

Top 8 Tools for Developer Time Tracking in 2024

March 21, 2024
IN THIS BLOG

What is the most valuable resource for software developers?

You guessed it right; it's time (read developer hours)!

And how would a developer like to measure it?

You are right again, not in the way it is measured through any time tracker!

So, what's the problem with most of the time trackers that makes them counterproductive for developers?

That's a hat trick! Yes, it is intrusive time tracking.

Let’s be clear that developers are artists, and like all other artists, they want to know how they spend their time and identify their creativity patterns. It helps them utilize their full potential.

But artists don't want to be micromanaged. It is simply countercreative

This is where developer time tracking tools come in. Dedicated time tracking tools for developers are built in line with the essential requirements of the job, along with an ethical policy that neither complicates nor oversimplifies the task.

Stay with us to learn what to look for when selecting the right fit for your dev needs and the best practices for utilizing these tools for maximum productivity.

TL;DR:

  • Time is the most critical asset for developers, and selecting the right time tracking tool is crucial for productivity.
  • Key factors in choosing a tool include ease of use, integration capabilities, reporting features, and cost-effectiveness.
  • Time tracking can empower developers for self-improvement IF it is non-invasive and focused on outcomes rather than micromanagement through the number of hours worked.
  • Consistent improvement is possible through analyzing time tracking data and addressing recurring roadblocks.
  • Among the top 8 picks reviewed in this blog, timegram is the only solution offering non-invasive automatic time tracking with the best value for money!

The Right Tool Makes All the Difference: Why Choosing the Perfect Time Tracker Matters for Developers

As we said earlier, for developers, time is a precious commodity. Every minute spent wrestling with a clunky time tracking tool is a minute stolen from coding. That's why selecting the right software is crucial, as it significantly impacts productivity, efficiency, and the quality of work. 

So how do you choose the best time tracker for developers?

When selecting tools for developer time tracking, several factors need to be considered, including ease of use, integration capabilities, reporting features, and cost-effectiveness. Let's delve into these criteria to understand their importance in deciding the efficacy of various time trackers.

Effortless Efficiency: Ease of Use is King!

If a developer constantly battles their time tracker's interface, frustration is bound to build up, and focus is lost. On the contrary, a user-friendly tool becomes a powerful virtual assistant: time is logged seamlessly without interrupting workflow. After all, developers need tools that streamline their workflow rather than impede it.

Intuitive interfaces and a minimal learning curve are essential for developers to quickly grasp how to leverage the tool effectively. Complex or cumbersome functionality can lead to frustration and wasted time, while ease of use translates to improved adoption rates and a happier team!

Building Bridges: Integration is Key

Software developers juggle with multiple tools that need to work seamlessly together- code editors, project management platforms, and communication channels. Choosing a time tracker that integrates flawlessly with these existing tools creates a unified development ecosystem. Smooth integration ensures data flows seamlessly, eliminates the need for manual data transfer between different systems, and reduces errors.

Knowledge is Power: In-depth Reporting

Developer time tracking goes beyond just logging hours. An ideal time tracker comes with comprehensive reporting features that allow individuals and teams to glean valuable insights by tracking metrics such as performance and project milestones. 

Detailed reports enable development teams to identify areas for improvement, allocate resources effectively, and show progress to stakeholders. The power of analytics helps identify time-consuming tasks, analyze project efficiency, and track individual and team productivity. This data becomes the mainstay for informed decision-making, allowing developers to optimize their productivity and focus on what matters most: coding!

Cost-Effectiveness Matters: Get the Value for Money

Whether you are an individual or an organization, budgets are a primary concern when selecting from the variety of tools available for developers. While investing in high-quality tools can yield substantial returns in productivity and output quality, it's essential to strike a balance between functionality and cost. 

The ideal solution delivers the necessary features at a price that fits your team's needs. It should offer a free plan or a reasonably priced option with features compatible with development workflow. Opting for cost-effective solutions ensures that resources are allocated efficiently and the tools provide value commensurate with investment.

8 Popular Time Tracking Tools for Developers

Let’s have a detailed review of the top 8 time tracking tools, focusing on their unique features and suitability to the requirements of software developers and engineers.

1. timegram

timegram is a comprehensive, smart time tracking software for developers that combines automatic time tracking, project management, invoicing, and deep analytics in one integrated platform. It prioritizes privacy, offers efficient workflow management, and provides essential features tailored to the needs of web development agencies and freelancers.

Automatic time capture enables billable task tracking and project and time budgeting. It also offers alerts/notifications and activity tracking with an intuitive interface. timegram is most suitable for small and large businesses and can be integrated with various project management tools.

Even though timegram is much more than a basic time tracker, its features are not overwhelmingly complex. If you wish to own your time and be in charge but are also concerned about invasive time tracking and micromanagement, timegram is built for you!

Key features

Automatic time tracking and Highlights

timegram offers automatic time tracking, eliminating the need for manual entries and ensuring accurate time capture. However, it provides flexibility in tracking time for various tasks, so you can also make manual time entries with an approval flow. 

Its star feature is Highlights, which inventively groups the time spent on all desktop and online applications into highlights, giving developers the autonomy to select and log only productive work done for specific tasks while keeping everything else private.

Project and task management

timegram includes project and task management features, allowing users to organize, assign, and track their projects effectively. It allows developers to log their work into tasks, showing exactly how much time and activity went into completing each task.

User roles and custom teams

The software enables creating user roles and custom teams, providing a personalized experience for different team members.

Billable and non-billable hours tracking

Users can track both billable and non-billable hours, set internal cost rates, and accurately bill clients based on tracked hours.

Automatic project-based invoicing

timegram facilitates the automatic creation of project-based invoices, streamlining the invoicing process and thus tackling a critical task for developers. 

Project Estimations

It provides accurate estimations of project costs, timelines, and budgets, allowing developers to reevaluate these metrics and take corrective actions before it is too late. 

Deep analytics

The software offers deep analytics capabilities, including timesheets, team progress tracking, revenue analysis, cost comparison, and individual and team ROIs. 

Software integrations

With seamless Zapier integration, users can connect timegram with over 6000 apps, enhancing its functionality and compatibility with other tools.

Advantages

  • Easy to set up with an intuitive, super user-friendly interface
  • Fully automated yet provides the option to enter time manually
  • Follows a strictly non-invasive, privacy-first policy focusing on developer satisfaction
  • A cost-effective solution where you get value for money spent

Potential Drawback

  • No screenshots or keystroke monitoring. But hey, isn’t that an advantage?
  • Lacks collaboration features 
  • Fewer native integrations available

Pricing

timegram offers a Free Forever plan for freelancers, including all the features. Pro plan for unlimited users is priced at $8/user/month.

2. ClickUp

ClickUp is a project management and time tracking software that helps developers manage their time against tasks. It offers features like task management, time tracking, and reporting. ClickUp also provides integrations with other tools. However, while it offers project management and customization options, some users may find its extensive feature set overwhelming, leading to a steep learning curve.

Key Features

Task Management

ClickUp provides a task management system with features like task assignments, due dates, priorities, and subtasks for enhanced project organization.

Integration Capabilities

The software offers seamless integration with various tools like Slack, Google Drive, and GitHub, allowing for a more connected workflow and improved productivity.

Customizable workflows

Developers can customize workflows according to their needs, providing flexibility in task management and project tracking.

Collaboration features

ClickUp facilitates collaboration among team members through features like comments, mentions, and file sharing within tasks.

Advantages

  • Provides integrations with various tools
  • Collaboration features promote teamwork

Potential Drawbacks

  • Some users have reported occasional performance issues, such as slow loading time or lagging.
  • Setting up ClickUp can be complex and time-consuming due to extensive customization.

Pricing

ClickUp offers a free plan for individuals with limited features. Pricing starts at $7/user/month, and the Business plan costs $12/user/month.

3. Harvest

Harvest is a cloud-based software that keeps things simple with its user-friendly interface and core focus on time tracking, project management, and invoicing. It's suitable for freelancers and small developer teams who value ease of use. It can be integrated with other project management tools. 

It is available on multiple devices, such as desktop widgets, mobile devices, Macs, and PCs. One downside can be its pricing, with different plans offering varying features and limitations, which may only be suitable for some users and businesses. Some features are available only at high-end pricing. Also, the mobile application needs to be optimized for use on the go.

Key Features

Expense Tracking

Users can easily track and manage project-related expenses within the platform, ensuring comprehensive project cost monitoring.

Invoicing

The software offers invoicing capabilities, enabling users to create and send invoices quickly for billable hours and expenses.

Project Management

Harvest includes project management features that help users organize tasks, assign responsibilities, set priorities, and track project progress effectively.

Advantages
  • It comes with a user-friendly interface
  • Integrates with over 50 tools
  • Billing clients accurately is a breeze
Potential Drawbacks
  • Reporting capability may be limited compared to other time tracking tools
  • Pricing is on the higher end
  • Limited customization options

Pricing

Harvest comes with a limited free plan. Pricing starts at $10.80/user/month.

4. Time Doctor

Time Doctor is a time tracking and productivity monitoring software that helps developers track their time and improve their productivity. It offers features like time tracking, productivity monitoring, and project management. Time Doctor is suitable for both small and large businesses and can be integrated with various project management tools.

Key Features

Automated and Manual Time Tracking

Time Doctor offers both automated and manual time tracking features, allowing users to monitor their work hours accurately.

Task Management

Users can segment tasks, set project goals, and receive reminders to stay focused and efficiently manage their workload within the platform.

Website Usage Monitoring and Mobile Tracking GPS

The software enables website and application usage monitoring to keep track of all activity. It also offers mobile time tracking with GPS capabilities to track employee time from anywhere they work.

Automated Screenshot and Webcam Capture

The platform includes automated screenshot capture and webcam features for enhanced monitoring and accountability.

Advantages

  • API integration for organizations using custom applications
  • Daily and weekly detailed reports
  • Client access allows clients to monitor progress

Potential Drawbacks

  • Keystroke logging, screenshot capture, and internet usage tracking features might render it a micromanagement tool for many users.
  • Some users find the user interface clunky.

Pricing

The Basic plan costs $5.9/user/month, the Standard plan $8.4/user/month, and the Premium plan $16.7/user/month.

5. ClickTime

ClickTime goes beyond basic time tracking, offering project management, expense tracking, attendance monitoring, and payroll integration. It's a multifaceted solution for larger organizations and those with complex time management needs.

ClickTime is a time tracking and project management software that helps developers track their time and manage their projects with features like time tracking, project management, and reporting. ClickTime is suitable for both small and large businesses and can be integrated with various project management tools.

Key Features

Reporting Capability

ClickTime offers reporting features that aid project management, resource allocation, and decision-making.

Expense Tracking

Users can easily track and manage project-related expenses within the platform, enabling project cost monitoring.

Invoicing

The software provides online invoicing capabilities, allowing users to create and send invoices quickly for billable hours and expenses.

Project Management

ClickTime includes project management features that help users organize tasks, assign responsibilities, set priorities, and track project progress.

Advantages

  • Provides a dedicated customer service
  • Offers a 30-day free trial for upgrades

Potential Drawbacks

  • User interface may appear outdated, leading to a learning curve
  • Can be complex to navigate and fully utilize
  • Can be expensive for smaller organizations
  • Mobile app may not be as feature-rich as the desktop version

Pricing

ClickTime offers Starter, Team, and Premium plans priced at $12, $15, and $27/user/month, respectively.

6. Clockify

Clockify is a free time tracking software that helps developers track their time and manage their projects. It offers features like time tracking, project management, and reporting. Clockify is suitable for both small and large businesses and can be integrated with various project management tools.

Key Features

Time Tracking

Clockify offers a user-friendly time tracking tool that allows users to track work hours, tasks, and projects efficiently.

Expense Management

Users can track project expenses, simplifying the invoicing process and providing transparency to clients regarding work progress.

Project Management

Clockify is an effective tool for managing teams, tracking attendance for payroll and accounting purposes, and evenly allocating workloads among team members.

Reporting

The software provides detailed analysis of time usage through customizable dashboards, reports, activity monitoring, and project management features.

Advantages

  • Affordable and cost-effective
  • Offers flexibility and customization options

Potential Drawbacks

  • Windows app responsiveness may be lacking compared to the web version
  • The mobile app is prone to glitches
  • Real-time data syncing feature may slow down the app's performance
  • Reporting capability may limited

Pricing

Clockify offers the Basic plan at $4.99/user/month with limited features, Standard at $6.99/user/month, Pro at 9.99/user/month, and Enterprise at 14.99/user/month.

7. Apploye

Apploye's is an affordable time tracking and employee monitoring tool that helps developers track their time and manage their projects. It offers features like time tracking, project management, and reporting to gain insights into productivity, identify potential distractions, and ensure efficient workflow. Apploye is suitable for both small and large businesses and can be integrated with various project management tools.

Key Features

Timesheets and Hours Tracking

Apploye provides a time tracking system with features like a timer, Pomodoro time tracker, notes, time off, billable hours, idle time, and project and task time tracking.

Project and Task Management with Budgeting

Users can create unlimited projects and tasks and track project progress, cost, and team performance within the platform.

Reports & Attendance

Apploye offers detailed reports for analysis, allowing users to export reports in PDF or CSV format. It also includes features for employee clock-in clock-out time, geofenced attendance, and employee GPS location tracking.

Employee Activity Tracking

The software provides tools like screenshots, app and website tracking, GPS time clock, and activity monitoring.

Advantages

  • Best for businesses seeking robust employee tracking 

Potential Drawbacks

  • Learning curve can be steep due to its complex functionalities
  • Can be invasive and enable micromanagement
  • Some users have reported glitches in the mobile version of Apploye

Pricing

Apploye offers its Standard plan at $5/user/month, and Elite plan at $7/user/month.

8. Buddy Punch                        

Buddy Punch is a simple time tracking solution that is workable for small businesses and development teams. Its mobile app and employee self-service portal provide easy access and convenience. It is a user-friendly time tracking app that offers project-specific time tracking and integrations with popular project management systems. 

Key Features

Overtime Calculating

Buddy Punch includes features for calculating overtime, ensuring accurate tracking of hours worked beyond regular hours.

GPS Tracking

The software offers GPS tracking capabilities, allowing employers to monitor employee locations when clocking in and out.

PTO Accrual

Users can track Paid Time Off (PTO) accrual within the platform, simplifying leave management and tracking for employees.

Time Card Approval

Buddy Punch provides a time card approval feature that allows managers to review and approve employee time cards, enhancing accuracy and accountability in time tracking.

Job Costing

The software supports job-costing functionalities, enabling businesses to allocate costs to specific projects or tasks.

Advantages

  • Comes with a user friendly interface
  • Provides reliable customer support

Potential Drawbacks

  • Users have reported glitches in the mobile app
  • May lead to invasive monitoring due to features like GPS tracking

Pricing

Buddy Punch pricing starts at $4.99/user/month plus a $19 monthly base fee. Pro and Premium plans cost $5.99 and $7.99/user/month plus base fee.

(Reviews are based on user feedback from G2, Catperra, and Software Advice)

Best Practices in Developer Time Tracking: Optimizing Workflow and Well-being

Time tracking can be a powerful tool for developers to achieve much more than keeping track of hours worked. When implemented with the best practices, it becomes more than just a data collection technique. 

It can be a strategic asset that empowers developers to work smarter, not harder, and provides a more fulfilling work experience.

If you have selected one of our top 8 picks, here are some dos and don'ts for establishing best practices that will help you leverage time tracking data to ensure developer productivity and well-being. 

Goal Setting: Be Realistic

There is a direct relationship between goal setting and time tracking. The latter provides a treasure of information on individual and team performance. By analyzing this historical data, developers can set realistic goals for project timelines. They can estimate the time required for specific tasks, preventing underestimation that leads to missed deadlines

Similarly, personal productivity goals can be established based on past performance and peak productivity patterns, provided you are not creating time quotas based on false equivalence!

Avoiding Common Pitfalls: Remember What NOT to Do!

How most companies implement time tracking is counterproductive for developers and engineers, as it undermines creativity and leads to resentment and inefficiency. 

Here are some key observations that show exactly where it goes wrong:

  • Valuable time can be wasted on manually entering timesheet data. It is a common pitfall of most businesses: burdening developers with an extra task of meticulously recording their time, which ironically detracts from their productivity.

  • Solutions like timegram aim to streamline this process through automated time tracking, integrating seamlessly with existing workflow tools to minimize manual data entry.
  • Mixing time tracking with effort estimation creates unrealistic expectations. When managers equate story points with hours worked, it only exacerbates the problem. Developers should be trusted to manage their time autonomously rather than being micromanaged or penalized for perceived inefficiencies.
  • Micromanaging developers through time tracking data cannot be a substitute for building trust and morale. The aversion most developers show toward time tracking stems from its misuse within many companies in the form of screenshot-based monitoring.

All in all, instead of using it as a tool of surveillance and control, businesses must focus on how this data can empower individuals for self improvement. Good managers trust their developers and use time data for improvement, not punishment!

Balancing Productivity and Well-being: It’s Not About Number of Hours 

While time tracking helps engineers and developers identify bottlenecks and optimize workflows, it shouldn't come at the expense of individual well-being. Here's how to strike the right balance:

A goal-oriented management that considers individual strengths and weaknesses while setting targets and assessing progress goes a long way in sustaining a healthy environment for development.

Consistent Improvement: A Journey, Not a Destination!

Regularly analyzing time tracking data allows developers to identify areas for improvement. Recurring roadblocks can be tackled by implementing new workflows or exploring different tools.  Furthermore, personal performance insights can guide developers in pursuing new skills or seeking mentorship, fostering a culture of continuous growth.

If you are doing it right, time tracking becomes not just a means of tracking progress but a catalyst for ongoing improvement on the journey toward excellence.

The Takeaway

Having reviewed the top 8 software development time trackers based on ease of use, integrations, reporting capabilities, and cost-effectiveness, you should be able to choose the best tool based on your specific needs. 

Among the available solutions in the market, timegram is the only non-invasive solution that enables you to unlock a world of developer time tracking that is a win-win for both developers and their managers. With the right tool, developers can focus on their passion - creating brilliant software - while the time tracker seamlessly handles the rest.

Learn more about our key features here, and take the first step toward streamlining your agency workflow with timegram today, for free!

FAQs

How can I track my work hours for free?

The free options available to track your work hours can be:

Excel spreadsheet

This basic option allows you to create a table with columns for date, start time, end time, and total hours. It's easy to set up but can be cumbersome to maintain, especially for complex projects.

Free time tracking apps

Many time tracking apps like timegram offer features like manual/automated timers, project management, and reporting with a free plan for individuals. We have discussed eight such apps in this blog. You can scroll up for detailed reviews. 

Read our blog on 4 time tracking methods to boost productivity for more information.

What is the best software for project hours tracking?

There's no single "best" software for project hours tracking, as the ideal choice depends on your workplace policies and specific business needs. In this blog, we have discussed the criteria for developer time tracking. Again, scroll up to see the details.

You can find the project hours tracking software that best suits your workflow and budget by comparing the available options, like timegram and ClickUp, etc., in terms of their functionalities and cost effectiveness.

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Sidra Ali Shah

About the author

Sidra is a research scholar and a philosophy nerd who fell in love with language at a very young age. She believes it's words and their combinations that make the world go round. In her free time, she likes to brainstorm with her children.

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