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Kronos Workforce Central Review—A Technology Evaluation


Workforce Central HR Software Technology Review

Kronos Workforce HR and Workforce Payroll consist of a web-browser client coupled with Microsoft SQL Server database that handles back-end processing. Like other components in the Workforce Central suite, Workforce HR and Workforce Payroll communicate over the Internet, company intranets, local area networks, and wide area networks. The thin-client architecture requires a single installation on your server without the need to install client software on individual desktop systems.

Workforce HR and Workforce Payroll share a single database with the rest of the Workforce Central applications, ensuring that data is stored only once and kept up to date. Employees and managers access applications using single sign-on (SSO) functionality for tasks such as editing and approving timecards to updating their benefits or direct deposit information. Reminders and approval cycles are managed using the same configurable workflow mechanisms across the Workforce Central suite.

Workforce HR and Workforce Payroll are n-tier (i.e. multi-tier) applications, consisting of load balancing across multiple workstations, web servers, and database servers. As a result, the HR software implementation can be scaled incrementally across the network to users and locations in order to extend processing and value. This flexibility also allows the HR applications to be scaled as needed to fit maintenance windows, distributed support systems and fail-over. Workforce HR and Workforce Payroll achieve maximum scalability with efficiency by exploiting the strengths of the Microsoft stack—including Windows Server, Internet Information Server (IIS), and SQL Server. With industry standard protocols and published interfaces, as well as proven reliability and performance, these solutions support flexible deployment and third-party integrations.

System Integration Capabilities

Kronos' Workforce Integration Manager (WIM) – is the integration component of the Workforce Central Suite and is designed to ease the process of sharing data between Kronos and third-party systems. By leveraging industry standards to create interfaces for data transfer, WIM facilitates data sharing between systems, including HR management systems, payroll, Enterprise Resource Planning systems and other legacy applications. Indeed, the Workforce Integration Manager (WIM) can interface Kronos workforce management systems to nearly any critical business system (including internally built or custom systems) as long as that application can import and/or export standardized files.

In some ways the WIM is one of Kronos' best features due to the fact that this data configuration and conversion tool allows for workforce management data to be converted into the appropriate format for a target application. As Kronos as an HR software vendor and the HRMS landscape as a whole have progressed, this tool has evolved to accommodate many integration scenarios. And it appears that because Kronos was first a time and attendance vendor, integration points have been built with nearly every other vendor in the HRMS and talent management market. In fact, WIM offers extensive data extraction, manipulation and conversion capabilities for non-traditional and complex interface requirements. Data fields can be transferred directly from a Kronos system to a destination system or vice versa while employing data integrity methods. Source data, like employee names or numbers, can be concatenated or parsed to meet varying import requirements. Further, if a payroll or ERP system needs data that is stored in more than one system, the WIM interface can run SQL queries to extract information from a number of different sources. Organizations choosing to leverage Kronos' Workforce Central Suite may gain additional value for analytical and decision-support applications through the expansion of access to labor and other key business data.

Groupware integration is limited to email only at this time; however, notifications are standard features within the Kronos Workforce Central Suite and are designed to provide proactive announcements, alerts, and reminders to managers and employees via their corporate email system and/or through the Workforce Central internal K-mail system (a Kronos delivered tool for employees that do not have access to a corporate email account).

Software Customization Capabilities

Workforce Process Manager, Kronos' workflow tool, allows the creation of triggering events and step-by-step business process flows within the Workforce Central suite of applications as well as with other customer applications. This is done by using SOAP/ XML APIs. Kronos provides a web based Business Process design tool as part of Process Manager. This tool allows for the creation, modification, and management of Labor Management and Human Resources business processes. Workforce Process Manager includes tasks, sub-tasks, business rules (conditions), resources, external data, and forms. A library of standard templates is delivered with the HR software. These templates can be modified by customers using custom tasks which allow for the ability to retrieve data from external applications as well as post data to external systems.

The Workforce HR and Payroll applications are built on a Microsoft technology platform. The database logic exists as a collection of stored procedures written in Transact-SQL, the database programming language used by the SQL Server database engine. The software development environment for the rest of the business application is Microsoft Visual Studio (Version 6.0, SP5). This is used for the three main elements of the HR and Payroll applications. The interface for Manager and Employee Self Service uses simple ASP and VBScript on the server and HTML and JavaScript on the client.

The administrative interface (used by HR and Payroll administrators) is a collection of custom ActiveX controls written in Visual Basic 6 (Version 6.0, SP5). The full administrative interface consists of Visual Basic controls (OCX, DLL), as well as HTML, JavaScript, and VBScript on the client. This dated technology results in required browser downloads and lack of support for some common web browsers. The payroll engine (which runs on a back-end server) is a combination of a C++ (Version 6.0, SP5) application and a set of location-specific calculation objects written in Visual Basic (Version 6.0, SP5). This development technology isn't the most current, but delivers strong OLTP performance.

The final main element of these two HR software applications is the reporting engine which relies on Crystal Reports. XML is used for integration with other Kronos applications and for database logging.

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