A Detailed ActivTrak Review to Understand Employee Monitoring

There’s been an unexpected rise in remote workers, in part due to COVID-19. And given this surge and disparate usage of both office and personal devices, employee monitoring and productivity tracking have become a necessity for businesses. After all, managers are now overseeing a workforce that’s distributed and nomadic. And as discomforting as it will seem to observe your workforce, it will set your mind at ease if you know how and why these tools are needed, with one such being the ActivTrak review.

ActivTrak is a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service platform that collects user activity, and usage trends to ensure operational compliance. Its purpose is to provide context and visibility into business-as-usual and weed out discrepancies.

This post is an ActivTrak review that will wholly explore the tool’s features, pricing, ratings and challenges it mitigates. Here goes;

1. What is ActivTrak Software?

ActivTrak is a software analytics company. Its workforce productivity tool helps employers understand what their staff spend company time on and how teams work. ActivTrak is cloud-based and insights-driven which enables managers to access and analyze activity.

ActivTrak is based in Austin, Texas, U.S and has 8000+ customers across 94 countries, including clients such as OpTech, RIVO holdings and Axos Bank. The software’s core features include a dashboard, team summary, productivity reports, application and website usage, activity classification, alarms and activity logs. It also integrates with 3P applications such as ZenDesk, JIRA and Microsoft Teams. The ActivConnect integrates with business intelligence data visualization applications, for example, enabling you to run queries and look at activity data through your own private database.

2. ActivTrak Pricing

ActivTrak has both freemium and paid versions. The Free plan lets you create an account and get started right away. The Advanced plan costs USD 7.20 and unlocks access to all features. For enhanced BI capabilities, you can add the ActivConnect to your plan for USD 2 and screenshots and redaction are USD 9.

3. ActivTrak Alternatives

The market is teeming with productivity tracking and  employee monitoring tools. The options, freemium and paid plans, all aim to enable remote businesses to better manage their distributed as well as collocated workforce. We’ve curated a list of ActivTrak alternatives, which are as below;

 

ToolFeaturesPricing
  1. TimeDoctor
  1. Payroll and Timesheet
  2. Time Use Alerts
  3. Screenshots
  4. Track Breaks
  5. Web and App Usage
Basic: $7 

Standard: $10

Premium: $ 20

 

Free 14-day trial

  1. Code42
  1. Data Exfiltration
  2. Insider risk
  3. Incident Response
Contact SalesFree 30-day trial of Incydr
  1. Hubstaff
  1. Timetracking
  2. Geofencing
  3. Timesheets
  4. GPS Tracking
  5. Project budgeting
  6. Employee monitoring
  7. Mobile time tracking
  8. Payroll software
  9. Online invoicing
  10. Productivity measurement
Free – 1 user

Basic  $7

Premium  $10

Enterprise  $20

  1. EmployeeTrail
  1. Employee monitoring
  2. Computer monitoring
0 -1 agent

Basic- $1 for 1 agent

Custom

  1. Workpuls
  1. Workforce productivity analytics
  2. Employee monitoring
  3. Time tracking
  4. Automatic Time mapping
  5. Time and Attendance
  6. Activity monitoring
Employee monitoring $6

Time tracking               $8

Automatic Time mapping     $15

Enterprise  custom pricing

7-day free trial

4. How Activtrak works – Employee Monitoring Features

Through our ActivTrak review, we could see that the tool lets managers oversee employees and reins in control of workflows. It ensures disruptions do not derail a worker’s productivity. Here is what our exploration of ActivTrak took us to;

4.1 Dashboards

What it does

The Workforce Intelligence Dashboard is a centralized display of workforce metrics and insights. It gives managers a bird’s eye-view of productive hours, application and web usage and analysis of how a worker’s effort hours are distributed across projects, tasks, functions and activities. The dashboard also generates usage percentages for each app and/or website, which lets a manager categorize it as productive(and relevant) or unproductive.

Employee monitoring benefits

The dashboard generates a visual template that indicates how much of company time goes into websites and digital accessories that are relevant to the staff’s line of work. Consequently, managers can identify distractions such as entertainment and social media websites. The data-driven insights enable you to gamify productivity and reward those workers whose consistency and commitment is reflected in their online activity. Businesses can also view a chart of users and get a log of risky activities form the alarm risk section. These parameters enable management to gauge the severity of red flags raised and take action.

4.2 Team Productivity Pulse

What it does

The team productivity pulse gives cue cards per employee or by team, which sums up information concerning individual and team productivity. It also displays availability statuses (whether online, idle or offline) which are color-coded. The productive pulse gives you visibility into common work tools, period of unavailability, average number of hours worked per team and which employees are the week’s top performers.

Employee monitoring benefits

In this ActivTrak review, we found that you can aggregate the number of hours each employee works, and further differentiate productive work from unproductive work. The productivity pulse for teams enables you to recognize and reward users by their intent to stay active and keep their work visible.

4.3 ActivConnect

What it does

ActivConnect is an add-on as part of the paid plans for ActivTrak. It features pre-built dashboards, reports and templates that integrate and sync with other business data visualization tools such as Tableau and PowerBI. If you’re looking for enhanced business intelligence and seamless data migration, the ActivConnect is definitely a feature I would recommend adding to your plan, because it refines queries and simplifies your search for relevant findings.

Employee monitoring benefits

Benchmarking productivity trends by department, role, location, time and percentage enable you to optimize and smooth workloads. You can even update the leaderboard of top performers based on usage trends. It also lets you look into those user activities that compromises operational compliance.

4.4 Activity Classification

What it does

Activity classification is an internal library that classifies websites, applications, user traffic and visits. The library is a starting point to understand activity and usage patterns. Activity classification has a quick filter to assign undefined activities. This ensures you do not miss to categorize unbillable, busywork and meaningful work. This makes it easier to see which activities are making you profits, and whether your staff are spending their hours on the right priorities.

Employee monitoring benefits

A catalog of activities, users and usage help you understand productivity reports better. You can also look at the tools employees use ranking them from least to most frequently used. This contextualizes the work that they are on and helps you provide your remote and collocated workers with the tools to succeed.

4.5 Alarms

What it does

ActivTrak comes with 8 alarms that alert you to activities including spent time, issues, flash drive device connectivity, unauthorized access attempts and unsafe browser and website activity. These alarms set up webhooks which are messages that contain information such as IP addresses, app names etc. These are sent out as notifications on messaging platforms such as Slack or through a customized URL.

Employee monitoring benefits

The advantage of alarms is that they automate notifications based on preset rules and triggers. These help you verify the intent and authenticity of user and usage activity. It also terminates applications that are deemed risky to the user trying to access content on such applications.

4.6 Activity Logs

What it does

Activity logs compile the chain of events and makes it easier for departmental managers to analyze workflows. You can go back to time stamped events and investigate abnormalities. The activity log essentially creates a performance map based on the areas employees spent the least and most amount of time. These analytics enable you to institute improvement plans to encourage average and underperformers to work better and course correct their actions.

Employee monitoring benefits

A list of activities profiled by importance, relevance and frequency of usage helps you look at and resolve external and internal threats. You can also see modification of records in real-time, such as adding or removing a user, creating a new trigger or rule.

4.7 Real-time User activity

What it does

This feature  helps you see if your employee is occupied and lets you know as and when they are free and available. This way, you’re not interrupting them if they have their head down in work. It displays a chart of computer and application usage by individual activity. It also nudges employees to take breaks, logs these timings and ensures that individual workloads are both realistic and reasonable.

Employee monitoring benefits

I find the real-time user activity feature to be quite flexible and customized to requirements. For example, you can set up alarms and schedules according to a worker’s contract terms so that seasonal, freelance and full-time worker’s productivity are measured correctly. The schedules can be set to track breaks as well as work-related activity based on hours, days or project-specific durations. l measured on a unified scale Set up unique, ever-changing schedules such as shifts, seasonal workers or third party outside contractors.

4.8 Website Blocking

What it does

ActivTrak’s website blocking feature identifies disruptive websites that serve no purpose on company time. It further creates a list of blocked websites by your business, which you can add, remove or update as and when needed.

Employee monitoring benefits

The biggest advantage of a built-in website blocker is that it detects the distribution of malware and phishing sites that are a front for stealing personally identifiable information (PII). By blocking such websites, staff are reassured that their information isn’t being obtained and leaked without their consent.

4.9 Screenshots and Redaction

What it does

Screenshots are captures of a user’s window and activity. There’s even the option to redact (black out)sensitive information with Artificial Intelligence to prevent it from unintentionally falling in the wrong hands. This feature categorizes screenshot content and rates it based on whether or not it’s offensive. The screenshot report generates a view of flagged content for managers to evaluate from a policy and governance standpoint.

Employee monitoring benefits

Screengrabs help you see what went wrong prior to issues turning up. This makes it easier to provide technical support. It also tells you how many tabs were open on the browser, applications running in the background or any other error messages on the console. You can set the type of information to redact so that it doesn’t appear in what you see, while displaying the rest of the relevant image.

Simplicity and Ease of Use

The dashboard is the first page users are directed to. You can navigate to the tray located on the left panel to hide or unhide the dashboard. The insights, reports and settings have drop downs that let you drill down to a specific usage activity. It’s easy to find what you’re looking for, and the interface takes only a few milliseconds to load from one page to the next.

5. ActivTrak Rating

ActivTrak scores a 4.6/5 and 8.2/10 from Capterra and TrustRadius respectively. The basis for its consistently positive rating is that it is

1. User-friendly and
2. Quick to deploy

I personally liked the website blocking, real-time activity log and alarms feature which all bind well and complement each other. The alarms are pre-configured with the option to add more triggers that apply specifically to your workplace and industry.

The reports are also quite detailed but show instances of inaccuracy in tool usage. For example, a person who is balancing study and work commitments might use the same tool such as a spreadsheet or Google doc for documentation. But since the two are used for separate purposes, it can be a little challenging for businesses who want a complete and impartial picture of only work-centric activities.

6. Pros and Cons of Using ActivTrak at Work

The pros of using ActivTrak are that businesses can

1. Get to the root of bottlenecks because they are backed by visual evidence of the problem, as seen in the screen capturing feature.

2. Website blocking prevents your staff from going onto social media, especially on office devices.

3. Unauthorized data transfers from portable devices such as USB sticks ensure that sensitive and company information such as copyrighted code, personal and professional documents do not exit the boundaries of the office.

4. You can bring everybody onto a unified scale of performance measurement and ensure that you’re appraising contributions without bias.

5. Expectations for productivity, effort investment and time usage are conveyed so that employees are able to play to their strengths and stay self-aware and disciplined while working.

Obviously, most employees would object to the idea of being tracked and measured through a tool. More so if leaders do not think it necessary to inform and involve them in the decision and selection process.

I would strongly recommend looping in your team and letting them know the intent behind the decision to leverage productivity and time tracking tools. Communicating it upfront enables them to understand how it benefits both them and the business in the long run.

It also prevents them from resorting to concealing their online activity and digital footprint., and answering questions from them regarding the information being collected and assessed as part of quality assurance and compliance practices.

Cons I observed during my ActivTrak review, is that

1. At present, there is no option to print and export the live productivity report.

2. It can’t sync offline activities (i.e. when there’s no Internet)

3. The dashboard appears a little unorganized when you first get into it, and it takes a bit of time to find your way around the entire dashboard and remaining features.

7. SORRYIWASONMUTE’s FINAL SCORE

Based on our recent experience using and reviewing ActivTrak, the Sorry,I was On Mute team and I rate it a 7.5 on 10. We particularly liked how simple, visual and detailed the analytics are, and the interface runs smoothly without hanging frequently.

The redaction feature can put your mind at ease, because you can pre-determine the information you want to see, as well as that which is personal and unneeded. The AI algorithm remembers your preferences and automatically blacks out this information from the main screen capture. You can also browse safe websites all day long and be mindful of where your time goes. While ActivTrak’s pricing plans are affordable, you can buy yourself some time and explore its features through a free trial before reaching a decision.

Did this ActivTrak review help you understand how time tracking works and its usefulness?


Aakash Gupta
Written by
Aakash Gupta

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