How Does Electronic Tracking Work?
Learn the fundamentals of employee tracking, the different systems available, and the advantages of each one.
The Basics of Electronic Staff Tracking
Employee tracking systems are comprised of three main elements, a recorder, checkpoints and a central computer system. The exact nature of each of these components and how they interact varies between different systems, but they fundamentally operate in the same way.
Checkpoints are strategically placed around a site or route where the location of staff needs to be known. Each checkpoint has a unique identifying number, which is matched to the location of the checkpoint within an application on the central computer system.
The staff member carries a recording device that interacts with the checkpoints, recording the time of the interaction and the unique identifying number of the checkpoint. Depending on the system, this information is either sent to the central computer via mobile cellular network or stored on the recording device to be later downloaded manually.
3. Central Computer
The application on the central computer system collects and stores all the data from the recorders. This information can then be viewed, retrieved, analysed and turned into reports which can be sent to interested parties such as clients.
Variations in the Design of Employee Tracking Systems
Over the years numerous similar technologies have been used in electronic staff tracking, including QR Codes, Barcodes, and GPS. Each of these have their advantages and disadvantages, with systems that rely on iButtons, RFID, NFC and Bluetooth, being more accurate, and resilient than the others.
Some of these checkpoints require the employee to touch or swipe the checkpoint with the recorder for confirmation of the completion of a task, while others register the employee’s presence without such interaction, freeing the employee’s hands for other tasks.
Smartphone based systems take the recording of time and location a step further by allowing the use of electronic forms and task lists within the field, along with the collection of ancillary information such as photos and signatures.
Systems that rely on the cellular network to transfer data to the central computer system, allow the manager to view employees’ progress in real time. This can be an advantage in certain situations as it gives managers more control and flexibility over the working environment and helps managers to respond to urgent issues.
A quality staff tracking application also come with a suite of analytical tools and reports which can be used to show trends in workplace activities over a period of time, giving management the ability to make more effective decisions. These reports can then be passed onto the clients as proof of service.