Time And Attendance Market Opens Up To Open Architecture
As the general computing market transits toward networking, Windows and the Internet, time and attendance terminals follow suit.
A piece of advice to time and attendance VARs – keep up or get left behind. With technological advancements picking up speed, Dick Novacek, Acroprint's systems sales manager, says specialize in one software package – and know it like the back of your hand. Acroprint has manufactured and distributed time recording equipment and accessories for 29 years, and employs 150 at its Raleigh, NC plant.
"The problems that VARs run into with time and attendance software are that they are trying to sell too many types of software packages," says Novacek. "They're not adding any value to their end user. All they are doing is peddling boxes. VARs need to understand one software program in depth. They should be able to train on and support one package."
Ride The "Digital Wave"
Advanced VARs, according to Ed Squires, president of Acumen Data Systems (ADS), are riding the "digital wave" along with other time and attendance manufacturing and software development companies. ADS, a four-year-old company, sells, develops, installs and supports software and terminals for data collection, time and attendance, inventory control, shop-floor data collection, and production monitoring. Annual sales are nearly $2 million and 12 people work in its Enfield, CT office. "We encourage our VARs to be trained and have a continued relationship with Microsoft regarding networking," says Squires. "They are staying on top of changes in the market by staying on top of changes in technology."
Both men agree one of the biggest changes in time and attendance is the migration from legacy systems to Windows-based application software. "People who have stand-alone DOS-based terminals want LAN-based terminals and client/server WAN-based terminals," says Squires. More people are asking for client/server-based terminals and software. Companies are looking at what other job applications work well with time and attendance. Questions are frequently asked about job tracking and job costing.
"Corporate infrastructures are changing because of the move from legacy to client/server-based applications. In order to successfully integrate, time and attendance has to do the same thing," says Squires.
Get Proper Networking Training
Most VARs have no problem working with Windows 95 and 98 applications, says Novacek. But as the market continues to shift toward networking, it's going to be a requirement for VARs to fully understand these platforms. "When we are quoting packages now," he explains, "many companies want to know if the person installing the package is a Microsoft system certified engineer. Time and attendance software packages are being loaded on the server that controls the computer system for an entire company. The time and attendance software might install fine, but another program on the system might cause it to crash – or vice versa. VARs have to know what to look for and what to fix."
The next trend will be Internet applications. "In the future, the use of PCs, the Internet and other developments will make people forget about time clocks, just like electric typewriters."