If you suspect (or even know) that you’re over paying contractors or are being over-billed, then TransparentBilling.com might be your solution. This is an employee time management suite meant for those who use computer-based contractors and off-site employees. It combines a punch clock with screen capture and keylogging to monitor on-the-clock workers.
It’s useful if your contractors, outsourcers, or off-site employees are paid by the hour and you’d like to track what they’re doing with that time. On the other hand, if you pay for performance (i.e. by the job or by the milestone), then this probably isn’t really going to be useful to you. Especially not at $299/year/user.
TransparentBilling works pretty simply. Each person to be tracked is given a login and downloads a small app to their computer. When they log into TB and your project, the software activates and records screenshots in 3 minute intervals, uploading them to the site onto a secure server. It also records averages in keystrokes and mouse movements during those three minutes to give you an idea what the person might have been doing in between screenshots.
From the manager’s perspective, screens can bring up productivity numbers, Gantt charts, task-related discussions (handled by TB), and more. A timeline of screen shots for any given period can be looked at and feedback can be left on any point in that timeline so the employee knows what you may want to change or do differently.
Having worked in and worked with freelancers, contractors, and outsourcing agents, I can tell you that in some circumstances, TransparentBilling might be just what the doctor ordered. Most of the time, however, freelancers aren’t interested in this kind of micro-management and will rebel.
Again, though, this is something that specific types of projects or business models may require and this option is one of the better ones I’ve seen recently.