So, what makes one employee tracking system worth $6 and another one almost twice as much? And what does ‘per employee per month’ even mean?
Let’s start from the last question.
There are different ways and dynamics of paying for your chosen employee monitoring solution. We’ll cover three of the most common ones here - subscription-based payment, one-time payments and freemium versions.
This is by far the most common scheme among monitoring software. What this means is that you have a fee which you pay for each of the employees that you want to monitor. For example, if this fee is $6 and you have 50 employees, you’ll have to pay $300 each month for using that employee tracking system.
What you’re basically paying for are the agents. An agent is a computer program that you install on an employee’s computer so that it can track their activity and send the reports to your dashboard.
So far, we’ve always mentioned paying on a monthly basis. That’s because this is the most popular payment frequency. However, it’s not the only one. Some tracking providers charge you on a yearly basis. And in fact, many of those that offer monthly subscriptions also give you the option to pay the annual price, which is in most cases lower than the monthly one, but it does require a bit more long-term commitment.
The main advantage of the per-person scheme is the fact that the cost depends on and scales with your team. This means that a team of 10 people will pay a much lower price than a corporation that wishes to track 2,000 computers.
Computer monitoring systems that offer a flat one-time payments are comparatively rare. They also charge you per licence (or per corporate computer you want to track), but they only require you to make a single payment before you implement the software and then you can use it for however long you wish.
This method of purchasing can be an extremely good way to get a highly functional software for low price if you plan to commit to it for a longer period. On the flip side, if you decide that you’re not happy with the software after two months, you can’t just discontinue your subscription because the payment has already been made. Another problem with this pricing scheme is that the updates for your version are often cut off after a year, sometimes alongside customer support too.
Finally, one more thing worth noting when talking about different pricing systems is the fact that some monitoring solutions offer free versions, which are, in most cases, accompanied by the option to upgrade to a paid plan for more features, better support, etc.
Even though it sounds like an amazingly affordable option, the main problem with free software is that it’s mostly limited in at least one respect. More often than not, this limitation is reflected in the number of employees the free version can support, which is usually less than 5. In addition, you’re probably given fewer features to use and maybe even restricted access to priority support, which we’re going to talk about a little bit later.
All in all, a free employee tracking system might be a good option for freelancers or extremely small teams who only need basic functionalities, but in other cases, it might be a smarter investment to get a fully functional paid software.
Additional Notes About Pricing
There are a couple more things we need to mention when we talk about pricing. First, many monitoring systems offer a couple of different price tiers, starting with the basic one, which is the cheapest but also the most limited in terms of functionality, and ending with the professional tier, which typically includes every single feature of that software. On the other hand, there are systems that offer just one fixed price, which means that you automatically get everything, so there’s no need to weigh out the price against the functionalities.
And secondly, you should be aware that the great majority of monitoring software offer a free trial period, which lasts for at least a week, but could be up to a month long. Try to use this trial wisely in order to see whether it’s a good fit for your company before you decide to buy it.
Factors Determining the Price
Whether we’re talking about the difference between two different monitoring companies or between two different price tiers within a single one, there are a number of factors that determine how much you’re going to pay for an employee tracking system. We’ll mention the four most important ones.
There are two options is terms of deployment and data storage - cloud and on-premise (self-hosted). Some monitoring software companies offer only one or the other, but others give you a choice of whether you want a cloud or an on-premise solution. Typically, the self-hosted option is more expensive, because there’s the extra cost of implementing the employee tracking system on your own servers.
As we’ve hinted at before, a system or a version that has more functionalities is typically more costly. Now, this by no means implies that a more affordable option is always worse. In fact, the decision should be based on your needs - if the monitoring software has everything you need, its low price simply means that you’ve found the optimal value for money.
Sometimes, very cheap or free solutions will only offer customer support through online forms or chatbots. This isn’t optimal if you need speedy customer support through a human connection. For this reason, it might be worth the price to get the additional support channels such as phone, priority email or even a dedicated agent.
Number of Employees
This point should be no surprise by now, since we’ve already talked about different price schemes. In any case, whether you opt for a one-time payment or an ongoing subscription, the price you’re going to pay will be different if you have 10 and if you have 1,000 employees because you’re paying for individual instances of the software.
Another useful thing you should know, though, is that it’s not uncommon for employee monitoring companies to offer special discounts for enterprises, which might be something worth pursuing if you have a large number of employees.
What Employee Tracking Software Gives Back
Taking into consideration how much tracking software costs is important but you shouldn’t forget to figure in the amount of money you can save if you use it. In some cases, this might be even more that what you pay for the software. Let’s look at some ways in which this can happen (for an extended discussion on the usefulness of employee monitoring, you can check out this article).
Since employee tracking software can be used to directly measure and quantify productivity and time on different tasks and in various apps, it’s clear that using it is a clear path to optimized workload and improved efficiency.
So, you can expect your employees to be able to finish more tasks in less time, which would in turn lead to more projects being taken on and therefore more profit. Also, being able to complete all the tasks on time means that there will be less need for hiring additional staff.
Attendance and Client Reports
Another potential money-saving opportunity comes from automating some processes, like compiling attendance sheets. Employee monitoring system does this automatically based on computer activity, which means less time for creating timesheets. Considering its accuracy and reliability, using this software can even eliminate the need for other attendance tracking methods, such as keycards or biometric readers, which can get quite expensive.
Another similar benefit is creating client reports. Ensuring accountability can be an ungratifying process, and having a computer monitoring solution, especially if it has some time tracking functionalities like project tracking, can be a huge help in making this task easier, while also producing better results.
Time Theft and Data Breach
Finally, employee monitoring software can also be helpful in preventing huge costs incurred by time theft and data breach. We’ve mentioned this system’s ability to track attendance. Since it does this by looking at computer activity, there’s no room for buddy punching, dishonest time reporting and other types of time theft. You know exactly how much each employee has worked and how much you should pay them.
Because of its screenshot and app/website detection features, computer monitoring software can also play a role in preventing or at least discouraging data breaches. When you know that, according to the latest reports, the average cost of data breach can reach as much as $3.9 million, the monitoring software becomes an even more valuable business tool.
As we’ve seen, there are a lot of things that influence the price of computer monitoring software, from the number of employees on your team to whether it’s a cloud or an on-premise solution. Of course, you should always keep in mind that it’s not always about the price. First and foremost, you should aim to accomplish your business goals with this software, and only after that think about what the best value for money is in your case in particular. Once you choose the system that aligns with your needs, you’ll soon realize that it’s just a matter of time and using its benefits right before it pays off.