Employers struggle to control wage-and-hour litigation | Business Insurance

Employers struggle to control wage-and-hour litigation | Business Insurance.

Legal Experts Stress That Social Media Background Checks Create Risks | Human Resources News Information

Legal Experts Stress That Social Media Background Checks Create Risks | Human Resources News Information.

Ease of User Interaction

by Lloyd Frazier

clerks_desk The workforce management solution business has matured quite elegantly over the last several decades.  Up until the late eighties,  the electro-mechanical time clock was the typical solution for keeping track of employee time and attendance.  From the employees perspective, ease of use was obvious.  You grabbed a paper time card, inserted it in the time clock and “kerthunk”, it was stamped with the current date and time.  If you worked for a very large company, you might even have checked in with a timekeeper clerk.  The clerk would enter the employee attendance information into a time log that the payroll department utilized.  From the user’s perspective it was very time consuming to sift through hundreds of paper cards or logs and calculate time on a mechanical calculator.  At larger firms, the data was likely entered into a terminal for the mainframe to calculate and process payroll checks.

Then came the IBM personal PC.  A boon to business in the eighties, the Personal PC was widely implemented.  What became apparent was the need for the perfect complement to this hardware.  Microsoft DOS quickly became the default operating system.  Software development firms sprang up like daisies and mosquitoes in spring.  As DOS based timekeeping solutions began to show up on the PC screens, it became evident that what took a  whole staff to do to process employee time could be handled by a handful of people.  User interaction improved immensely.

With the advent of Microsoft Windows, and other graphic based user interfaces, more and more tasks could be accomplished in the same amount of time.  As complexity and features crept into the application’s code, ease of user interaction took a lesser role in software development plans.  The need for more detailed management tools and information coded into applications demanded more user monitoring and reporting. 

Web applications and cloud computing have taken to the internet quite nicely. Web 2.0 has finally blossomed to where web applications are as good as OS dependent ones.  Many workforce solutions developers do take ‘ease of use’ seriously and are now able to design very fluid, user friendly interfaces.  In-cell editing and embedded functionality are starting to mature in web applications and ease of user interaction is back in the fold.  Dashboards, graphs, and data gauges allow for on screen, up-to-the-minute review of key labor metrics that can make or break your bottom-line.  A perfect compliment to or replacement of reports and manual processes.

When shopping around for the ultimate workforce management solution, demand a thorough demonstration with user interaction in mind.  Have a workforce solution consultant walk you through typical processes related to your industry.  This will keep ‘ease of use’  on the forefront of future application development.  It doesn’t make sense to implement the ‘killer’ solution if it takes away your data tracking and monitoring efficiency.

Thanks for taking the time to read my interpretation of the workforce solution industry.  I have been implementing time and attendance solutions since 1996.  I have touched everything from electro-mechanical to web based cloud solutions.  It is recommended that you approach your future solution goals with your management and supervisors in mind.  It doesn’t do your company any good if you implement a new system that your division/department will not enthusiastically adopt because it actually slows them down.  After all, time IS money from a labor perspective.

3 Legal Issues to Consider When Going to the Cloud – ReadWriteCloud

3 Legal Issues to Consider When Going to the Cloud – ReadWriteCloud.

What a Software Maintenance Contract Needs to Cover – PCWorld Business Center

Software Maintenance contracts are a usual part of a complete business software system. However, things can be a bit cloudy as to what actually gets covered.

Click this PC World link for an interesting point of view:
What a Software Maintenance Contract Needs to Cover – PCWorld Business Center.

Audit Trail – A Road to Disaster?

By Lloyd Frazier

audit One of the oft forgotten,  critical aspects of a good time and attendance system, when shopping around for one,  is the audit tracking capability.  A well designed system will keep track of who was logged in and what actions they performed by date/time, and even what computer they were doing it from.  Having the ability to add notes and/or reason codes can help with reporting requirements.  Good audit tracking ability across all modules is important.  Edits to time cards, schedules, benefits, etc. should all have audit tracking mechanisms in place so that when that moment comes, you are able to report on the who, when, what and why of most everything that has been done to the data in your system.  This information is invaluable during legal and labor disputes.

Webopedia.com defines Audit Trail as such:

audit trail

A record showing who has accessed a computer system and what operations he or she has performed during a given period of time. Audit trails are useful both for maintaining security and for recovering lost transactions. Most accounting systems and database management systems include an audit trail component. In addition, there are separate audit trail software products that enable network administrators to monitor use of network resources.

The other aspect of good audit tracking in a time and attendance system is the ability to identify misuse by users that could jeopardize the accuracy of your data.  A Supervisor or Manager might not have sufficient training on the system or is setup up with the wrong access profile and performs edits on punches and schedules that could cause cause legal issues and inaccurate reporting.  After all, you purchase a time and attendance system to streamline your labor tracking processes.  Audit tracking keeps the system viable.

With so many new time and attendance systems coming to market, it can be difficult to wade through all the features, benefits, and sales speak.  Finding and retaining a good consultant can take the hassle out of deciding on  the application that best fits your requirements…and most importantly, your budget.

The author of this post has been in the time and attendance system implementation arena for 15 years.  During that time, he has developed relationships with many experts in the field.  Stay tuned to this blog for future information.  Thanks for reading.  May your business see growth and success in the future.

Scope Creep: Don’t Let it Put the Brakes on Your Implementation

By Lloyd Frazier

scopecreep One of the biggest obstacles to keeping a software system implementation project moving along and progressing through the stated milestones is scope creep.

Scope creep is a term used in the software development and implementation fields to describe usage, function, or performance requirements that were not part of the original scope of a project. 

A good example I run across frequently is during the user training sessions for a client’s new time and attendance system.  During these training sessions,  executives, managers, and supervisors  often uncover software functionality that they could leverage in their daily operations or realize other benefits they must have configured for the system to be useful.  At times, it can be difficult to get the client beyond discussion of these additional features and functions that had not been specified in the original scope.  Many times, especially during this tight economy, to close the sale,  the  sales executive  offers a system price  with the client  that  seals the deal.  Usually the implementation/training hours are cut short in that process.  To keep the new client happy, most likely a compromise has to be made so that you can move the project along.  This can push the project over budget from additional implementation labor.

A very good explanation of scope creep can be found at projectperfect.com.  The post points out four key areas where scope creep can rear its ugly head.

  1. Insufficient Requirements Analysis Definition resulting in business requirements that are not well defined.
  2. Underestimating the complexity of the problem in an unknown industry.
  3. Management failure in managing user expectations.
  4. Involving the users only in later stages of project life cycle such as programming and testing.

On the first point, a good time/labor management consultant with experience in the vertical he is serving, should understand all areas of their client’s business environment.  A thorough specification process that includes surveys, feedback forms. and interviews with key people should help uncover all areas where the consultant’s application and services will be helpful.  By doing this, you help to avoid the remaining three points in that list.

Preventing scope creep by using tried and true processes that a good consultant will have developed helps their client be successful and creates a continued partnership with them for years to come.

A key point is not to alienate your relationship with your client.  Develop a plan wherein you can accommodate your clients additional requirements with the understanding that it will be handled as a separate ”enhancement” implementation.  By assuring them that the best action is to stay the course of the original project plan, they can relax, focus on the original project milestones, become adept at utilizing the solution they planned for, and then look forward to additional benefits in the near future.

Happy consulting!

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