Time Doctor review

Time Doctor is one of the programs that combine time tracking with basic  employee monitoring. Screenshots are taken at random intervals, then all of this is uploaded online for managers to review. Below is a detailed Time Doctor review, there are a lot of text and images, so if you are in a rush, just skip to the Summary. TimeDoctor

Pricing & Features

Time Doctor pricing is simple – $10/user/month – it is quite expensive comparing to competitors (like Screenshot Monitor) . The list of features is standard for this class: time tracking, screenshot monitoring. Time Doctors also records what applications are active.

Desktop Application

Once you create an account, you are presented with a choice to start tracking for yourself or invite employees to track their time. The application is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. TimeDoctor 003 After download and installation of a huge 23MB file (really? Does it have to be that big? ScreenshotMonitor by contrast is 0.5MB), you log in to the program and this is the screen you get:
TimeDoctor 005
It is a big heavy on gradients and graphics, but relatively straightforward. You type the task and optionally select a project you are working on, click Go and it starts time tracking (and optionally screenshot monitoring). Or click on one of the tasks in the list to make that tasks current and work on it. The checkbox next to the task marks it as done. On the bottom right it shows you the time spent on each task.

It gets a bit confusing when you try to edit the existing task – things have a mind of their own and do not always act as expected. I had a need to have a “Support” task for several projects (“Support – Project 1″ and “Support – Project 2″), but every time I have tried to create the second task (Support – Project 2) the program has also changed the project for the original task (to Project 2). So I have found no way to have the same task for the different projects. Other than that the desktop application is simple and probably is the strongest part of Time Doctor.

Time Doctor web interface

The screenshots and tracking data is being uploaded to the web for managers to see. When you first log in, you are presented with this screen: TimeDoctor 004
It seems It seems TimeDoctor deems these setting to be the most important. Curiously, by default the screenshots are off. It seems TimeDoctor tries to be time tracking service first and employee monitoring the second. I would say it is a poor choice. There are far better applications for time tracking and only screenshot monitoring makes TimeDoctor relatively competitive. The other setting – when to automatically stop tracking is quite important, agree.

Your main web page is the Dashboard:TimeDoctor 006 I seriously dislike it. It shows your employees, a green/yellow/red dot next to a name to indicate if a person is currently working (I like it) and not that useful graph on when were they working today, but not much else. I want to see what the employees were working on today, how much time and money they have spend on a particular task, project and client. And at this point I have no idea how to get to it. (Later I’ve realized that the only way to get to some of it is by running reports – bummer). If you use  Screenshot Monitor, on a dashboard you would immediately see time (and money spent) not only today, but yesterday, this week, this month for each employee. On ScreenshotMonitor you also see the latest screenshot right there and you are one click away from all screenshots (with details of time spent on each task/project) as well as employee’s profile. In Time Doctor, however, there’s a whole bunch of steps to get to screenshots, profile or time breakdown from the Dashboard. Why don’t they use hyperlinks here is beyond me. So OK, let’s go through the menu to the Screenshots page, here we can see screenshots for one person on a particular day or for a range of days:TimeDoctor 007 Thumbnails are too small to be useful. There’s mouse & keyboard activity that should not be a criteria of productivity, but probably useful for some types of work.

If you click on a thumb, it gives you a bigger version that is still quite useless because it is still too small: TimeDoctor 008

Click on the image one more time and you get a slightly bigger version that is still too small to be useful!!! This is very frustrating. Why can’t they utilize the whole active area of a window is just baffling. TimeDoctor 009

Time Doctor has no “Clients” category. This is another disappointment. In real world projects may belong to one or another client. And it is often useful to see time/money spent on each client. Talking about money – Time Doctor does not have this category either. Let’s say you have a consultant that costs you $100/hr and a data entry person working for $5/hr. What use it is for you to know that your team has spent 8 hours on a project today? It may have cost you from $40 to $800 – but you have no idea because TimeDoctor does not allow you to assign the hourly rate to a person.

TimeDoctor reports

Let’s look at the Time Doctor reports. This is the timesheet report – I wish it had breakdown by project and tasks, but it has bare bones only and generally looks like designed in 1980. Why have it at all? Reports

Daily report gives me breakdown by task, but not a project. Why!?? The only reason is that they can fit only one flat table per report. Imaging Google trying to put every element from Google Analytics dashboard into separate pages – it would be impossible to understand the whole picture!Daily Report

Timeline report is actually interesting and looks like it was created years after the previous two. Still no summary of time spent on task/project, but at least gives you details for a day. This should seriously be integrated with screenshots on one page like it is done in Screenshot Monitor. But after first 2 reports lowered the expectations, this seems like a relief. TimeDoctor 012

All tasks report tries to summarize time by task (but not by project – who knows why). It seems to be the same as daily report, just nicer and with an option to run for a date range. Why create two reports for the same purpose? They have probably created first years ago and when the second was ready, decided to keep the first one. Very frustrating part: daily report does not subtract time for deleted screenshots, and “all tasks” report does subtract this time – go figure. TimeDoctor 013 You can get to summary by project in the Projects report, but I have exhausted my will to pick up bits and pieces of information in different report.

Free plan

After you are done with 30-days trial, when you go to the web, Time Doctor does not let you use it and asks you for money: TimeDoctor 014 Without web access TimeDoctor makes no sense, so if you want  a free plan – go with Screenshot Monitor that has a free plan for 2 employees.

Review Summary

Pros: The strong part of Time Doctor is that it holds your hand every step of the way and explains your options clearly when you start using the program. In addition to Windows, it supports Mac & Linux  and has an iPhone app. The desktop application is a bit heavy on size and design, but relatively well thought out and simple to use.

Cons: Price. It is twice as expensive as competitors (like Screenshot Monitor) and its free version is useless without the web interface. The web interface is confusing, overly complicated and just looks outdated. Reporting is split in bits and pieces and never gives you the complete picture. Screenshot viewer is almost useless. No “Client” category exists – you can not assign projects to clients, nor can you see time and money for a client. No “Money” category – you know the hours, but not how much money was spent on each task/project. When a screenshot is taken, no notification is given to employee.

ConclusionTimeDoctor is a product that shows its age with an outdated web interface and significant usability issues. User never gets a complete understanding of time spent without picking up bits and pieces from the reports. It is not competitive in pure time-tracking environment and is not the best choice in time-tracking + screenshot monitoring area. For a usable free version or to save 50% and have a more pleasant experience – go with Screenshot Monitor. If you do not care about screenshots and need pure time tracking on multiple platforms – go with Toggl. But if you have to have Mac or Linux support and screenshot monitoring, TimeDoctor may have the job done.

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