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Dave 5 Factors of Effective Time and Attendance Software

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 By Dave Foxall

Time & Attendance Technology: The Sum is Greater Than The Parts

Keeping track of employee time (i.e. making sure that the right people are in the right place, at the right time and at the right cost) is a long-standing core HR software function. In fact, Workforce Management software solutions (e.g. time and attendance, scheduling and leave management) comprise 17% of the total HR software market. Not surprising then, is that the Aberdeen Group's 2011 study, Time and Attendance Strategies found nearly 60% of all organizations already have automated time and attendance software—and for good reason. In terms of user experience, CedarCrestone's 2011-12 HR Systems Survey found that on a three-point scale of "poor-acceptable-excellent", time and attendance solutions consistently receive ratings between "acceptable" and "excellent". Interestingly enough as well, automated time and attendance software offerings are among the few HR software areas which actually receive better ratings for on-premise deployment compared to SaaS or software-as-a-service. Be that as it may, deployment options are only one element of end-user satisfaction and business benefits; the following five factors also collectively make a big impact.

Time & Attendance Software Factor #1: Integration

Much has been said elsewhere on the general topic integrating core Human Resource systems, ancillary applications, BI (business intelligence) systems and other related applications. Only when HR systems are integrated can data be shared in real-time throughout the organization and business processes automated across departments. In the 2010 report The Future of Core HR, the Aberdeen Group noted that by integrating time and attendance and scheduling functions with payroll, PTO (paid time off) and other core HR elements, "these systems will eliminate redundant workflows and will reduce the margin of error in tracking actual time worked." Add in improved HR analytics and reduced labor costs and system integration becomes the foundation on which time and attendance benefits are built.

Time & Attendance Software Factor #2: Access

With increasingly flexible working patterns and the rise of the "home office", most employers are now dealing with workers who are effectively "in the field". Indeed, the CedarCrestone survey found that 12% of organizations are already using HR systems with mobile access, allowing workers to submit their time records remotely and seek approval through an online portal application. And predictions are in that say that figure will rise to 19% within a year. Of that remote access, the easiest method is to utilize a web-based solution says In fact, according to company representatives, "Whether the employee is located at the main office, working from home or even working in some far-off area of the world, a web-based time sheet program will help employers track the attendance of employees directly and more simply." In addition, broader functionality includes such possibilities as expense claims online, leave requests and even project management tools to facilitate accurate resourcing in the field rather than just time/attendance.

Time & Attendance Software Factor #3: Familiarity

Any enterprise software implementation must anticipate and negotiate the natural resistance that people have to change. HR systems that have a familiar interface—whether it is access through a familiar device such as a smartphone, a traditional user interface such as a Windows-inspired desktop or a web app that leverages popular social or consumer technologies—significantly mitigates that user resistance. As the Society for HR Management found in their 2011 report, Transforming HR Through Technology, "We all have been "trained" to go to the Internet for all sorts of information and services, and employees expect to be able to access their HR information and complete HR tasks via the Internet. If employees can save themselves time – say, by submitting attendance information online – system use becomes less of an issue." Educating users, illustrating personal benefits for the users (i.e. what's in it for me) and a simple but rewarding user experience are often the top 3 change management tactics to erode user resistance.

Time & Attendance Software Factor #4: Accountability

Not really a system feature so much as a responsibility and configuration issue, Aberdeen's Time and Attendance Strategies study found that, "Simply integrating or interfacing timekeeping with payroll can yield to inaccuracies, time theft, or overlooked incidents that can put an organization at risk". Rather, according to the study, efforts should be made to develop and maintain an on-going accountability procedure. Indeed, according to Aberdeen "Best-in-Class organizations are 58% more likely to have a process in place for HR to review and approve time data before processing payroll." Clearly, technology aided with consistent processes delivers the greatest payback.

Time & Attendance Software Factor #5: Flexibility

There are two levels of activity here. First is the use of the system's data for day-to-day scheduling and real-time decisions. In fact, the Aberdeen Group noted that what really drives, "time and labor management efforts, is the need to use historical data to make better deployment decisions". However, the success of this strategy rests on the fact that an organization must be able to report on this data in the context of business performance. Further, the analysis must actually be used to make scheduling decisions. As fundamental as accurate scheduling is, a fully-integrated system that can correlate the time and labor data with other HR and BPM (business process management) information has the ability to produce an impact which is at a higher, more strategic level. Hence, by producing valuable metrics and contributing to predictive human capital analytics, decision-making can be significantly enhanced.

The Time & Attendance Bottom Line

By taking into account the future needs of the workforce and keeping the wider strategic picture in mind, selecting the right time and attendance software can have an impact on an organization's bottom line business measures such as margins, profits, output and productivity. As the Aberdeen Group report summarizes, "true success lies in leveraging self-service tools, analytics, and integration with other core systems, specifically scheduling, payroll and leave management. [After all,] ultimately, the goal is to drive business performance." End

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Author  Author: Dave Foxall
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With increasingly flexible working patterns and the rise of the "home office", most employers are now dealing with workers who are effectively "in the field".


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