Screenshot Monitor Review: Timesheets are easy but ineffective
Timesheets are easy but ineffective when it comes to employee monitoring. Today, I’m going to explore an online monitoring program, called Screenshot Monitor, that can help keep track of the progress employees make on work and also be a tool for employees who are responsible for their own reporting. Below you’ll find my Screenshot Monitor Review.
Screenshot Monitor is an employee and freelance tracking system. The software is a transparent tracking system which requires employee participation for use. That is, the employee is responsible for starting and stopping the program in order to track their time and tasks. The company stresses its software is not a spying tool, as the employee is responsible for starting and stopping the monitoring.
In addition to the time and task tracking capabilities, Screenshot Monitor also captures periodic screenshots of the employees activities. Screenshot allows for tracking without an internet connection. Data will be updated automatically once connection is restored to the internet. All data is stored on ScreenshotMonitor.com.
Screenshot Monitor includes an online manager dashboard that is viewable from an internet capable device. The online dashboard allows you to view employees’ time, tasks, and screenshots. Dashboard managers have the ability to associate an hourly dollar amount to employees to evaluate the employee return on investment.
The software also comes with a reporting feature. Reports can be generated to analyze specific employees, and date ranges, and more. The reporting feature also allows data to be grouped by date or detailed time-sheets. Reports can be download into Excel for further analysis or to generate invoices.
I signed up for the 30-day free trial, which granted me access to the Professional Level. After the signup, I was presented with the option to download the program or invite employees. Since I wanted to see the full effect of the program, I chose to invite employees, which gave me the option to invite myself and other employees.
The dashboard allowed me to enter an employee email and set a dollar rate. I immediately noticed the program had an autosave feature after each entry.
Employee signup. After receiving an invitation, each employee using the system must sign up with their own account and credentials. This allows employees to be track individually. The employee must then download the application. The program is very simplistic (see image to the right). It consists of a simply screen that allows one to start and stop tracking, an area for comments, and a pull-down menu to select a project.
The program provides notices whenever screenshots are taken. The employee has access to delete the screenshots, which gives an added sense of control. Employees can view their progress by clicking the “view online” button.
The employee menus has 3 options: My Home, which gives an overview of the time and money earned based upon the rates the manager set; Timeline, which includes the day-by-day and hour-by-hour, as well as the screenshots; and Reports, which includes a handful of filters and the option to share and download.
I question the issues of it not being a employee spying tool. Even though employees control the amount of tracking, I believe it would be easy to coerce an employee into using the tool by attaching their hours worked to their pay.
Manager Dashboard. Whereas the employee dashboard includes 3 menu items, the manager includes 6. The first menu item is My Home, which is very similar to the employees’ menu, except it includes tracking for all employees. The next menu item is the Timeline, which allows for the individual selection of an employee. Once an individual is selected, it has the exact same features as in the employee option. Likewise, the Reports menu is the same as the employee, but allows the additional option to filter by employee.
The Projects menu is the first additional feature the manager has that employees don’t. Like the other menu items, this section is very simple. It allows the ability to add a project, archive, and restore the project. When a project is archived, employees are no longer able to track time it. One feature I would like here is the ability to assign projects to employees.
The next is the Team menu, which gives the ability to add, archive and restore employees. Like the Projects menu, once an employee is archived, the employee is no longer able to track time or tasks. One of the features I like about the Team menu is the option to add rates. When used properly, this can be an excellent tool for invoicing billable services. Clicking on an employee name sends you to their specific Timeline link.
The last menu item is the Settings, which is the most extensive part of the dashboard. In the settings, the manager is able to set the number of screenshots per hour. It provides the option to pause the tracking tool after a specified time. There is also an option that allows the employees to add offline time. This can come in handy when the employee is working away from a computer. As I mentioned earlier, the employees are also notified of screenshots. However, it can be disabled in the settings. One feature I really like in the settings is the ability to track activity levels, which shows how active an employee was during a particular screenshot by percentage levels. Another item, which is interesting, is the ability to limit the number of hours tracked. So, if an employee reaches a certain number of hours, the program disables the tracking feature. More of a personal issue, but I really don’t like that feature, as I see it as a way to short employees of pay. I’m one who believes one of a company’s most valuable resource is the employees, so treat them well. All that I mentioned in this paragraph allow the settings to be adjust for both the entire team or specific individuals.
The Settings menu offers a couple of other features that are company based and apply to all employees. The first is refers to if the day of the week is set for Sunday or Monday. The next identifies the currency symbol.
My Overall Thoughts
Keep in mind, this is my first experience with time tracking software, so I really don’t have a comparison point. Though the software is overly simple, it does do what it says it will do. I think of some software that is full of bells and whistles and find myself being overwhelmed. With this program I doubt most people would have that problem. However, if you need more bells and whistles, such as project management tools, this may not be the right software for your time tracking needs.
When I think of my own office environment, we have a couple of systems for tracking our time, none of them very efficient. The main time tracking system we have is adding notes in our documentation system. People are forgetful and inaccurate. We’d still have to document in our system. However, having the clock tracking would at least take some of the guessing out of the game. The second, which we use for hourly students are timesheets. Our admin is constantly complaining about the students not getting their timesheets in on time or filling them out incorrectly with the wrong project codes. I can see this as an excellent way to reduce the problems associated with our two current tracking methods.
One of the great features about this program is it tracks in real-time. Even when I added a project, it only took a couple of seconds for it to show on my desktop application. Though screenshots can be turned off, the screenshots are a nice way to measure productivity. Though I don’t suggest folks turn into micromanagers, as I imagine most managers have better things to do with their time than monitor how their employees spend every minute.
Though I can see the tracking feature being used by managers in a way that they may end up with employees dissatisfied with their work environment, I can see this as an excellent tool for employees. Throughout my demo of this product, I thought about wonderful it would be to have this in my job, where I do need to track my hours on projects, not only for reporting but also for billing. As it is, I do a haphazard job and at times even forget to document some of my time. I’ll be using this program at work the next few weeks. I’m hesitate to recommend it to my supervisor because of the potential to micromanage. However, I can see it simplifying my tracking and helping our fiscal grant manager when it comes to reporting.
I have mixed feelings about the reports. One one level, it shows pretty much all the information collected other than the activity level presented in the screenshots. On the other hand, the reports are just so simple. I also noticed a place for a Ref# in the download but couldn’t find where that was placed within the actual program. It also seems that if you track without choosing a project, it’s assigned as
Ease of Use
This program is so simple, it’s difficult to say it’s anything but easy to use. With that said, I just has a few items that I found confusing. The first was in regards to tracking an item under the wrong project or no project. It makes reporting difficult. Next, it wasn’t immediately apparent that I had to locate the downloadable software after inviting myself (the manager). When I invited myself as a user, I received no email invitation to the program. After I invited a different email address, I realized the process was different when inviting the creator (manager) of an account and an employee. After the download and install, the program didn’t open immediately. I had to track it down in my applications to use it.
Customer Service & Support
Though a phone number is listed, the office does not provide 24 hour support. Other forms of support are offered through their contact page or mailing them directly. I submitted my question in the early hours of the night/morning on Sunday via their contact page. I received a response less than 12 hours later that Monday, which happened to be MLKJ day (a federal holiday). Not instantaneous, like phone support, but not bad either.
Initial signup includes a 30-day free trial at the Professional level without a credit card.
|Activity Level Tracking||No||Yes||Yes|
|Screenshots/Hr||Up to 3||Up to 6||Up to 30|
|Switch to free plan at any time|
Web-Hosting or Locally Installed
Requires download, but information is stored at the host site, ScreenshotMonitor.com.
Hardware Software Requirements
52.3 MB of space. No other requirements were specified.
No Credit Card Required
For those looking for an alternative to Screenshot Monitor, Amazon has a large selection to choose from.