A Guide to Workforce Management Solutions

Workforce Management Software (often shortened to WFM) addresses a specific need within an organisation regarding the operational planning, deployment and management of staff. WFM is generally sandwiched between HR and Payroll solutions with integration to each other. However, whilst HR and Payroll are generally admin solutions, WFM focuses more on the operational needs of the organisation.

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WFM often incorporates several core modules

Time and Attendance:

This provides the ability to record the attendance of staff often in real-time through data collection devices (Card or Biometric) and calculates the time a colleague has been at work, any absences, lateness and overtime.

This information is then passed (via integration) to the payroll system avoiding the need to manually enter and calculate hours to pay. This automates much of the manual activity, removes payroll errors and ensures equal and fair treatment of staff.

From an operational perspective it ensures managers are alerted if staff do not turn up for work enabling them to find immediate cover. From a management perspective it provides managers with data on lateness and absence so that they can take appropriate and timely action.

Naturally, every organisation is different and operate different polices. An advanced Time and Attendance module can cope with different environments and policies. For instance, in an office environment, they may operate a Flexitime policy and want to track hours worked, TOIL and ensure the Flexitime rules are adhered to.

An organisation with seasonal peaks and troughs may implement Annualised Hours for staff and require the Time and Attendance to manage this specific policy. Not all Time and Attendance solutions provide this flexibility.

Rostering:

The ability to plan your staff resources effectively can often be challenging for managers particularly where there is a need for specific skills at particular times of the day/week.

Almost every workforce management solution provides rostering, but this can be limited to basic planning (Shifts). Advanced solutions such as HFX enable more detailed planning and provide the ability to plan where the staff are going to be deployed (location), their activity, Cost Centre, Department or Client and even cost the plan against a budget for that team/department/cost centre.

This enables managers to ensure the right people are at the right place with the right skills at the right time. From an operational perspective this ensures that the work is completed on time and to budget. From a financial perspective it enables the organisation to ensure that project/contract is profitable whilst reducing the cost of overtime.

Productivity:

For those organisations that are heavily task/contract focused, it is important to ensure that staff productivity is monitored to ensure the organisation is providing an efficient and profitable service.

Measuring productivity varies from organisation to organisation, but generally focuses on measuring the time and/or cost of completing an activity (e.g. “packing”) or outputs (e.g. “widgets made”). Advanced workforce management solutions provide technology that enable staff to “Book onto” a task/activity and/or the number of outputs generated within that time-frame.

This real-time information is used by Operation Managers to identify non-productive areas, investigate and implement plans to improve efficiency such as training, technology or process improvements. From a finance perspective, managers gain valuable insight into the costs of production, activities and overall in terms of fulfilling contracts.

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Additional Modules within Workforce Management

Often Time and Attendance solutions capture data via card or biometric devices. Many organisations see the benefit in using a single system to manage not just attendance but also access to the building and secure areas. The advantage of using one card (or storing one biometric template) is obvious and so some workforce management providers have an Access Control module to facilitate this.

Visitor Registration is also a logical extension to workforce management so that a single system can track all people within the organisation (full time, part time, contractors, visitors etc) for the purposes of security, health & safety and roll-call (in case of fire).

Some providers also have a Lone Worker module so that staff who are remote or visit customer sites can be tracked to ensure their safety and also enable remote attendance recording.

Those organisations with varying demands (over the period of a day or week) often want to optimise their shift patterns so that they align with business demand. This often yields significant savings by eliminating “dead time” (where staff are at work but have nothing to do) and overtime (where lack of planned resource to meet demand requires overtime or agency staff). Workforce Design solves this complex problem by ensuring that requirements are met whilst considering fatigue, risk, human factors and legal requirements.

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In conclusion, Workforce Management solutions enable organisations to become more efficient though effective planning, accurate recording, automation, decision support and analytics. However, few are able to meet the breadth and depth of functionality required to address all aspects of workforce management.

HFX provides a complete suite of next generation cloud workforce management solutions. 

For more information contact us

 

Barnfather

Barnfather Wire, the UK’s largest independent wire production company, produces a broad range of specialist drawn wire products to the highest possible standards. From its state-of-the art plant in the West Midlands, Barnfather Wire can provide product from stock and manufacture bespoke to customers’ individual requirements.  One of the company’s most notable achievements was to supply the wire used to create the stems of the 888,264 poppies for the stunning ‘Blood Swept Lands and ‘Seas of Red’ Armistice displays at the Tower of London in 2014.

Ever-expanding company requires agile technology

Since starting out in 2007, Barnfather Wire’s friendly, professional service, quick turnaround and honest approach have created a flourishing business that today has a loyal client following from blue chip companies supplying some of the world’s biggest brands to small and medium British manufacturers.  Success is down to just 46 individuals who combine extensive hands-on industry experience with innovative technology across all parts of the business as Dean Horton, Works Director at Barnfather Wire explains:

“We have already achieved incredible things with a relatively small number of talented people but we are a growing business that requires sophisticated technology to support us and take us to the next level. Earlier this year, we took the decision to focus on improving the efficiency and accuracy of some of our most critical workforce management processes and set about searching the marketplace for an innovative, fully automated solution.”

Wages are top priority
Barnfather Wire has recently invested in AUTOTIME’s cloud-based Biometric Time & Attendance system Vanquish to replace the company’s existing clocking in-and-out system that was extremely difficult to use and failed to deliver accurate readings of employee attendances and absences.  This had a hugely negative impact especially when it came to calculating the staff’s weekly wages.  Dean continued:

“Before Vanquish, every Monday morning would be spent working with a colleague from the accounts department to finalise everyone’s pay packet.  The old clocking system was highly ineffectual because it regularly over-clocked and you couldn’t even read the cards very well.  Now, thanks to the simplicity of the Vanquish solution, the whole payroll process is so much quicker, down from half a day to just half an hour.  Even better, I can do it by myself and have it all done and dusted before 9.30am in the morning.”

Real-time information all in one place
Barnfather Wire selected AUTOTIME primarily for the ease of use of the Vanquish system.  Staff use it to clock in and out by simply placing their hand over the Vanquish biometric hand reader terminals when they start and finish work.  Then, Dean and his two colleagues from the accounts team use the single, integrated solution to capture and store all information relating to employees, their shift patterns and pay details.

Dean added, “Having information all in one place is one of the major benefits of deploying the Vanquish solution.  It’s fast and gives us vital, real-time information on shifts and pay along with critical absence data such as holidays and sickness. We can even add our own comments and attach important records such as disciplinary notes to build a living virtual library and valuable audit trail. At the click of a button, we have a clear view of our end-to-end time and attendance activities.”

Scheduling up for efficiency
For example, when it comes to scheduling Barnfather Wire’s employees, Dean can log into the cloud-based system from anywhere to allocate shifts quickly and efficiently, track the number of hours each staff member has actually worked and reconcile them against the original planned schedules.  If an employee does not turn up on the day, is sick or on holiday, he is able to move people around and deploy them to areas that need extra support, versatility which Dean believes is invaluable to keeping the company agile and dynamic at all times.

Spotting trends for improved decision-making and faster results
The ability to record and monitor accurately the number of hours worked along with absences like sickness or holidays makes it easy to identify trends that aid improved decision-making.  For example, the Vanquish system will automatically alert Dean to recurring incidents out of the ordinary such as if an employee regularly calls in sick on Mondays or Fridays or leaves early. Being forearmed with this type of information means Barnfather Wire can proactively assess the situation, take remedial action, if necessary, or provide the additional support that staff need before employee morale or efficiency levels suffer.

“Introducing automation into our organisation has yielded impressive results.  Just four months after going live with the new Vanquish system, we feel in complete control of our time and attendance activities, have made tangible time savings and improved payroll accuracy beyond our expectations.  The AUTOTIME team have been fantastic.  They even configured the solution with our four main shift patterns to ensure we were up and running in no time. There’s still a lot to learn but the success of the implementation so far is a real motivating factor.  Who knows what more we can achieve in another six months?”

About Barnfather Wire

Barnfather Wire is the UK’s largest independent wire production company.  From its West Midlands plant, it manufactures a broad range of drawn wire products to the highest possible standards. It provides products from stock or bespoke to customers’ individual requirements.

One of Barnfather Wire’s most notable achievements was to supply the wire used to create the stems of the 888,264 poppies for the ‘Blood Swept Lands’ and ‘Seas of Red’ Armistice displays at the Tower of London in 2014.

For more information, visit www.barnfatherwire.co.uk or Contact us

 

 

 

Drayton Manor

Drayton Manor Theme Park in Staffordshire welcomes over a million visitors every year and is home to a variety of exciting attractions with roller coasters, a 15-acre zoo and Thomas Land.  Considered by many to be the ‘ultimate family day out’, Drayton Manor has received numerous awards that recognise the company’s inclusivity such as ‘Best Attraction for Children’ and ‘Access for All’ along with Certificates of Excellence from TripAdvisor in four consecutive years.  There is also an on-site hotel.  The four-star 150 bedroom Drayton Manor Hotel features executive rooms, presidential suites and 15 Thomas & Friends™ rooms, as well as two bars, two restaurants plus The Grill Inn, adjacent to the hotel.

Complex requirements need a reliable and robust solution

The scale and diversity of Drayton Manor requires a large number of staff to provide an excellent visitor experience and operate other complementary on-site services such as conferences and events and a popular education programme.  The theme park’s 750 staff – regularly reaching 800 during the peak summer season – are employed in a broad range of roles from front-line guest services at ticket points, at catering and retail outlets and in the hotel to maintaining buildings, grounds and keeping the rides safe and attending to behind the scenes administration and marketing.  Managing them all and ensuring they are paid correctly, on time, and in line with National Pay and European Work Time Directives is a critical success factor.

Clare Beasley, Director of People at Drayton Manor takes up the story, “Running a theme park of this magnitude is a complex business and requires sophisticated technology to simplify the whole process of knowing how many people you have on-site at any one time and then reconciling this information to payroll quickly, accurately and efficiently.”

Fast, comprehensive real-time information from a solution that is easy to use

Drayton Manor first turned to AUTOTIME, a division of HFX over eight years ago in 2010 and has recently re-invested in the company’s real-time Biometric Time & Attendance system Vanquish.  Clare continues: “As Drayton Manor grew and more staff were employed, we considered different ways of managing our employees but nothing matched the automated approach to scheduling that Vanquish offers.  The software is so easy to use both for our team leaders and for our people on the ground.  It’s fast, gives us vital, real-time information on holidays, time off in lieu and other absences, allows us to create and download valuable reports in an instant and we also benefit from AUTOTIME’s constant innovation in the product. In a nutshell, all this so why would we want to change?”

Controlling costs and gaining efficiencies with Rostering

Today, Clare and her team use Vanquish for Time & Attendance and are beginning to roll-out the system for rostering purposes, a move Clare believes will help Drayton Manor to “control costs better and gain efficiencies” by minimising the risk of overpayments.  All staff use Vanquish to clock in and out whether they work in the park, the zoo, in the hotel or in back office functions.  They simply place their hand over one of the 14 Vanquish biometric hand reader terminals when they start and finish work and whenever they leave the premises for breaks or other business reasons.

Around 40 managers rely on Vanquish to view their own teams’ activities and keep track of their weekly hours to make sure staff are not falling below the National minimum wage threshold and comply with European Work Time Directives. For example, they can check absences such as any accrued Time Off In Lieu (TOIL) and make sure it is booked in for the relevant member of staff.  Clare’s team has recently started to expand the Vanquish solution further by exporting data from the hand reader terminals directly into Drayton Manor’s corporate Sage Snowdrop payroll system to accurately track the hours that staff work.

Saving time, increasing accuracy and better Compliance

Clare sums up the benefits: “Deploying Vanquish has released a series of valuable operational and business benefits.  Vanquish gives us good visibility of how many people we have on-site at any one time and shows who hasn’t turned up for work against the planned roster. This helps us spot any gaps that need filling and is invaluable for payroll purposes.  Automation reduces error and saves huge amounts of time.   What is more, the solution offers a robust audit trail, a complete history going back eight years.  This supports our compliance with important industry legislation and demonstrates our commitment to driving best-practice throughout the organisation.”

Automation increases productivity

The automation gained by from the intuitive solution has boosted productivity through tangible time and cost savings while the availability of dynamic, real-time data has improved the accuracy of timesheets to reduce absence, time theft and unnecessary overtime.

Clare concludes, “AUTOTIME offers top-notch technology and support to match.  From initial implementation to day-to-day guidance, we can ask any questions and know we will get answers straight away.  Moreover, the team is 100% focused on innovation and has even tweaked the system quickly and efficiently to suit our needs perfectly.   Quite simply, AUTOTIME is continually looking to push the boundaries of customer service and we really appreciate that.”

To find out more Contact us 

Contract Cleaning – cut Costs not Quality

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The market for contract cleaning has increased over the last 2 years but that is where the good news ends… The increase in demand has created an increase in competition (some estimates put this at up to 40,000) putting already slim margins (averaging 4%) under pressure.

Safeguarding that 4% is the over-riding concern among many charged with leading the business whilst balancing this with the need to win contracts and grow the business.

Many in the sector have already been burnt by the vanity of growth over sanity of profit and recognise the need to keep a strong handle on costs but with strong competition are struggling to find anything left to save and are in danger of cutting too far and risking Quality and Reliability which can turn into a spiral of cancelled contracts.

The secret to many within this and other sectors is to borrow some of the lessons from Amazon (their international margins are not very far off from contract cleaning) who relentlessly focus on efficiency whilst providing excellent customer service.

The focus is never about cutting the service they provide, but the internal focus on simplification, automation and efficiency of the internal activities that deliver the service.

Automation though technology enables organisations to eliminate much of the administration and paperwork whilst enabling them to get real insight into their organisations performance and profitability -or otherwise- of contracts. It provides real-time information enabling quick decisions and adjustments to be made to keep the business on track.  The impact of this cannot be underestimated, it enables early intervention, not a retrospective post-mortem. This is not just simply about profit or efficiency but also tracking quality and outcomes. The importance here is that poor quality or reliability will at some point turn into customer attrition and is therefore lead factor and you cannot prevent what you can’t predict.

However, the rush to implement IT systems should be kept in check. Software solutions will deliver enormous benefits, but not by themselves! Software isn’t a miracle cure nor a mind reader for your organisation. You need to invest not just money but critically time to ensure that the software delivers to your objectives.

Before rushing there will be a need to review the processes being automated; A key objective should be to simplify these processes and methods. Simplification and clarification of processes is a precursor and will yield positive returns. Often organisations are unaware of the growth in complexity of processes and contracts as there is very little visibility (often as paperwork creates “data islands”).  Secondly if you do not understand in detail your processes then you have no hope of any software replicating them. Thirdly complex processes will impact on the solution, the cost and the implementation of the solution.

Start small. An expensive ERP solution might seem attractive, but will it really address your key pain points or just replicate or – worse – make operations even more complicated.

Be focused. What’s your greatest cost? In most organisations your greatest cost is your people. Automating pay through Time and Attendance will significantly improve efficiency, accuracy and savings by removing payroll errors, fraud and overpayments.

But there is more to be gained by Time and Attendance than simply automation, the ability to track employees at each client site enables quality of service by providing real-time updates. With real-time attendance information you can mitigate non-attendance by deploying other resources ensuring that the customer is not impacted by absence – this level of quality assurance keeps you at the top of the contract pile while others are discarded through poor reliability.

Avoid IT complexity. Many organisations are going lean and demanding cloud/SaaS solutions to avoid the complexity and overhead of managing the solution internally. SaaS also brings its own financial rewards as well by spreading the cost and providing Pay As You Grow payment models.

Download our Attendance Recording Product Sheet