Traditionally, staff tracking required the use of purpose-built hardware and software, but increasingly many developers are pushing the idea that a staff tracking app can be used on any mobile phone.

Those who support using mobile phones will tell you that doing so is cheaper and easier, but they often do this just to push their own mobile app forward in the marketplace. Of course, people who sell dedicated hardware say that purpose-built hardware is the better solution.

With all the information going around it can be difficult for managers to know which is the best solution for their business. UniGuard offers both options to the consumer in an integrated system, so we have no incentive to push one solution ahead of the other. This allows for an unbiased opinion on the situation.

Mobile Apps, the Ideal Solution or Is It All Smoke and Mirrors?

On the surface a staff tracking system using mobile apps installed on your workforces’ own phones seems the perfect solution, or at least the simplest and cheapest. This is particularly attractive for businesses who have never used staff tracking before and are looking for an entry level solution. The other positive is that people are more likely to look after their own phone than company equipment.

There are a few unforeseen problems with this approach. Firstly, your workforce needs to have a compatible phone. Older phones and even some newer phones will not work with many tracking applications. Most staff management apps also focus on either Android or iPhone because it is cheaper, easier and faster to develop and maintain software on one platform only.

Even if the staff tracking app is successfully downloaded and working, it may clash with other apps on the phone. This may mean that the tracking app will not work properly, or your workforce will be frustrated with the staff tracking app stopping other apps on their phone from working. This may encourage them to uninstall the tracking app, which may cost you from the loss of attendance data or other reasons. Personnel may also be concerned about their privacy.

Other issues include members making excuses to not use the phone, such as they lost the phone or forgot to charge it. Even when they are willing to use the tracking app, some staff members may use it as an excuse to look at their phones during their shift for non-work reasons.

A lot of these problems can be solved by choosing a well-made staff management software system with good after-market support, and consulting properly with you team about the importance of using the app, explaining the benefits to them and alleviating their concerns about privacy.

How About Using the Staff Tracking App on a Company Phone?

Another potential way of minimising many of the problems associated with staff tracking apps is for the business to supply the phones. This will guarantee that the phone is compatible and that there are no other apps that will clash with the tracking app.

Team members will have less excuses too, as it takes away concerns about privacy, and if the phones are kept at the company premises it ensures they are available and charged at the start of a shift.

Unfortunately, the workforce will have less incentive to care for the phones. Some disgruntled team members may even actively remove the covers and cases, damage or even lose the phones, as this will allow them to avoid working. That said, more durable, and expensive, rugged phones are available.

Is Dedicated Hardware Really the Ugly Duckling?

A bespoke staff management system built around dedicated hardware is initially more expensive to install and not considered fashionable by some people, but it has many advantages over simple phone apps. For businesses who already use one of these systems, it is generally cheaper and easier to keep building on the system in place, than install something new.

One of the biggest advantages is that recorders have been purpose built with the situations that they will be used in mind. This means that the devices are stronger and more durable without software compatibility problems. The functionality of the devices are also limited to the purpose for which they are built, meaning less distraction for team members who may otherwise play with a phone.

Although cost is seen as a disadvantage, the price of the recorders is still comparable to many phones on the market. In the long run, the bespoke staff tracking system may actually be more cost effective as the recorders are more resistant to damage and last longer.

Bespoke staff management systems are also seen as more complicated to set up, but recorders from reputable sellers are supplied with the software preinstalled at no extra cost to the consumer.  Support is also provided. A good staff tracking system is also guaranteed by the manufacturer, who will service and repair the product.

So Ultimately, Which Is the Best?

The truth is that no solution is 100% perfect because for any one system to work in a particular way compromises have to be made in other ways. However, having some knowledge of the difference in staff management systems on the market will help you make the best decision for your business, and help you minimise any problems you may potentially face when using whatever system you chose.

Want to find out more about the most flexible staff tracking system, click here to see a demo of UniGuard in action.