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Payroll Lab Open Source Payroll Software An Initial Look at TimeTrex’s Open Source Payroll Software

Dave Foxall An Initial Look at TimeTrex’s Open Source Payroll Software

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 By Dave Foxall

Vendor Solution Brief: TimeTrex’s Open Source Payroll Solution

TimeTrex Company Overview

TimeTrex is a British Colombia company specializing in both free and commercial versions of payroll and time and attendance software. Originally developed in 1999 as a custom application, the general-purpose version has been available in various versions since 2003. That said, the bulk of the attention that TimeTrex receives is due to the provision of an open-source freeware version of its payroll software—an application with basic functionality which has achieved a high degree of popularity with both small to mid-sized businesses as well as the larger open source community itself.

TimeTrex’s Open Source Payroll Application Purpose

TimeTrex open source payroll software is available in Standard, Business, and Pro versions—each containing progressively increasing functionalities of the system’s various scheduling and time & attendance functions. However, both Business and Pro are commercial software; whereas the Standard is available as a free download. Interestingly enough though, the ever-popular payroll module is available in all three varieties; and is fully integrated with the scheduling and time & attendance functionality—allowing “one-click” payroll without the need to re-key or import/export data. The following functions and features are built-in:

  • Automatic calculation of federal and local income taxes as well as other custom deductions such as benefits, insurance and accrual programs;
  • A variety of tax and other government reports, including (among others) the United States’ W2, W3, 940, 941, and 1099; as well as Canada’s T4, T4A, Record of Employment (ROE), and Remittance Reports;
  • Direct deposit electronic transfer of payroll funds to employees;
  • Multiple check printing formats; and
  • Detailed electronic pay stubs for each employee that can be securely viewed online or printed out at any time.

Furthermore, while TimeTrex can cover the entire payroll process, it also supports some of the most popular and widely-used payroll outsourced providers; including ADP, Paychex, QuickBooks Pro, Ceridian, Millennium, and SurePayroll.

In addition, TimeTrex offers a number of ancillary supporting services to help organizations with implementation and utilization. For example,

  • The TimeTrex University offers a series of short training videos in the use and setup of all aspects of the system.
  • The TimeTrex Implementation Services team offer customizable support options including new customer start-up plans, installation support, application customizations, data migration and ongoing maintenance.
  • TimeTrex maintains a community forum of 7,000+ members providing flexible and experienced support with questions usually receiving a response within the hour.
  • Email support packages are included with purchase of either the Pro version or any on-demand deployment; and telephone support can be purchased by the hour, or in blocks of time at a discounted rate.

TimeTrex’s Customer Target Market

TimeTrex make a virtue of offering a payroll solution suited to any small to medium-sized business and in any sector and have done their homework to ensure that the risks associated with open source payroll software are mitigated. The only potential limit may be geography as the payroll module has a definite North American focus. TimeTrex developer Jon Hutchison has been quoted as saying, “TimeTrex is downloaded over 12,000 times each month. We have organizations with as few as two employees and with as many as several thousand employees using TimeTrex on a daily basis.”

TimeTrex’s Perfect Prospect Profile (PPP)

Although, as stated above, TimeTrex make a point of not targeting a particular niche or customer type, the company website makes a deliberate pitch to companies currently still managing time & attendance and payroll manually and want to, as they put it, “join the 21st century” by automating such processes.

TimeTrex’s Technical Specs

The freely-available open source code will run on a wide variety of operating systems – including: Linux, Sun Solaris/Sun OS, Microsoft Windows NT/2000/XP/Vista/7, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, IBM AIX, and Mac – and comes with two deployment options: on-demand and on-site. The choice of deployment though largely depends on two things: a) the client’s degree of comfort with having another company managing payroll and time management assets; and (b) the level of IT expertise that resides within the organization.

Only the Business and Pro editions are available on-demand, whereas all three versions of TimeTrex are available for on-premises use. However, IIS or Apache web servers are required; as is PHP 5.0 or greater with PEAR and MySQL v4.1.3+ with InnoDB support or PostgreSQL v8.0+.

TimeTrex’s Primary Competitors

Other North American suppliers offering stand-alone open source payroll software are thin on the ground (although Traceworks does offer a payroll engine designed by Open Sky software). That said, the competition for payroll modules integrated with open source ERP solutions is considerably larger and includes OpenPro and Sysfore (designed for the OpenBravo ERP system).

Strengths of TimeTrex’s Open Source Payroll System

  • The freeware version may be all some businesses need and for others it allows a no-obligation try-out.
  • The TimeTrex payroll solution has the capability to run on non-Windows operating systems.
  • Customer feedback praises the system’s flexibility and speed.

Weaknesses of TimeTrex’s Open Source Payroll System

  • Customer opinion suggests that the TimeTrex package is too feature-laden for basic needs.
  • An off-shoot from the above negative comment, users indicate that a simpler user interface is needed; however acknowledgement was given that, with some work, it was possible to “hide” unused features.
  • Clients seeking a broader ERP solution with an integrated payroll module may need to look outside of TimeTrex to be able to achieve the level of functionality needed.

Bottom-line for TimeTrex’s Open Source Payroll Software

TimeTrex’s payroll module is straightforward, multi-platform, has a choice of deployments, a range of support options, and is open source (therefore allowing as much individual customization as the user’s programming expertise can manage). While it may lack a certain enterprise-class polish, the fact remains that many small to medium-sized businesses will find that the TimeTrex solution can meet all their basic payroll needs. As a CNET review noted, “There's certainly a lot to TimeTrex, both in terms of what it offers as well as getting the most out of it. However, at no point did this powerful tool feel at all intimidating in either local or Web-based functions. Far from it--we'd say it's one of the least confusing and complicated time-tracking programs we've tried, despite its many features and options.” End

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The freely-available open source code will run on a wide variety of operating systems – including: Linux, Sun Solaris/Sun OS, Microsoft Windows NT/2000/XP/Vista/7, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, IBM AIX, and Mac – and comes with two deployment options: on-demand and on-site.”



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