12 timely steps to improve the bottom line

Sue
Weekes reports on how time and attendance systems can help organisations to
introduce more flexible working patterns while at the same time having a
positive impact on the bottom line

The
innovative use of time and attendance systems, as demonstrated by women’s
fashion retailer New Look, are enabling HR departments to make an impact on the
bottom line, especially when the data is used strategically. But simply
automating time and attendance can reap considerable cost savings for any
organisation.

An
independent report by Nucleus Research on the Kronos time and attendance system
used by New Look revealed that companies can save up to 3.5 per cent of their
annual payroll bills simply by automating their time-keeping systems. The
report advises organisations to place time and attendance technology high on
their list of priorities as it is likely to deliver returns at a lower risk
than many other IT investments.

Keith
Statham, managing director of Kronos (www.kronos.com),
says that while few customers are using the system to the extent that New Look
is, there are a number of trends emerging.

“Many
of our customers are exploring the possibilities of offering more flexible
working arrangements for staff and many use Kronos to monitor flexi-time
contracts,” he says. “And we’re receiving more and more enquiries about using
Kronos to manage annualised hours contracts, particularly the warehouse and
logistics sectors.”

But
what should an organisation look for in a time and attendance system, and how
do you ensure it delivers bottom-line savings?

With
the help of Kronos, Personneltoday.com has compiled a 12-point checklist to
help you make the right choice:

1.
Select a project leader and an implementation team of five to 10 people made up
of representatives from all stakeholders – HR, finance, IT, payroll,
management, union or staff representatives. Draw up an agenda and time-plan,
clearly defining the role of each member of the implementation team.

2.
Take time as a team to define your current manual process and how your current
system works. Pinpoint problems that might be improved with automation, and identify
areas for time- and cost-savings.

3.
Clearly understand and define all payroll policies and practices for each
employee. This is time-consuming but critical. Manual payroll systems tend to
mask payroll policy inconsistencies that generally stem from a lack of
understanding of complex pay rules, disparate departmental interpretations of
pay policies and sporadic enforcement of pay rules.

4.
Define your automation goals. Typical top-level goals might be to:

·           Reduce the time spent manually
calculating and keying in payroll data

·           Decrease overall labour costs

·           Comply with government regulations

·           Apply pay policies consistently

·           Provide managers with
up-to-the-minute information to enable them to proactively manage staff

5.
Identify the potential for savings. Quantitative savings spring from such
measures as reducing the handling of timesheets and unauthorised time,
eliminating mathematical errors and data keying, and establishing consistent
and accurate application of pay rules.

6.
Gain management support – be prepared to talk return on investment.

7.
Define your system requirements. How do you want to collect hours-worked data?
Methods include biometric hand scanners, swipe cards, telephones and PCs. Do
you want the time and attendance system to interface with the
payroll/HR/warehouse/management system?

8.
Look at your existing IT infrastructure. It is important that whatever you
choose fits in with your existing computer environment. Are you standardised on
a particular data management system? Will you be investing in client/server
technology? Will data be managed in one location or across a number of sites?

9.
Evaluate the cost of a system. The cheapest system will not be the best option
if it does not meet all of your criteria. Invite selected vendors in to conduct
a site survey. Ensure that all vendors can provide a first-year cost summary
detailing hardware and software costs (with itemised breakdowns), training
costs (with number of anticipated days), installation costs and recurring costs
(such as maintenance and software licence renewal and upgrades).

10.
Select a vendor. Carry out the following steps:

Check
out vendor references – if possible, visit the offices of another customer

Draw
up a vendor services checklist, including questions such as:

·           Does the vendor have a good
reputation for service?

·           How many installations has the vendor
completed?

·           How much money does the vendor spend
on ongoing research and development?

·           Will the vendor provide automatic
upgrades as part of the maintenance contract?

Draw
up a company background checklist to include the financial stability of the
company, the level of commitment and experience with your particular industry,
company history, stability and product lines

11.
Having selected a vendor, draw up an implementation plan to include timescales
for preparation, installation, activation and going live.

12.
Plan a review of the project six months after going live.

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