Hourly is one of those online financial services that wasn’t launched by an established software company. It grew out of a need. Its founders were building contractors who needed to track time for hourly workers. That early mobile app eventually grew into a full-blown payroll solution with workers’ compensation tracking built in and is today a commercial product designed for any small business that needs to track payroll or time for hourly or salaried workers.
Hourly hit the ground running—it went into beta in late 2018—and it’s already a worthy competitor for payroll solutions that have been around for much longer. It was built for mobile devices first, and it offers an exceptional user experience with a robust set of features on both phones and desktops. It still has a few serious deficits, however. It’s only available for California businesses as of this writing, it’s pricey, and it doesn’t offer much in terms of built-in support. Gusto remains one of our Editors’ Choices because of its more-comprehensive set of payroll features and its exceptional usability. The other is OnPay, a versatile, understandable solution that supports many vertical industries.
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Hourly Pricing and Trial Version
Hourly offers a 14-day free trial (no credit card required) that introduces you to its time-tracking capabilities and the user experience as a whole. You can’t see the payroll features, but I’m not sure how many people would set up an entire payroll system during a free trial, only to abandon it when the time was up.
Hourly’s subscription fees are among the most expensive in the group of sites I reviewed. Time Tracking has a $40-per-month base fee, and each active user costs $8 per month (you’re not charged for users during months when they’re not paid). Payroll is $60 per month (base) and $10 per active user every month. Subscribe to both (Time Tracking + Payroll), and you’ll save 20 percent, paying a base fee of $80/month and $14 per month for each active user. There are no additional fees for producing 1099s and W-2s, which some sites charge, but you’ll pay $10 for each payroll you want delivered by the next day.
Getting Started With Hourly
Hourly has an unusual login procedure. Some financial websites let you create passcodes, usually consisting of four digits you can use to log in once you’ve entered a username/password combination. This saves time. It’s also easier to remember a passcode than a password. Hourly, though, requires you to sign in this way. When you sign up, you’ll supply basic contact information that includes your mobile phone number. Hourly then texts you a four-digit passcode that you’ll use to sign in. You’ll get a different passcode every time you log on to the site or the mobile app.
Once you’re in for the first time, you’ll complete a very minimal company profile. This must include your real address. As you start typing it, a drop-down list displays possible matches until you get to yours. When that’s complete, Hourly opens to its Overview (dashboard). There are no further setup instructions like those OnPay offers, but you can schedule a demo.
Hourly’s setup is a hybrid process, as with some competitors. You rely heavily on the company’s professional support staff in the beginning as you enter your payroll data and preferences, and then completely when it comes to importing any previous payroll data you have stored in another service. This is a very complex process that must be done without errors, so Hourly employees handle it.
The site, though, is primarily self-serve; you enter and modify data as time goes on and run your own payroll. Hourly support professionals can “join” you as you go through the various stages of setup. I went through this process with them, allowing them to work along with me as I learned the ropes. They asked permission to view and interact with only Hourly itself, not anything else on my computer, and they guided me through the steps using the cursor to direct my attention to the correct screens and fields. Once I knew what I was doing, I was able to finish entering preliminary data on my own.
Setting Up Settings in Hourly
You’ll spend a lot of time at first working with Hourly’s Settings screens. Here, for example, you designate your first pay cycle by clicking start and end dates on a graphical calendar. This gives you total flexibility over how often you pay your employees (unlimited payrolls incur no extra charge), but you can’t set up more than one cycle. So you couldn’t, for example, pay hourly workers weekly and salaried employees biweekly.
You also need to identify the bank account that will fund your payroll. You add this payment method by entering routing and account numbers and uploading an authorized signature. You also have to specify a default payroll delivery method. If you submit a payroll by 2 p.m. on a weekday, checks can be delivered the next day ($10 charge per payroll). You can also print your own checks and paystubs from the PDF that Hourly emails to you.
You also choose from other options here. Since Hourly offers tightly integrated time tracking, you can establish time policies, like enforcing an eight-hour workday (unless a manager has approved overtime) and a 30-minute lunch. If you have employees working at one or more job sites and you want them to clock in on their phones while there, you’d turn on GPS services. Additional setup tasks here allow you to, for example, request email reminders for pending pay runs. You can also enable chat access for managers and employees.
The Settings screens also include a list of Payroll Adjustments. These are adjustments you may need to make to paychecks that change salaries and hourly wages. Five are built-in and can’t be deleted (though you can make them inactive): Adjustment (Taxable Additional Wages), Bonus, Tips, Advance Repayment, and Reimbursement. The list provided isn’t as comprehensive as some sites’ options, such as QuickBooks Payroll’s, but you can add your own, both taxable and non-taxable. Hourly doesn’t offer any benefits administration like Gusto does, for example, but you can set up payroll deductions for health insurance, retirement plans, and other benefits if you offer them.
Employee Records in Hourly
Payroll websites require complete employee records before the first payroll run. Hourly, like its competitors, allows employees to enter much of the information in their own records. To add an employee, you click the Employees link in the left vertical toolbar and then click the Add Employee button. A vertical pane slides out from the right that contains fields for the individual’s name, mobile number, email (optional), pay rate and type, and employment type (1099 contractor or W-2 employee).
When you click Save & Invite, a text goes out to that phone number with a link that takes the user to Hourly. Once on the site (or in the app), he or she can complete the profile by providing a home address and filling out the fields provided for a W-4 or W-9. The employee can also enter bank information to set up direct deposit. Employees who have completed their profiles can access their pay stubs, time-off accrual and usage, direct deposit information, and other details anytime by logging in.
Hourly: Good for Contractors
It’s clear that Hourly was designed for contractors, and it’s a good application for that field. The mobile phone-based time clock capability is one example of its suitability. Employees working at job sites can use their phones to clock in and out easily to various job locations (managers can create records for each location on the site). Time-clock data is integrated with payroll, so hours worked are available for the manager to use in the next payroll run.
You don’t have to take advantage of the automated time-clock option in Hourly, but the site was designed to be used that way. Managers can enter hours manually, either on a time sheet or as individual shifts, but this is tedious work. Other sites, such as Gusto, allow employees to punch in and out on a time clock.
Two other features that make Hourly so suitable for contractors are its job costing and expense report capabilities. The job costing screen displays job costs (labor only) in real time, something that is unique among the sites I’ve reviewed. The Job Costing screen is divided into three sections, accessible by clicking tabs. The first shows current hours and total cost. The accompanying color-coded chart is tied to the list of tasks below it; each color represents a different task.
The data table also contains columns for current hours worked and current cost for each task. Click on a row, and a vertical pane slides out from the right displaying the individual shifts that make up that total. Click the Employees tab to see your job costs broken down by individual worker, and the Periods screen breaks the job down by week. You can see all this information for each job by clicking its name in the list to the left. This is a very effective way to get a quick real-time look at the basic labor costs for all of your jobs.
Employees can also complete and submit expense reports for individual purchases. Hourly doesn’t provide multi-item, comprehensive expense reports (and I wouldn’t expect to see this feature in a payroll-processing application), but you can fill out a form that includes fields for Value, Description, Payment Method, Pay Period, and Location. Once a manager approves a reimbursement request, that information can move into the payroll automatically.
Finally, Hourly provides comprehensive support for workers’ compensation. You can work with an advisor who will find the best options for you, and then enroll online. Hourly calculates your premiums and automatically withdraws the correct amount each pay period, so you’ll always know what to expect.
Running Payroll With Hourly
Hourly’s Payroll screen is very simple, but that’s because some of the payroll information is hidden. A vertical pane on the left displays a list of current and past payrolls, along with their status (Due, Paid, Current Payroll). To the right of that is a larger table that contains all of your employees—salaried, hourly, and contractors—with columns for Time, Net, and Amount. There’s also a column that displays three dots, some of which are usually grayed out. A yellow dot means that the employee has at least one payroll adjustment for that pay cycle; clicking on it opens a side panel that shows you what it is. Blue means direct deposit, and red means overtime.
Click on either of the latter two or on the three vertical dots at the end of each row, and a menu of options opens. This contains entries like View [Employee] Profile, View Paycheck (displays all wages, deductions, and other adjustments), Payroll Adjustments, and Request Time Card Approval (you can allow employees to approve their hours before running payroll). Some of this information appears in a slide-out pane, but some requests take you off the main payroll screen (a link takes you directly back to the Payroll page). If anything is missing that would prevent you from running a complete payroll, like “Missing Workers Comp Class,” an explanation appears in red next to the affected employee so that you can fix it.
Click on the Taxes tab, and you’ll see totals for the current payroll’s federal and state tax-related payroll deductions. The Ledger tab opens a screen containing ledger entries (debits and credits) for your current payroll expenses. You can access payroll periods that are in progress at any time, and Hourly displays a real-time total for your payroll. I haven’t seen this in any other payroll service.
When you’re ready to run a payroll, you click the Pay button. A vertical pane slides out from the right that contains fields for your payroll subtotal, delivery option (physical delivery the next day for an additional $10, or self-print), shipping address for paper checks, account information, and pay date. Click Run and a small box opens asking you to confirm the amount and account again. Click Run again. If there are any problems with your payroll, Hourly displays an error message and allows you to correct it. If not, you’ll be returned to the Payroll screen, and “Due” will have changed to “Submitted” (you can still undo the payroll at this point). Hourly sends you a text message alerting you to the payroll run that was just submitted and email you your checks to print.
Hourly’s Dashboard, User Experience
Most payroll websites use their dashboards (home pages) to share information about upcoming payrolls and tasks that need attention. Hourly doesn’t. What’s there is very helpful, though. You see your current payroll total in real time (no one else does this) and the number of employees on the clock and off the clock. Below that is a list of the locations where work is currently underway. These are marked on the large map that takes up most of the screen. While this might be the most critical information for contractors to have about their crews, other businesses would probably rather see a to-do list and important dates and links to related payroll data.
On the whole, Hourly’s user experience is excellent. Color and graphics are used effectively, and navigation is never a problem. Links to the site’s primary sections (Payroll, Employees, Time Off, and so on) are displayed in a vertical pane on the left. Data and activity screens are clean, attractive, and easy to understand, and buttons in the upper right take you to related screens. It’s a pleasure to use.
An important link that’s missing, however, is one that takes you to online help. There is none. There’s a slimly populated knowledgebase, but you can’t access it from within Hourly. You have to open a new browser tab and go to the home page. There is, however, a Chat link that appears in the lower left where you can get some live assistance during business hours and links to more help outside of those hours.
Mobile Access in Hourly
Hourly has both an Android app and an iPhone app, and they’re both excellent—not surprising, since the application was built for mobile first. The apps are missing the Time Off tool, but they’re otherwise comparable to the browser-based version, with a slightly different user interface. The map doesn’t appear on the dashboard (it’s tucked away on the Locations screen), and you have to click the three vertical lines in the upper left to slide out the navigation menu. But the user experience is just as effective and attractive as it is on the desktop.
Off To an Impressive Start
Considering how young Hourly is, it’s an impressive payroll-processing and time-tracking solution. While it’s clearly geared toward contractors and hourly workers, it could also be used by more generic businesses. Unfortunately, it’s only available for use in the state of California at this writing, and it lacks robust online help, benefits administration, and an all-purpose dashboard. What’s more, it’s expensive compared with many competitors. All those caveats aside, if you’re a contractor in California who doesn’t need a comprehensive payroll-and-benefits solution, Hourly is for you.
For most small businesses, though, we recommend one of our Editors’ Choices, Gusto. It’s a good solution for many types of small businesses, offering an exceptional user experience and all the tools you need to pay employees and contractors. OnPay is also an Editors’ Choice this year because of its overall excellence and its special support for vertical industries.
For more reviews of financial services for yourself and your small business, take a look at our roundups of the best online accounting services and tax software.
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Source By https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/hourly