16 min read
Mar 22, 2016
Workforce Management

The Best Kronos Alternatives for Your Small Business

What are the best Kronos alternatives for your company when it comes to scheduling, time clock, and absence management? 

Suzie BlaszkiewiczAnalyst

As a veteran in the workforce management industry, Kronos first launched in 1977 as a time clock manufacturer, long before the days of software for employee management. Fast-forward to the present day, and Kronos offers an entire suite of on-premise and cloud workforce management solutions with features for time and attendance, scheduling, absence management, HR and payroll, hiring, and labor analytics. More than just a workforce management solution, however, Kronos markets itself as a way to control labor costs, minimize risk compliance, and improve workforce productivity.

While Kronos has advanced since the days of time clocks and offers different modules for each of the functions listed above, using an on-premise system might not be ideal for your company if you don't have the time or budget for implementation. Below are some of the best Kronos alternatives based on which considerations are most important for your business.

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Kronos makes finding pricing information for both its on premise and cloud solutions very difficult. Instead of offering standard pricing, the company has tailored packages based on which modules you'll be using. It's difficult to find out the exact cost of Kronos, but different modules means that you'll be paying more for every additional feature that you need.

Alternative: When I Work Scheduling

Despite its name, Kronos competitor When I Work Scheduling offers more than just scheduling features. With time clock and attendance, payroll, and reporting, users have commented on its affordable pricing given its feature set. The app is free for up to 5 employees and can cost as little as $0.25 per month per employee.

Says GetApp reviewer Fatima Hayek, human resources director at Hayat Pharmacy, "We started using Excel for scheduling initially but as our business grew, so did our need to change our procedures to accommodate requests and convenience for employee team members. So, we trialed (sic) many apps and found When I Work such an excellent app and a great price!"

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Business Size

Kronos is made for enterprise, but it has a cloud-based offering for small and midsized businesses called Kronos Workforce Ready, which has features for timekeeping, scheduling, leave management, HR, and payroll, all in one interface. If you're a small business, however, you may only need one or these functionalities, and having features that you don't need could prove cumbersome and unnecessary.

Alternative: ShiftPlanning

Many small business owners have praised Kronos competitor ShiftPlanning, a scheduling and workforce management app, for its implementation and use in small businesses specifically. Says GetApp reviewer Eric Blomberg, production assistant at Wilson Dow Group, "ShiftPlanning has completely changed the way we do business. As a Logistics Coordinator for a small business that operates in many different locations over any given day, ShiftPlanning allows all of our employees to [stay] up to date when any schedule changes and gives them exact directions to any remote work sites. Complete game changer for a small business…"

With a subscription pricing model starting at $25 a month, it's also affordable for the small business set.

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Because it's meant as a full service suite of modules, Kronos is light on native integrations, stressing that the software works best with other Kronos products. It does, however, offer its Workforce Integration Manager and additional integration tools so that you can integrate other third party apps with the system. Its small business Kronos Workforce Ready solution integrates with big names including NetSuite, Sage One, Workday, and iCIMS applicant tracking. The company also announced earlier this year that they're working on an integration plan to integrate Google Apps for Work with the software.

Alternative: FinancialForce HCM

The leading Kronos competitor for robust integrations is FinancialForce HCM (Human Capital Management), which already offers integration with Google Apps for Work, as well as Salesforce Sales and Service Cloud, Zoho Reports, and of course, the entire suite of FinancialForce products including Billing, ERP, and Accounting. As one reviewer notes, "if you are a Salesforce user this is an excellent integrated solution. Sales and finance share the same information. With FinancialForce we look at the business financially the same way we look at it operationally."

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Mobile App

Kronos offers both an iOS and Android app for users, although each app's ratings in their respective app store are quite low. Kronos for iOS gets 2 out of 5 stars, while its Android offering gets 2.5 stars, with a lot of people complaining about connectivity issues and a laggy system.

Says one Android reviewer, "[I] can never connect to [the] server, and when it does, it has random shifts each time you log in. It logs you out within a minute being logged in, you have [to] relog in and it takes forever to use the back button for previous page."

Alternative: When I Work Scheduling

Once again, When I Work Scheduling comes out as a good Kronos competitor, this time for its interface and usability with both its iOS and Android users, scoring a 5 star rating in the App Store and a 3.7 in Google Play. Says one iOS reviewer, "I have been working in restaurants for over ten years as a general manager… This is by far the easiest system I have seen to communicate with and schedule my staff. Working with mostly a younger crowd, it helps a lot that everything can be done on a cell phone!"

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User Reviews

Kronos gets mixed reviews from users. While many praise its ease of use and reporting functions, the biggest complaint all-around is an out-of-date interface. Says one reviewer, "I've worked with the Kronos application for 14 years (to date), and I have not yet experienced any drawbacks that could not be solved with interface or configuration chanes (sic)."

Alternative: ShiftPlanning

ShiftPlanning takes the cake again, this time when it comes to having the most positive user reviews. With 28 reviews and an average rating of 4.5, ShiftPlanning is praised for its ease of use, as well as the positive effect it's had on business processes and operations. Says Andrew Rosenblum, event specialist at Towson University, "This software has helped my operation 100%. I went from calling each employee to see if they can work, to having it fully automated. Their customer service is excellent. They keep coming out with new features that enhance the software. All my employees love using it and they say it is the most user friendly site they ever used…"

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Kronos is an enterprise leader when it comes to workforce management, but that limits its use for smaller businesses, with price and implementation being the biggest barriers to entry. Its separate cloud solution, Kronos Workforce Ready, is better suited for small and midsized businesses, although again, it could be too robust for small businesses that don't require every feature that's offered in the all-in-one suite.

Alternative: Planday

With pricing starting as low as $2 per month per user, Planday has a "Planday for all" approach that makes it affordable and accessible to different industries. Aside from its standard offering, it offers various versions specific for restaurants and bars, retail and grocery, and fitness and leisure businesses. Even reviewers with different sized organizations have noted its usefulness.

Reviewer Eunice Nielsen, vice president at CityCallCenter ApS says, "Payday use to be a full day adventure, trying to keep track of 30 employees in an Excel sheet, calculating their supplements according to the time of work and subtracting any personnel goods. After switching to Planday payday now takes roughly an hour… I still can't believe it's that easy, but it is."

Similarly, another reviewer with a bigger operation finds it just as useful. "We use Planday at my work. We have about 100 volunteers taking shifts almost any time of the day and week. So with planday we can easy (sic) see who is at work when," says GetApp reviewer Cindy Frederiksen.

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User Training

Kronos offers many training options, including e-Learning and instructor-led training, which is especially useful if you're increasingly adding services and need to learn how they function. As one reviewer notes, however, training can be a slow process: "some of the initial on-line training is a little slow. Because you take it with others you must go as slow as the slowest participant."

Alternative: Deputy

Deputy is a Kronos alternative focused on employee scheduling, time and attendance, and employee communication. Despite having tons of features, however, it's still noted as being easy to implement and train employees on. Says one GetApp reviewer, "After researching multiple work scheduling software applications, I found the Deputy Software to be the leading time schedule technology in the market! The installation and employee training was seamless and took less than 2 hours."

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Ease of Implementation

Although older systems typically come with cumbersome implementation processes, many Kronos users cite ease of use as one of its biggest benefits. As one reviewer notes, "[the] product was very easy to get installed and with minimal training I was able to involve myself into Talent Management. Our vendor was helpful when I found myself in over my head."

Having said that, implementation can become more complex as you increase the number of modules. As a result, Kronos offers User Adoption Services in order to help employees with the onboarding process for more complex implementations.

Alternative: PARiM

Workforce management solution PARiM has been noted for its ease of implementation, making it simple for users to get started with the software quickly and see big results. Says GetApp reviewer Sunny Araf, managing director of ISA Security Services, "Creating new shifts, booking officers on, sending out rotas has (sic) previously been time consuming and a major burden on our limited resources… Within days of using the software I have seen increased productivity and finally feel we have found a solution that will allow us to improve the service offering we currently provide [to] our clients."

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Ongoing Support

Kronos has a separate portal for support queries known as the Customer & Partner Portal. From there you can look for fixes to technical issues, manage support cases, and join support communities. It's also got a support matrix for its support services, as well as on-hand technical account managers available year-round. The difficulty is that with many different help portals, it could be difficult knowing which one to check in order to find an answer to your question.

Alternative: Calamari Leave

Calamari Leave has been praised by users for its ongoing support efforts and the ease with which you can connect with its customer support team. Says one GetApp reviewer, "I found it relatively easy to set up barring a few bits which tripped me up, however the customer support is excellent and they have helped me when I have needed it."

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Best for Regular Updates

As with many older systems, Kronos isn't as agile when it comes to updates, with one of its biggest pain points being an outdated UI.

Alternative: Cronforce

Predominantly for time tracking and absence management, Kronos competitor Cronforce offers frequent updates to its product and user interface, especially those made by user request. As GetApp reviewer John Stark notes, "Cronforce has many important features out of the box. However, they also have a great feature release cycle and they will listen to your feedback. We have requested several features that have made it into their update calendar and are now part of the system."

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Which Kronos alternatives have you used?

Kronos is a pioneer in the workforce management industry and a reputable choice for time tracking, scheduling, payroll and absence management. Because it's been around for a long time, however, it's missing some of the flexibility and agility of newer systems. If you're looking for more modern options, there are plenty of solutions that have a range of functionality and features that can tailor better to your workforce management needs.

Which workforce management solutions have you used? Write a review on GetApp and let us know what you think!

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