ActivTrak Review | Is It the Right Software Suite to Monitor Your Employees?

Employee tracking software is becoming an everyday essential for millions of businesses of all shapes and sizes worldwide. One of the most popular suites currently available being ActivTrak, which claims to cover all bases and budgets from top to bottom.

A claim confirmed in most ActivTrak reviews published online, which in the vast majority of instances contain nothing but positive praise. Features and functionalities are certainly not in short supply, while the ActivTrak pricing structure isn’t particularly steep.

But how does the app ActivTrak compare to similar employee monitoring packages up for grabs right now, like the one we covered in our Hubstaff review? When held alongside alternative options like those we reviewed here, does ActivTrak genuinely stand head and shoulders above the competition?

ActivTrak Review - Is it Worth it? 

The long and short of it with ActivTrak is relatively simple. Competitively priced and exceptionally intuitive, the answer is yes – ActivTrak is worth it. But whether or not it’s the right software suite for you is a different matter entirely.  It all depends on the features and functionalities you’re most interested in.

ActivTrak makes a long list of claims to fame, apparently going beyond simple insights to serve as a powerful business intelligence tool in its own right.  A rare break from the norm, ActivTrak also claims to have an extremely user friendly interface, a dashboard that’s not too clunky and a very gentle learning curve.

You can track the amount of time your employees spend on specific tasks and projects, you can measure their overall productivity and you can keep a close eye on their movements. ActivTrak is easy to download and install, runs smoothly on machines with modest specifications and doesn’t demand a degree in computer science to get the best out of.

It’s also one of the less draconian employee monitoring suites around, swapping the usual excessive micromanagement for important and actionable insights.

ActivTrak pricing

ActivTrak is a decently priced, intuitive tool that wraps its key employee monitoring features in a layer called Team Behavior Analytics. It delivers a business intelligence (BI)-style dashboard that provides insights on the performance of your company. ActivTrak delivers an easy-to-follow user interface (UI) along with these analytics capabilities.

ActivTrack software

ActivTrak Features

Employee monitoring software can be designed and deployed from one of two perspectives. With most businesses, it’s a case of suspicion and distrust leading them to assume the worst of their employees and watch their every move to catch them out. For a more proactive business, it’s more a case of generating the kinds of important insights needed to boost efficiency and improve overall performance.

ActivTrak is one of a selected few software suites to land on the latter side of the spectrum. It’s a significantly more positive and proactive employee monitoring system than some of its counterparts, which isn’t simply about identifying ‘lazy’ employees and disciplining them accordingly.

To put it another way, ActivTrak isn’t designed primarily for spying on employees – it’s more about actionable business insights.

Of course, ActivTrak can be used to track the amount of time employers are spending on specific activities, while recording the websites they visit, the amount of time spent on each page and so on. It can also be configured to take screenshots on a regular basis, flag security issues such as file transfers and take note of when systems are idle.

Interestingly, ActivTrak is one of the few platforms available that enable you to prompt employees with popups when they do something wrong (or attempt a forbidden activity), without actually making a note of it in their log. The idea being that rather than noting their mistake (or forbidden activity) but not educating them about what they did wrong, it takes a more positive and proactive approach.

Access to websites can be restricted by authorized ActivTrak administrators, though unfortunately cannot be made accessible during certain working hours – such as lunch breaks. You have to simply block access to them entirely or not.

Employee Monitoring

ActiveTrak’s primary dashboard prominently displays aggregated tallies of productive and unproductive time at the top of the screen, which can be filtered in accordance with groups, tasks, users and so on. A little further down, screenshots are displayed having been snapped every few minutes or so, along with a productivity chart that provides a visual overview of productivity and idle times. Additional charts and graphs below show the websites visited most, and the apps used most often, which can be analyzed in further detail to indicate length of time spent on each specific website and so on.

Unlike some employee monitoring systems, there’s no allowance for customizing the widgets on the dashboard itself. Though to be honest, everything is presented pretty much perfectly, so you probably wouldn’t want to change a great deal. Besides, the real-time tab is great for taking a look at what your employees are getting up to at the time, providing the option of taking screenshots or even zooming in on specific areas of the screen.

ActivTrak features

What’s also interesting about ActivTrak is that it does not log keystrokes, which is one of the primary features of many comparable packages. This is a deliberate exclusion due to the fact that keylogging software is often picked up on as malicious by antivirus software, and can therefore cause issues. Keyboard and mouse movements are recorded to track activity and idleness, it’s just that specific key presses and commands are not monitored or recorded.

Optical character recognition for the identification of specific words or terms in screenshots isn’t currently available, but the company behind ActiveTrak insists it is on its way in a future update.

Business Intelligence

As already touched upon, the biggest selling point of ActivTrak is the way in which it focuses more on business intelligence and optimization than spying on employees in the traditional sense. It absolutely enables you to see who’s working and who isn’t, but is more about producing comprehensive insights and actionable data for the benefit of your business.

ActivTrak doesn’t just produce data – it brings real context into the equation.  It’s not simply about seeing how much work gets done and who is doing it, but how the work gets done and the extent to which time allocated to tasks is appropriate and efficiently used. Inefficient operational workflows and poor processes can be identified and addressed, wasteful practices can be stamped out and potentially distracting environments removed from the equation.

You use real-time insights and automated reporting to find out what’s working with your current processes and policies, in turn enabling you to improve them accordingly. Of course, the fact that its features and functionalities also extend to remote workers is an added bonus. And given the fact that ActivTrak is available for just over $7.00 per user per month, what you actually get in terms of value for money is a pretty impressive business intelligence suite.

Productivity

Employee productivity can be difficult to measure at the best of times, given the various factors that need to be taken into consideration and an endless list of variables. ActivTrak has been designed to provide the kind of hard data needed to assess the productivity and efficiency of your team and your individual employees, in accordance with your definition of productivity and your KPIs.

For example, you can use ActivTrak to keep tabs on the amount of time spent on calls with customers, time spent on specific websites and applications, numbers of emails sent and received, time taken to complete certain tasks and so on.  Productivity charts are clearly presented to indicate aggregated productive and unproductive time, which can then be compared with data from previous periods to identify and address trends. Usage limits can also be set for websites or apps considered unproductive, while productivity data can help you identify and recognize top performers.

Ultimately, ActivTrak enables you to create a working environment that encourages and rewards productivity. You monitor break times and system idleness, but you also provide reminders to take break when employees are working too hard. You encourage every member of the workforce to take an active interest in their productivity and output, empowering them to work to their full capacity.

ActivTrak can be used to identify inefficiencies and poor performance for the purpose of reprimanding ‘lazy’ employees if you wish, but this isn’t what it was primarily designed to do.

ActivTrack productivity graphic table

Remote Work

All the features and functionalities ActivTrak brings to the table can also be used to monitor remote workers. With more businesses than ever before embracing the potential benefits of remote work, employees at all levels are finding themselves spending much of their working week at home. Highly advantageous in terms of overheads, home working can nonetheless bring a variety of challenges into the mix. Examples of which include keeping track of who is doing what, ensuring employees achieve an appropriate work/life balance and the obvious issue of measuring productivity.

ActivTrak gets to work on all these issues, automating the process of supervising remote workers. Importantly, ActivTrak is designed not simply to check that your employees are working, but to analyze how they are working.  Accountability goes hand in hand with empowerment, so say those who use and recommend ActivTrak.

The software can be used to gain essential insights into how remote workers make use of their time, while at the same time enabling employers to identify and resolve workflow bottlenecks. If there are any security or compliance issues in your home working procedures and policies, they’re made easy to identify and can subsequently be addressed. Detailed information can be viewed in real-time, or in the form of aggregated reports which can then be compared and contrasted between different time periods.

Of course, ActivTrak is also extremely useful for identifying employees that are working excessively, enabling employers to proactively prevent burnout.

It’s also worth noting at this point that remote working bosses can also make full use of the various features and functionalities ActivTrak brings to the table, which is compatible with the vast majority of connected devices – desktop and mobile alike.

Reporting

ActivTrak comes with a whole bunch of preset report formats and automation options built into its dashboard. A simple click is enough to access reports on Top Users, Top Categories, Top Applications and Top Websites. Reports are also compiled on productive and unproductive time, the amount of time systems are left idle and so on. Productivity reports provide a useful snapshot of the productivity of a worker or team over the course of a day, week, month or year. 

In the event that activities or habits are detected in these reports that you’d prefer to be ousted, you can set alerts which will trigger when the activity in question is identified in future. You can also specify keywords and phrases to be detected when entered into search engines or web browser address bars, which can either prompt a popup to remind the user they’re doing something wrong or to inform the appropriate supervisor.

If you’re unhappy with how much aggregated time your employees are spending on certain websites or social media, custom messages can be created to tell them they’ve exceeded their allotted time. You’ll find all the information you need to decide what steps are necessary in the automated reports ActivTrak creates.

ActivTrak reports

Deployment and Training to Use ActivTrak

I’d have to say that this is one of the most impressive aspects of ActivTrak as a whole. With many employee monitoring suites, the initial learning curve is steep enough to be downright terrifying. This is also a category of software that’s notorious for its clunky and dated dashboards, with user interfaces that don’t tend to be particularly streamlined.

With ActivTrak, everything is surprisingly well positioned and well organized.  The user interface is intuitive and the dashboard is pretty great in general.  Which is a good thing, given that there’s very limited scope for customization of the dashboard. This has been highlighted as a negative in a fair few ActivTrak reviews, but I didn’t see it as an issue at all.

Even with no prior knowledge or experience of these types of systems, I honestly don’t see anyone struggling to get to grips with ActivTrak. Nor do I imagine any extensive training or coaching would be necessary to get a good grasp of the basics. If you know your way around a computer and aren’t afraid of data in a relatively raw form, you won’t find ActivTrak particularly daunting.  In any case, the support provided by the ActivTrak team is pretty decent and there are plenty of helpful resources available, if you run into any difficulties at any time.

ActivTrak Support

Speaking of which, most ActivTrak reviews I came across during my research highlighted customer support as one of the biggest perks of the package.  Registered customers can get in touch with the customer support team from 7am until 7pm (CST) Monday to Friday, using the following customer support channels:

  • 1 (888) 907-0301
  • info@activtrak.com
  • twitter.com/activtrak

What’s particularly interesting is how ActivTrak seems to be exceptionally honest and transparent when it comes to the pros and cons of surveillance software. Indeed, check out at few of their resources and published articles and you’ll see they’re not afraid to point out potential pitfalls and legal issues associated with employee surveillance.

In addition, ActivTrak’s response times are outstanding across the board. No problem getting through by telephone during peak hours, with e-mail response times vastly outperforming those of many competing brands.

customer support

Of course, there’s no ignoring the fact that 24/7 customer support isn’t a thing with ActivTrak. Not only do they operate during limited working hours, but there’s no support offered whatsoever at weekends. You might get a response via their social media channels, but anything else and you’ll be waiting until Monday to hear from them. Not the biggest issue if your business operates standard office hours, but less than ideal if you work seven days a week.

In any case, this is hardly a deal breaker as the quality and availability of ActivTrak’s customer support is leagues ahead of the competition. Put to the test, you can count on these guys to provide you with the technical support and honest advice you need to get the best out of the software suite.

In Summary

As you can probably tell, I have little other than glowing things to say about ActivTrak. Personally, I’m of the belief that employee monitoring software should be deployed and used in a proactive and positive way. Draconian surveillance suites that take micromanagement to extremes aren’t, in my opinion, particularly useful for anyone.

The simple fact of the matter being that if you instinctively don’t trust your workers to get the job done competently, you probably shouldn’t have employed them in the first place.

Hence, you can see why ActivTrak prefers to market its software as a business intelligence tool in its own right. It can be used to ‘spy on’ employees in relatively precise detail, but this isn’t the main reason it was developed and launched. If you’re more about optimization, empowerment and establishing a culture of improved performance than picking fault for the sake of it, ActivTrak comes highly recommended.

Pros

  • Intuitive and streamlined dashboard
  • Excellent user interface in general
  • Very easy to get to grips with
  • Affordable packages to suit all budgets
  • Compatible with most desktop and mobile devices
  • A more positive and proactive approach
  • Excellent business intelligence insights
  • Ideal for bolstering remote worker security

Cons

  • No keystroke logging
  • No optical character recognition

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