Thursday, March 24, 2011

Biometric Time Clock Software - Part 3

I mentioned before how we've been pursuing biometric integration with our Virtual TimeClock software over the last 5 years. "What's the holdup?" you ask. Well, for starters we're unique in the time and attendance industry in that we provide employee time clock software for both Apple Mac and Microsoft Windows computers. You can network any combination of Macs and PCs together, we don't care. These networked time clocks will work together seamlessly. Because we're a dual platform time clock solution (possibly soon to be three platform...), we need to deploy functionality and features that work basically the same on both Macs and PCs.

Based on our research into biometric hardware, the fingerprint scanner seemed to have the most deployment flexibility. Retina scans may seem a little over the top as a buddy punching deterrent (but I'm sure they'd be extremely effective!). Biometric fingerprint scanners work on either touch or swipe technology. Swipe technology takes a little more practice to properly enroll the finger and then match the stored fingerprint template when clocking in and out. The touch sensors seem to be easier to use for doing both the initial fingerprint enrollment and subsequent matching. Here's how it works. Several unique features about your fingerprint are stored as a template based on an algorithm. It's entirely safe because they can't be extracted and used to reconstruct an image of your fingerprint later. This template is converted into a value that gets stored with your user ID in the time clock software database. Your fingerprint swipe is then used for both identification when punching in and out, and access to the different parts of the program. Think of it as a fancy password replacement.

Companies like SecuGen and DigitalPersona have had biometric fingerprint scanners available for the PC market for a numbers of years, but nothing for the Mac. Well, that changed a couple of years ago when a company called UPEK released their Eikon fingerprint scanner for the Mac. We were ecstatic and immediately contacted the company. It took several more years of going back and forth but they've finally released the development tools we need to integrate Virtual TimeClock with their fingerprint scanners on both Windows and Mac. This means biometric time clock software is one of our hot 'to do' items this year. I'll be sure to provide more details as they become available. We like what we've seen so far, an easy-to-use USB fingerprint scanner that's resonably priced and convenient to purchase from online retailers like

Jeff Morrow
Virtual TimeClock Product Specialist

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Free Time Clock Software Trials

Wouldn't it be great if we could take home our purchases and try them out before deciding if we want to keep them? That's exactly what many employee time clock software vendors are providing with their free time clock software trials. It's kind of like a dating relationship. You get to find out if you're compatible, what character traits you like and which ones are likely to drive you crazy, and are there any red flags that would prevent a long-term relationship. This provides an environment to test the relationship before moving forward with a large commitment of resources, both time and money.

Learn more time clock software review strategies by reading our new online article called Free Time Clock Software Trials - 4 Reasons to Try Before You Buy.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Biometric Time Clock Software - Part 2

As I mentioned in the last post, businesses are looking for biometric employee time clock software integration to primarily solve two issues. The first issue is related to security, what we in the time and attendance industry refer to as "buddy punching". Buddy punching occurs when an employee leaves early and has his colleague punch him out at his scheduled end time. Or he's going to be late so he has his fellow worker clock him in when he's supposed to start. Both amount to time theft from the employer and are serious offenses. Now requiring a unique password to punch in and out can certainly help the situation, especially if the assigned worker passwords are something as private as social security numbers. However, you're still going to come across employees that don't care who knows information about them that's supposed to be private and secure if they can leave early and still get paid for a full day of work. The bottom line is, those who want to cheat the system will usually figure out a way, even if it's using silly Putty or Play-Doh to hack the fingerprint scanner. Do you know of any real biometric scanner hacks that have been successful? Drop me a comment and let me know.

The second issue is related to efficiency. Sometimes this is just a matter of trying to force too many objects through a funnel at the same time, it's going to be slow or get clogged. The same is true when you're trying to force too many employees to use the same employee time clock software station at the same time. You're going to create a logjam that's inefficient and frustrates employees, which may feed the buddy punching issue we've already discussed. A biometric time clock software solution may help relieve the problem, but there's still a practical limit to how many employees can access a particular time clock station at any given time. You may be better off going to network computer time clock software which will give employees various places to punch in and out from. Or better yet, use personal time clocks on all the employee computer workstations.

Although biometric time clock software appears at first glance to completely solve the issues of security and efficiency, it's still best to consider all of your time and attendance needs before committing to a single solution.

Jeff Morrow
Virtual TimeClock Product Specialist

Friday, March 4, 2011

Biometric Time Clock Software - Part 1

Biometric integration is one of our top requested features, and I talk to a lot of business owners and managers about their time and attendance needs. It seems that businesses are looking for biometric employee time clock software integration for two main reasons: security and efficiency.

The most popular reason is to prevent buddy punching. With a mechanical punch clock, I can leave at 4:00 and tell my buddy to punch me out at 5:00. Even with time clock programs that are password protected, I can just give my buddy my password and still head out early. The only way to completely remedy a situation like this is to either take a photo snapshot at every punch in and out and then compare the images to worker punch times, or require biometric authentication. If I want to buddy punch, I have to either disguise my colleague to look like myself or cut off a finger! Both seem a little too drastic just to cheat the company out of a couple hours work.

The second reason is to streamline the punch in and out process. Employers don't want workers having to fiddle around with the mouse and keyboard, select their name from a list, and enter a password. Rather, they want a worker to walk up to the time clock and swipe a finger that will both recognize who they are and punch them in all from that one finger swipe. This is usually an attempt to eliminate lines forming at the time clock station during times of heavy use.

Did I miss any other significant reasons for moving to a biometric based time and attendance system? Please drop me a comment and let me know.

We've been chasing biometric integration with our Virtual TimeClock software for the last 5 years, cultivating relationships and testing technologies. We made a breakthrough last month with a vendor who can now provide biometric fingerprint scanner support on both Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac.

Jeff Morrow
Virtual TimeClock Product Specialist