Increasing profitability and productivity

Keeping tabs on actual employee hours worked can provide small and large businesses with a satisfying increase in profitability and productivity. According to John Powell, CEO of Powell Tronics, the return on investment for businesses deploying a workforce management (WFM) and time and attendance (T&A) solution is both swift and satisfying. Combined with this is the added benefit to employees of the assurance that they are being paid for exactly the number of hours they have worked.
Powell says that while T&A readers have been available for a number of years, the software used in conjunction with these readers has been characterised by an inherent inflexibility. In response to a growing demand by the market, Powell Tronics tackled this issue with the development of a suite of web-based T&A software solutions under the ATOM brand.
Of specific importance is the fact that users can log in to the system virtually from anywhere, making remote T&A and workforce management a cost-effective and efficient reality. Powell explains that by coupling ATOM Mobile with a smart device such as a Safran Morpho tablet, an organisation’s T&A system becomes completely portable. The ruggedised cover on the Safran Morpho tablet allows the unit to be used in various applications such as construction, agriculture, utilities (such as power generation and communications), as well as for cellular networks and towers. In essence, the solution is applicable to any out-of-the-way location where workers have to be clocked in remotely.
A number of benefits are evident when deploying a WFM/T&A system such as ATOM. These include the elimination of buddy clocking, since the requirement for the presentation of a valid fingerprint forces the employee to be personally present on site when a biometric reader is used. In addition, management will be able to accurately measure productivity in terms of the exact hours worked and the determination of the best suited employees available for specific tasks.
“Management can in fact extrapolate the calculated hours per individual, add the Rand value per hour through a payroll system, then automate the system to convert hours worked into an actual Rand value to the company. This will not only reduce the time normally required to calculate this manually, but will furthermore radically increase the accuracy of the calculation. By automatically and systematically calculating the hours worked, no accusations of nepotism can be levelled at human resources personnel,” Powell points out.
The implementation of shifts and rosters has become increasingly simple with ATOM as it is based on templates with an easy-to-understand drag and drop interface. This saves companies a substantial amount of time and money. The very visual interface provides users with a graphical overview of hours worked by individuals as well as team members. In addition, the interface to Payroll like VIP or SAGE is automated and allows for remuneration calculations to be undertaken with ease.
According to Powell, a WFM/T&A system such as ATOM is beneficial to both small businesses and larger enterprises. Smaller companies can justify the purchase of ATOM by considering the ROI rationale. By factoring in the large number of possible hours that would be lost if one did not manage the manpower electronically, the profitability and therefore the return on investment, can be easily realised. With smaller systems there is less need for integration with other systems since these businesses can typically operate a smaller standalone software package.
Larger enterprise solutions, however, generally thrive on integration with complementary systems. Powell says that there are two types of enterprise solutions available. Firstly, one can consider a
market sector such as the retail space, where there are a large number of small branches each with a fairly small staff complement. However, there is an extensive biometric terminal requirement, since each outlet will require clocking in and out by employees with a link back to a head office enterprise system. Therefore data connectivity to these sites is imperative. The biggest challenge here is the enrolment of personnel, since they are spread over a national footprint. The second solution is typical within large corporations that have a large staff complement, for
instance in the manufacturing and mining sectors. The biggest challenge faced here is the throughput of personnel at clocking points, without causing bottleneck situations.
Both alternatives require extensive consultation and planning before the implementation of the T&A/workforce management solution. In most instances integration with ERM (employee resource
management) and access control solutions is paramount. Powell believes that it is essential to secure buy in from staff members and this can be achieved by
focusing on the accuracy and convenience of the system, coupled with the elimination of alleged nepotism. “A common complaint heard from employees is that some human resources personnel
are perceived to favour their friends by allocating excessive work hours to their employee number.
By using a system such as ATOM, this purported nepotism is completely eliminated since the employees hours will be automatically allocated to their records only when they present their
fingerprint,” says Powell. Interestingly, in companies where unionisation is common, the unions are eager to adopt an electronic, automated system that provides proper reporting, since an audit trail provides the employee with an unbiased and objective remuneration based on actual hours worked. “The sky is the limit as far as workforce management is concerned. ATOM will allow the scalability of a T&A system from a small single reader to one that operates on a fully integrated access control backbone such as Portal. We are able to leverage a number of successful installations and tailor solutions that best suit users,” says Powell.