Keep Track Of Your Employees

Automating time and attendance records saves effort, reduces errors, and allows for better scheduling

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee, Senior Writer, InformationWeek

June 28, 2003

3 Min Read

Though companies have been squeezing labor costs the past couple of years, many large businesses still do so without a clear picture of their employees' time, attendance, and skills. Tracking those factors is often done through a hodgepodge of manual processes or legacy applications.

"The time-keeping task has been neglected at many companies," says Paul Hamerman, an analyst at Forrester Research. "Most have a piecemeal approach of manual or disconnected dumb time-card systems or some automation in some places, but most companies haven't invested in end-to-end solutions." Hamerman estimates that only about a third of midsize to large companies have standardized and automated time and attendance systems. The market for software that provides companywide automation of time and attendance hit about $275 million in 2002, with almost 8% growth predicted for this year, Hamerman says. "Any company with a large contingency of hourly employees needs to do this," he says. Industries such as health care, retail, financial services, manufacturing, and hospitality are among prime targets for such systems.

The most obvious benefit from automating time and attendance is the elimination of the time-consuming and error-prone manual process of figuring out time sheets and time cards and relaying that information to a payroll unit. "Another advantage is better analysis and control over labor allotment, costs, and scheduling," Hamerman says.

Banner Health realized those benefits when it recently rolled out Kronos Inc.'s time- and labor-management software. The operator of 19 hospitals, six long-term care centers, and other services, including family clinics and home-care services in seven states, has deployed the Kronos Workforce Central application suite to 15,000 employees. It will soon be rolled out to nearly all 26,000 workers, says Kathy Schultz, Banner's director of application development.

Using Kronos, Banner employees log on for work at badge terminals, the Web, or an interactive voice-response phone application. This information goes into Banner's payroll systems and is available to managers in real time. For example, nursing supervisors can adjust staffing plans based on factors such as which employees have worked overtime or the skills needed for a shift.

It was a culture change that also provided employees with a financial benefit: Those with direct deposit can access their pay a day earlier, Schultz says. Under the old process, Banner's bank sometimes didn't get payroll data in time to credit employees' accounts so that funds were available on payday.

Smurfit-Stone Container Corp.'s standardization of workforce management on Workbrain Inc.'s Web-based ERM3, an employee-relationship management software system, is part of a larger effort to consolidate systems and processes. The $7.5 billion-a-year container maker also is implementing SAP financial apps and has installed PeopleSoft Inc. as the standard package for payroll processing.

Smurfit-Stone wants to optimize scheduling and tracking of more than 30,000 employees in the 275 North American facilities of its packaging-products manufacturing business. ERM3 interfaces with the PeopleSoft apps, so time and attendance information is sent from ERM3 to PeopleSoft payroll.

While Kronos and Workbrain are leading providers of time and attendance solutions, other vendors include CyberShift Inc. and Stromberg LLC, Forrester's Hamerman says. Large ERP packages also include time-tracking modules.

Photo courtesy of Image Bank

About the Author(s)

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

Senior Writer, InformationWeek

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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