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

 

Why Best of Breed is becoming the norm

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Best of Breed Workforce Management Solutions are now increasingly chosen over the traditional Best of Suite HCM providers.

Research by Navigo reveals that overwhelmingly (69%) choose a Best of Breed provider to meet their needs rather than a suite. It also discovered that 50% more organisations were “Very Satisfied” with a Best of Breed than those who purchased this as a module of HCM.

This maybe a sign that changes in the workforce are occurring more frequently and organisations need more agile and adaptable solutions. This seems to be confirmed by the study with the average age of a 5 years for a WFM solution compared with 7+ for HCM Suites.

Whilst a rapidly changing workforce environment may be a contributing factor, it is  cloud technology that is accelerating the move away from Best of Suite towards a new paradigm of “plug and play” applications in the cloud.

Historically Best of Breed applications where held back by limitations with integration. Many applications didn’t “play well” with other applications or even devices. But this is changing fast.

In the 1980’s your choice of printers was often dictated by the word-processor (or even computer) you purchased. But the introduction of “software drivers” removed this restriction and now with “plug and play” no-one worries about whether the printer they purchase will work with any of their applications.

This revolution in technology – largely forgotten – is being played out within modern cloud applications. Today we share content to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many other cloud platforms without even thinking about the enabling technology that seamlessly integrates these applications together.

Web and cloud integration technologies make integration simple, secure and in many cases real-time. Data flows seamlessly between applications and without the need for organisations to involve their IT departments.

Historically IT departments would spend significant internal resource trying to knit on-premise applications together to avoid users having to dual key data into separate applications. Now, many modern cloud providers provide integration plug-ins to other vendors without the need for any internal work. Likewise, the adoption of Single Sign on (SSO) standards has meant that user experience across platforms isn’t impacted.

This represents a watershed moment in vendor selection. Historically organisations had to weigh up the trade-offs between a fully integrated suite that didn’t quite meet their business requirements versus a Best of Breed option that didn’t quite meet the “joined up” experience that users required.

With next generation cloud “Best of Breed” applications removing this barrier, organisations no longer need to sacrifice business need over user experience.

It also enables organisations to adapt more quickly to changing situations and without the costly and long delays required to replace a monolithic application. If a specific solution cannot be adapted to the new way of working, then it can be replaced without needing to replace the entire suite.

Ultimately organisations are looking to become more agile and the new world of “Cloud Plug & Play” has enabled them to do just that.

To find out more about our cloud solutions visit HFX or Contact us

HFX partners with Wagestream

Innovative ‘earned income’ payroll provider teams up with HFX’s established workforce management solutions to provide staff with flexible, financial benefits

HFX, market leading provider of cloud-based SaaS flexitime and workforce management solutions, has announced a partnership with Wagestream, the first Get-Paid-As-You-Go provider accredited by the FCA. Wagestream allows workers to access their ‘earned income’ at any time during the monthly pay cycle and can be implemented by companies without impacting cash-flow, payroll or timekeeping processes. Experienced in workforce management for over 40 years, HFX’s solutions complement Wagestream’s platform by providing the tools to manage staff working hours efficiently to administer pay as you go payments.

Nicola Smart, COO of HFX said; “Our collaboration with Wagestream perfectly complements HFX’s focus on playing a key role in the new world of work, combining efficient workforce management with wellbeing and staff benefits.  By deploying our solutions companies can benefit from improved productivity, more motivated staff and higher retention as well as cost savings and improved profits.”

Andrew Fenwick, Enterprise Partnership Director at Wagestream said; “Our new pay concept enables companies to offer employees a benefit of remunerating them their ‘pay’ for short periods worked, whether for overtime or even a few days’ work, instead of waiting until the end of the month or taking out expensive loans.

“It is already popular in companies with high turnovers of lower skilled staff, where employee retention levels increase because they value having quicker access to their salary when they need it. Our vision is aligned with that of HFX’s in this new world of work – we will be able  to offer companies a true holistic workforce management solution where the efficient recording of hours is directly related to remuneration, enabling staff to take control of and manage their finances and working hours.”

Wagestream’s service benefits employers which operate large numbers of shift and temporary workers, in sectors such as hospitality, security, retail and manufacturing. HFX’s workforce management solutions have an established pedigree of providing solutions to manage working hours, shifts and rosters to meet legislation and ensure staff wellbeing.

About Wagestream

Wagestream allows all employees, both salaried and hourly, to have complete control over when they get paid. It effectively ends the stress caused by monthly pay cycles and prevents millions of UK workers suffering overdraft charges, credit card debt, or worst case, entering cycles of poverty caused by payday loans.

Wagestream is a social impact, charity backed platform, that has proven and significant retention, productivity and recruitment benefits for employers.

Find out more here https://wagestream.co.uk/ or Contact Us

Introducing A New Integration Paradigm

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Einstein stated that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” and for hfx this has become a mantra and even our core values are expressed by one word: simplify.

We follow this principle both in terms of our processes, methodology and vigorously within our cloud solution design and development.  The first challenge we tackled with Time and Attendance was the complexity of reflecting real world work rules within a simple and easy configuration that end users could quickly master and enable them to take complete ownership of the solution. The result was amazing; implementation time reduced from 9 months to 1 month enabling the customer to achieve accelerated ROI and significantly reduced costs of configuration and implementation.

This success gave us confidence to tackle the next challenge which was more nuanced but no less radical; solving the thorny issue of integration using Application Programming Interfaces.  As a group of seasoned developers with over 30 years’ experience of integration (and a combined list of over 250 interfaces developed under our belt) we looked at the fundamental issues with integration. We recognised that the issue had little to do with coding ability, language but everything to with mindset.

At a high level we recognise three key mindsets that pervaded all interface development characterised “The Solicitor Mindset”, “Pedantic Officialdom” and “S.E.P or Someone Else’s Problem” – Our analysis revealed all 3 mindsets in all 3rd party integrations we had ever seen and worked with historically. Each requires a little explanation to see how they manifest;

The Solicitors Mindset:

If you have ever had dealings with a solicitor (whether when buying/selling a house, Non-Disclosure Agreement etc) you will instantly recognise the legalise, Latin and jargon that seems to confuse rather than clearly communicate its purpose. Any attempt to simplify the text is met with a firm response by the solicitor that “Its not meant for you but for another solicitor”. This is a lazy excuse to avoid clarity and simplicity by relying on someone else with 7 years legal training to decipher text that could and should have been presented in a way that a lay person could understand. This same mindset influences the development of API’s with the argument being that the P stands for programming so there is no need to simplify the API as its not meant for anyone other than another programmer.

Pedantic Officialdom:

We’ve all had this when asked to fill out a form to change some information. Often you must enter the very same information they already hold and then when you hand it in you are told you’ve used the wrong form (often they have different forms to register new information versus amend existing information). When you fill in the correct form (which is almost identical to the other form) you are then told you must use blank ink rather than the blue or that your signature isn’t fully in the box provided (which is often too small) – I could go on, but you get the point. This very same approach is often applied to Application Interfaces. As with Pedantic Officialdom the whole purpose isn’t to make life easy for the consumer (or 3rd party) but a lazy approach to make it easier for the recipient.

Someone Else’s Problem:

Incapsulating and extending on both the previous mindsets is the overarching view that it is someone else’s problem to decipher and to comply with these pedantic and overly cumbersome rules. This approach to integration enables API’s to be created very quickly but the consequence is that they are dumb, brittle and difficult to work with and significantly increases the effort by the third party.

 A New Paradigm:

Overcoming these issues isn’t a question of technology, coding skills or even language, its harder than that because it requires a paradigm shift in thinking about the whole approach to integration.

However, as with all challenges we were confident with the right approach we could completely turn integration on its head to simplify work for 3rd parties and especially to our customers.

The first design principle we applied was that the API shouldn’t be developed for another developer, it should be developed so that a competent IT professional or implementer could consume the interface.  This principle ensures that we don’t make assumptions about who will be consuming the interface and a good test to ensure that the interface is a simple as possible (but no simpler).

The second design principle is that the API should be intelligent and not pedantic in terms of the calls into the API (for instance demanding a different call to add information versus amending information or refusing data based on lazy or pedantic rules).  If the new data requires the creation of associated or dependent information the API can automatically create this on the fly rather than simply failing. This simplifies the work for 3rd parties whilst reducing both manual entry and lazy rejection of data.

The third design principle was that the API should be easy to configure, so that if requirements change (e.g. some information previously sent IS no longer required) the API can ignore the data without the need for changes by the 3rd party. This ensures that the interface is flexible, and our solution can adapt to changes in data without the need for either the 3rd party or the interface to change. It builds in flexibility.

These 3 guiding principles enable a paradigm shift and focus all the intelligent development work within our solution making it simple to integrate from a 3rd party perspective. It turns integration on its head by making “integration our problem” rather than “Some Else’s Problem” and this changes the mindset with the result that issues are tackled and eliminated from the get go.

This approach rapidly increases integration time, reduces the need for testing and 3rd party development work. It also means that with a simplified approach to web services we can easily integrate legacy/on-premise third party products even if they are csv based using our rapid scripts that convert these into web service calls.

hfx announce MHR Integration

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HFX, a leading provider of SaaS flexitime and workforce management solutions, has successfully integrated its products with those of HR and Payroll experts MHR.  The integration has been developed using HFX’s Imperago RapiD methodology which provides a simple, fast and effective way to achieve deep bi-directional data transfer seamlessly via cloud APIs, eradicating the need for dual keying of data whilst keeping data secure and synchronised across platforms.

The integration means customers can benefit from a best of breed solution which combines HFX’s workforce management functions for managing staff working hours from shift pattern design, access control, and time & attendance with MHR’s market leading iTrent solution for HR, absence management and payroll, resulting in a more seamless user experience.

Nick Whiteley, Managing Director and Chief Solutions Officer at HFX explained: “One of our core values at HFX is to ‘simplify’. We follow this simplify principle vigorously within our cloud solution, resulting in 80% reduction in integration and implementation time. This means that our joint customers have a much shorter time to value when implementing our solutions.”

Anton Roe, Chief Executive Officer at MHR responded; “We’re delighted to join forces with HFX to deliver a fully integrated cloud solution which harnesses the power of our iTrent system.  Their easy to access API and straightforward approach to working with 3rd party products has ensured that the integration process has been fast and efficient, and ultimately our joint customers will benefit.”

Imperago RapiD

Based on three design principles, Imperago RapiD reduces integration times significantly with:

  • APIs designed for consumption by a competent IT professional or implementer, ensuring it is as simple as possible, but not simpler.
  • APIs that are intelligent when collecting data with automated, on-the-fly handling of associated or dependent data, reducing work for third parties and reducing manual entry and rejection of data.
  • APIs that are easy to configure, so that should requirements change, the API can ignore data no longer required, ensuring that the interface remains flexible.

For more information contact us

About MHR

MHR UK & Ireland is a specialist provider of HR and payroll software and services, helping organisations of all shapes and sizes to strengthen their core – their people. MHR combines the stability, expertise and proven methodologies of a long-established provider, with the innovative forward-thinking vision of an agile growing business, to provide a winning partnership to its customers and employees.

Across the fields of talent management, HR, payroll and business analytics, over a 1000 companies, from SMEs to large multi-national corporates, rely on us to help them drive performance. Customers include; Admiral, Cafcass, Sytner, Signet Group, Nandos, Laing O’Rourke, Wessex Water, University of Reading, Caterpillar UK, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Salvation Army, The British Transport Police and more.

mhr.co.uk

About HFX 

HFX cloud suite includes Imperago™ Time and Attendance, Access Control, Workforce Design, Annualised Hours and EveryOneCloud Attendance Monitoring/Location Management.

HFX Imperago solutions provide seamless integration with major HR and payroll systems. Highly customisable, HFX Imperago solutions can be configured to meet exact requirements and can support unlimited numbers of work patterns.

HFX is the leading provider of flextime™ in the UK.  Used by over 1400 customers across the UK, local authorities, other public sector bodies and commercial organisations benefiting from HFX solutions include: Home Office, Merck, Methodist Church, Dartmoor National Park, Adidas, Buhler Sortex Ltd, The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), Eaton Limited, MoD, National Farmers’ Union, Hertsmere Borough Council, North Lanarkshire Council, Exeter City Council, Isle of Man Government, MoJ, Met Police, Flintshire County Council, Office for National Statistics, UK Intellectual Property Office, NHS Business Services Authority, Science and Technology Facilities Council.