Time & Attendance article series
6 Factors to Consider When Choosing Employee Time & Attendance
Written with Nathan Brick, Senior Application Consultant
I have been working with time and attendance systems since 2001. Sure, it takes a technical aptitude to deal with servers and database. However, if you can’t relate to the person/customer and understand their needs, what good is it? Before working with time & attendance, I had to manage teams of people: making sure that the schedule was right, tracking down missing punches, and dealing with employee issues. I think this really helped me understand both sides of the software. Even today, I think about how I would have wanted to have a report or the data outlined.
There are three components to employee time & attendance. The software, hardware, and service. Let’s begin with the software.
When you think about what goes into a time & attendance application, it is very involved. Time & attendance has so many different moving parts that need to be filtered down so that your payroll software can do its job. Think of it as an old paper card, and the calculations that would go into calculating it per person, per day, per all of the rules only done automatically. This information includes but is not limited to: pay calculation rules, overtime, bonuses, work flow, lunch rules, schedules and exceptions, holiday pay, requested time off, door access, and points and incidents. So, when you’re choosing an application to provide this information, it’s critical to find one that best suits your needs.
The hardware that your employees use to perform the act of punching in also has two components. All clocks work off the same idea. The employee goes to the punch and uses one of the following, a fob, ID card, or biometrics and the unit that accepts a transaction. Most clocks work as a network appliance like a printer or other peripheral device.
The service you receive with regard to both the software and hardware should be great. When you are researching where to obtain these services, make sure you are tracking this critical aspect. Having clocks or software that is down is an urgent problem that should always be handled quickly. Make sure you can count on your provider’s service.
Now that you know more about the components, we can get into the factors that can make your switch successful.
- Evaluate where you’ve been.
Finding the best software to meet your needs begins with an analysis of what you’ve been doing. Why are you looking for a change? What do you need that you’re not currently getting? Talk with all those involved – especially your attendance hero (if that person isn’t you) – and be sure to get a good baring on what has and hasn’t worked. Knowing this will make sure you find solutions when you choose the software/hardware.
- Know what type of software you need.
It’s important to know that your organization will need to choose between hosted or licensed software. Hosted software is cloud-based and the software you’re using is actually off-site. Licensed software is an application you purchase and is located on the servers at your company location.
Regardless of what type of software you choose, it should be accessible. The best software has web-based login options. The reason this is important is for mobility and safety. Time & attendance software is a more effective tool when it can be accessed wherever the attendance hero finds the need. Working from home? No problem. Your computer crashes in a ball of fire? No problem. Web-based software is not only the standard, but it should be required for efficient workflow.
- Make sure you get solid, reliable time clocks.
Here’s where we come back to the hardware for a minute. There are so many options available when choosing the hardware to accompany your software. Whether it’s more standard like fob or card-based scanning, or something more involved like a biometric clock, having something that works for your organization and the size of your employee force is critical. You also want to do research into what is reliable to make sure there is as little downtime as possible. Having multiple clocks at a site enables you to have more up-time and removes congestion at the clock.
- Keep it easy to use.
The capabilities of your time & attendance software are advanced but it shouldn’t feel like work every time you use it. Make sure the user interface is one that you feel very comfortable with using. Any company worth its salt is going to make sure you are at ease when using the software they’re providing through training and service. Talking with colleagues about what worked for them can be helpful. See what others thought and how it fit into their daily work routine.
- Check out the service offered after the sale.
Service shouldn’t be “dead” when you really need it. When you’re researching a company to partner with on time & attendance, make sure their service is terrific. It’s better to do the research up front. No one wants to find out that the reason for the low price they received is because there’s no (or little) service to back it up.
Also pay attention to the size of the organization you’re evaluating for services. Some are so big that when you have a question, they will put you off indefinitely because your good will isn’t that important to them in the long-run. Check reviews. Ask for references.
- Think long-term.
Just because you change your payroll company doesn’t mean there should be any difference in the time & attendance software you’re using. Make sure the software you purchase will work with virtually any payroll software. This is something that not every organization who retails time & attendance will provide. If the company is one worth dealing with, they will be able to help you through any changes you make in payroll systems.
BONUS – Find a building access software that integrates with your employee time & attendance.
When it comes to companies who need to keep track of many employees and have large facilities, having integration between these two key software support systems is a win. Not only will you be able to determine if people are coming into the building when they are not scheduled, but you can run other reports to determine if access or time is being abused. Having these integrated also provides heroes with the ability to immediately remove access of terminated employees
I hope you find these tips useful. If you use these factors as a guideline, you should find your work life simplified.