Short-Term Solution Returns A Long-Term Client
Bar Code Solutions And Supplies, Inc. wasn't even considered for a hospital's initial time and attendance solution. That didn't stop the AIDC VAR from winning the contract.
Sometimes, being the bridesmaid isn't necessarily a bad thing. It sure wasn't for Bar Code Solutions And Supplies, Inc. The AIDC VAR wasn't the first choice to install a time and attendance system for one of the largest hospitals in Seattle. But, it was the company that secured the account.
Initially, Harborview Medical Center didn't even consider hiring the Seattle-based Bar Code Solutions And Supplies. The hospital was investigating a customized time and attendance solution that would generate specialized daily, monthly, and annual reports. After researching potential customized systems, the hospital had to reassess its position. "The system the hospital was considering cost much more than expected. It would have taken a couple of years just to get money budgeted for it," says Rick Hennessey, president of Bar Code Solutions And Supplies. "The hospital contacted us to install a temporary time and attendance system that it could use until it could afford the customized system it wanted."
The AIDC VAR jumped at the chance to land the hospital account - even if its solution was considered to be a stopgap measure. Hennessey's company has grown to 12 employees since he founded it in 1996. He has also opened satellite sales offices in Los Angeles, Portland, OR, and Raleigh, NC. After posting $350,000 in gross sales in 1997, the company is projecting $1.5 million in 1998. The Simple Solutions product line that Hennessey's company offers includes time and attendance systems, asset-tracking systems, and tool-tracking systems.
Manual Data Entry Inflates Budget
Bar Code Solutions And Supplies was initially contacted by the Environmental Services Division of Harborview Medical Center. This division, primarily responsible for laboratory research and testing, is one of 16 divisions within the hospital. "This hospital, like most hospitals today, is looking at different areas where it can cut costs," states Hennessey. "Time and attendance systems in each division have a lot of manual processes. They aren't cost effective or efficient."
How inefficient was the system in the Environmental Services Division? Well, consider how employees used to check in each day. Employees arriving at the division would first have their card punched by a time clock. After returning cards to a holding rack, employees would then manually sign in at the front desk. The time cards were used by the payroll department to determine employee wages. The sign-in sheet was used by the department supervisor to compute daily labor expenditures, which were then compared to the division's budget. "This division has 175 employees and there was no way that the time on the card always matched the sign-in sheet. Also, sometimes an employee might forget to sign in," says Hennessey. Accurate or not, the sign-in data was manually entered into a spreadsheet program where reports could then be generated.
Generating Reports From Time And Attendance
Bar Code Solutions And Supplies knew it had a time and attendance solution for the Environmental Services Division. However, the division had no idea how complete that solution would finally be. The VAR installed two DataLog time and date terminals from Acroprint. The units also have a bar-code slot reader where employees "punch in" with a bar-coded ID badge. The badges are produced at Bar Code Solutions And Supplies headquarters using an Eltron printing system. Finally, HourTrack software from Vitrix was integrated with the DataLog units.
The DataLog units record time and date, but Hennessey says integrating HourTrack software brings the system to life. HourTrack extracts the employee ID number, time, and date and transmits that data back to the division's database. Once collected, this data can then be used to create reports. "The hospital was really surprised to see all of the report wizards (templates) that are in the HourTrack software," recalls Hennessey. "Some of those reports allow the hospital to track wages, track the cost of jobs, track multiple jobs assigned to one employee, create schedules and rotate personnel." He also adds that the graphical user interface (GUI) is Windows-based, which made employee training much easier.
Budget For Labor Costs
The time and attendance solution allows the Environmental Services Division to do more than track labor costs for employees within its division. Occasionally, the division may "borrow" an employee from another division to help with a specific testing procedure. Because each division in the hospital has its own operating budget, the Environmental Services Division pays for any employee it uses outside its division. The temporary employee is issued an ID badge and checks into the DataLog terminal. When the employee is ready to leave, the badge is inserted into the terminal again.
"The Environmental Services Division only has a certain amount of money budgeted for outside labor," says Hennessey. "This system allows the division's supervisors to track the amount of money spent on this type of labor on a daily basis. If they are over budget, then they know they have to cut back."
Track The Cost Of Jobs
The ability to do job costing was another benefit that the Environmental Services Division did not expect with its solution. The division often performs medical tests for other divisions within the hospital. Labor costs to perform those tests must be accurate to ensure that each division's budget stays in line. The Environmental Services Division assigns a number to each job it wants to track. When employees start a new job, they enter the job number on the DataLog's numeric keypad and also insert their ID badge. This begins the job-costing process. When the job is completed, employees reenter the job number and reinsert their ID badge. "A job might normally take two hours to complete, but the job-tracking system shows that it took five hours. In this case, the division supervisor can investigate why the job took so long to complete this time," says Hennessey.
Short-Term Solution, Long-Term Customer
While Harborview Medical Center considered Bar Code Solutions And Supplies a temporary problem solver, the AIDC VAR thinks he now has a permanent client. Hennessey has installed a time and attendance system for only one division within the hospital. However, he is currently discussing a similar project with five other divisions. "Eventually, I think all the divisions will be using the same solution," comments Hennessey.
He has also looked beyond his company's current solution to other possible installations for his newfound client. In addition to time and attendance, Hennessey also sees a need for asset tracking and ID badge printing systems at the hospital. "Instead of trying to sell all of our solutions at once, we wanted to install one system that the hospital was very satisfied with," explains Hennessey. "Now we can try to earn more business from the hospital in different areas."