How can a time and attendance system help you?
What is a Time and Attendance system: It’s a system used by companies of all sizes and types to record the working hours of employees. This type of system is also invaluable for ensuring compliance with workforce regulations regarding proof of attendance. A Time and Attendance system collects the data from clocking devices or a software program available through PCs, the internet or mobile phone. Clocking devices vary from swipe cards, proximity cards, proximity fobs and biometric terminals (fingerprints readers) or via the Internet on Smart Phones, Laptops and PCs.
How can you ensure that your organization selects the right system?
1. Ask yourself some hard questions
BEFORE YOU EVEN TALK TO ANY SUPPLIERS, THERE ARE QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK YOURSELF.
What do we want a new Time and Attendance system to do for us? What are the things that we’re not doing well and how will they be done better with a Time and Attendance system?
Identify key areas for improvement
Identifying key areas for improvement will help you to set a realistic budget for your system, as you will have started to identify the business benefits you are aiming to achieve and the costs associated with them. All good software (and hardware) related investments should be self‐funded in the long run, so you should be clear from the outset of the Return on Investment (ROI) you are expecting.
2. What to look for when selecting a new time and attendance system?
What would be the best way for employees to access the system – at clocking‐in machines, online or maybe via a handheld device like a mobile phone? It could be that a combination of these would be most effective so this will help refine your supplier search to those companies who can accommodate this.
Does your business have any unusual quirks? Many firms have shift patterns or payment categories that are unique to them. Consider whether you are prepared to adapt the way you work to the system, or whether you would rather invest in a system that is adaptable to you? Levels of customization vary from system to system. Some systems can be easily customized by the user, others may need to go back to the developers ‐ which will incur additional costs – while towards the lower price end, it may not be possible to customize the system at all.
3. How should I assess all the products and suppliers?
Not all suppliers are the same
Full service companies have complete ownership of the software development process and the associated quality control. In the event of any issues with the software, their support team will have direct access to the staff that developed it. Re-sellers often have lower overheads, as they don’t need to support the costs of a development team. Arrangements can differ as to who supports the product after the sale.
Before you decide which type of supplier to choose it is worth considering the following:
Aftersales Support – is the company who sells the system going to provide the support or will it fall back to the developers? How are support staff trained on the system and how is their knowledge kept up to date? Do they only support one type or brand of system, or systems from lots of different suppliers?
Development – who is responsible for making changes to the system, either to provide new functionality or to correct problems? You need to establish clearly who your point of contact will be and what service levels you can expect. If you opt for a company with an in-house development team it is still worth checking that they can make system amendments within a reasonable time scale.
4. What is the likely lifespan of a system?
Time and Attendance, like all software, will go out of date over time. Changes will need to be made to reflect updated legislation and new technology. When choosing a supplier, consider how they handle system upgrades as this can impact considerably on both the useful life of the system and the total cost of ownership.
A good supplier should keep your system current by sending out version updates or allowing you to download them, but costs can vary. Check what level of support is available to assist you in making more complex updates and what the cost would be.
A word of warning: some companies place their customers on contracts that oblige them to pay for system upgrades after a certain period, increasing the cost of ownership. Whilst all companies must make old versions of software eventually obsolete, some withdraw support much sooner than others. Check that the choice to upgrade will be yours and not that of the supplier.