Automated System Helps Control Costs

Workbrain's RetailERM will reduce payroll errors.
At Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corp., paying employees is one of the top expenses for running the business. But the company hasn't been able to control labor costs as efficiently as possible with its out-of-date time-and-attendance system. "It's about 15 years old. I have a hard time getting time clocks for this system," VP of IS Brad Friedman says.

Burlington has chosen to implement Workbrain Inc.'s RetailERM system in an effort to better manage payroll and scheduling. The deployment will start in about a month with a handful of Burlington's retail locations and smaller business offices, where the existing time-and-attendance system will run parallel with Workbrain for a few weeks. By next spring, the new system will be in place at all of Burlington's 350-plus stores in 42 states.

Workbrain was an appealing choice because the product will integrate well with the company's current environment, Friedman says. "We're a big Oracle shop, and we're in the process of implementing Oracle HR, so we needed a product that would interface well with it," he says. Also, Burlington runs Linux-based workstations in its stores, so that took a lot of vendors out of the decision-making process. For companies with 10,000 to 20,000 employees, Workbrain's RetailERM can cost between $1 million and $3 million, including software and services.

Unlike Burlington's current system, Workbrain is Web-based, which should help reduce payroll errors, Friedman says. "We're going to have more accurate information because we'll be able to more easily edit and view the data." Today, when managers make payroll modifications, the data is transmitted back to headquarters, merged with data from other locations, then sent to Burlington's payroll company. "It's a very manual process," Friedman says.

Automated systems such as Workbrain's are critical to helping large retailers control cost, Gartner analyst James Holincheck says. "They need to make sure they can get to the right level of detail about how many hours are being worked in certain departments and compare that to where they're most profitable."