Time And Attendance Solutions Beyond Time Clocks
Ceridian Time and Attendance incorporates scanning, biometrics, interactive voice response and kiosks in solutions for the manufacturing and financial markets. Combining technologies is helping this VAR supply more than just time clocks to its customers.
Founded in 1986, the company is a subsidiary of Ceridian Corporation (Minneapolis, MN), a leading information services company. Ceridian Corporation serves the human resources, manufacturing and banking/financial services markets. Ceridian Time & Attendance provides labor tracking solutions to customers in these markets. Headquartered in New Albany, IN, Ceridian Time & Attendance has 135 employees. The company reported sales of $11.3 million in 1997. Ceridian Corporation's 40,000 customers include 40% of Fortune 1000 and 30% of Fortune 100 companies. In 1998, Ceridian Corp. reported earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of more than $223 million.
Banking On The Right Solution
Ceridian Time and Attendance turns hours worked into paychecks by automating the calculation of hundreds, even thousands, of pay rules in professional and manufacturing settings, says Hebert. "Our customers range from very large organizations with thousands of workers to companies with fewer than 10 employees."
Because the needs of each customer vary, Ceridian Time & Attendance provides customers with several options for collecting employee data. Hebert says customers today have at least two goals in mind when purchasing a time and attendance solution. One goal is the efficient collection of data - the hours employees worked and their productivity while on the job. A second goal is to reduce costs associated with errors in the process of collecting employee time and converting the data into paychecks.
Hebert uses the example of a large bank with several branches and hundreds of employees to illustrate how various technologies are being used today in time and attendance. The most basic time and attendance solution is still the time clock, says Hebert. Bank employees, for example, simply punch in and out at the time clock within their branch. But, as the bank becomes more sophisticated in its use of technology, solutions beyond the basic time clock can be utilized.
Biometrics: An Added Layer Of Security
"The beauty of biometrics is that it verifies the identity of employees completing transactions," says Hebert. "A standard time clock, or even an interactive voice response (IVR) system, can be compromised. Biometrics eliminates all that," he says. Popular forms of biometrics used in time and attendance include finger and hand geometry.
In the bank example, employees can swipe their ID badge through a magnetic stripe reader to clock in and out. The biometric system verifies that the card swiped belongs to the correct employee. "Biometrics works best for a captured workforce, that is, people who are within a facility on a regular basis," notes Hebert. Biometrics is not yet widely used in conjunction with time and attendance functions over the Internet. "The technology is a little more expensive than a time clock," he explains.
Punching In On The Desktop
Many employees also use a desktop PC. With time and attendance self-service software loaded onto their computers, these type of employees can easily clock in and out using just a password. To eliminate costly management of the system, Hebert says, many companies now have the time and attendance applications residing on a server. "The applications can be accessed by many employees at the same time by using a standard browser," says Hebert.
This type of scenario is what is driving time and attendance applications to become Internet-enabled. "Eventually, you will have company employees dialing in from remote sites or branch offices accessing their company's time and attendance application," predicts Hebert.
Kiosks Act As Shared Desktop Computers
Kiosks are also being used for time and attendance as well as other human resources-related functions. "Employees can use a kiosk in the lunchroom to clock in and out for meals," says Hebert. The kiosks can also incorporate magnetic stripe readers or biometric devices for added security. In addition to time and attendance functions, employees can use kiosks to review and make changes to their benefits, such as their 401 (k) plans, says Hebert.
He uses the bank example to illustrate the cost savings a kiosk or PC solutions may provide. "Supervisors or human resource employees could spend much of their time changing benefit information or looking up accrued vacation time for 200 bank employees," he explains. Integrating a kiosk into a time and attendance system enables supervisors to approve vacation requests or verify benefit changes electronically. It also frees human resource employees to work on other priorities.
Voice And Paper Solutions
So how do the bank employees without desktop PCs or kiosk access punch in and out? One method is to use an interactive voice response (IVR) system. Employees simply dial in and state their password. Using the keypad and prompts from the system, an employee can access various types of information, including hours worked, hours scheduled to work, vacation time accrued and sick time used. The benefit of using IVR is that it is "technology neutral", says Hebert. That is, most business locations have a telephone, the only piece of equipment employees need to use the system. "Companies with remote employees may find IVR an ideal solution," says Hebert.
Many companies use pencil and paper to track employees' hours, but with a high-tech twist. The paper is specially encoded "bubblesheet" paper. (It resembles the forms used by students to take the SAT test.) The bubblesheets are scanned using a document scanner and specialized software. The information is then downloaded into a company's payroll system.
Hebert admits the bubblesheets are more expensive than regular timesheets. However, there are advantages to using this type of system. "There are higher costs involved with installing time clocks or PCs in a company and training employees on how to use them. Scanning bubblesheets is generally less expensive," says Hebert. This method can also enable a company to adopt technology quickly and easily.
Predicting The Future Of Time And Attendance
With IVR, kiosks and biometrics taking hold in time and attendance, what will the future bring? Hebert says that the Internet will play an even bigger role, as companies improve their infrastructures.
Companies are also increasingly reliant on time tracking to enhance their decision-making abilities. Hebert uses the example of a manufacturing facility - a union shop - where overtime must be offered equally to employees. "Information from the time and attendance system lets a supervisor know who was offered overtime, who accepted it, who declined it, and which batch of employees should be offered overtime next," explains Hebert. Billing is also being incorporated into time and attendance solutions, along with labor tracking. Attorneys, for example, can use such software to track time spent working on a particular project or for a particular client. The applications, says Hebert, are much broader than traditional time and attendance.
"There is a tremendous payback for customers to implement time and attendance solutions today," concludes Hebert. "The payback is driven by the reduction of manual collection of time and attendance information and the calculation of payroll."