Time and Attendance: 5 Key Considerations for Data Collection (Clocking and Access Control Devices)

Choosing the right time and attendance system is often a detailed and exhaustive process for many organisations, however, often the selection of the key means of data entry (clocking and access devices) receives much less attention and often the choice offered by any one vendor is limited. However, this is a critical aspect of the overall solution; without it the system cannot provide any of the benefits and ROI that it was procured to achieve.

Indeed, the main issue we find when consulting for companies is that the data collection devices do not meet the needs of the organisation. Often the issue isn’t that the device does not work, rather it doesn’t meet the specific needs of the organisation. The needs can be divided into 5 categories:

  1. High Trust vs Low Trust

Each organisation has its own “trust-level” which whilst not formalised has developed over time and in response to any abuses (perceived or actual) that the organisation has identified. Within Time and Attendance, these tend to centre on “Buddy Punching” where a colleague clocks in/out on behalf of an absent employee and “Time Theft” where overtime hours are “inflated” and lateness is under-reported or “deflated”. The type of device selected needs to address the trust-level requirements of the organisation.

High Trust Data CollectionLow Trust Data Collection
Self Service (e.g. via web)Biometric Devices (Finger/Hand/Palm/Face/Iris)
PINMobile Applications with Geotracking
Card 
Telephony 

2. Limited vs Extensive Functionality

When investing in data collection devices for Time & Attendance, there are two errors that can be made in selection: The first is “tunnel vision”  where significant sums are invested in “single purpose” devices when they could have improved productivity and communication through “multi-functional” devices that can capture more data and provide information and self-service functionality to staff. The opposite is also true where organisations over-reach in purchasing much more expensive devices that can do everything, but in reality, the requirements are limited. Each organisation is different and should consider whether the additional functionality will be beneficial to the organisation – some of the main areas to consider are listed below:

FunctionalityBenefit
Task/Productivity RecordingProductivity Improvements
Job TrackingRecharging and/or costing improvements
Access ControlRestrict access to sensitive physical locations
Self ServiceReduction in queries to HR/Payroll
Temperature ChecksInfection control.
Communicatione.g. vacant shifts, overtime requests
  

3. Hostile vs Neutral Environments

Another aspect of device selection relates to the physical environment where the devices will be located. The device may look great but if it is a factory with high dust/oil and rough treatment by staff then it will not last or worse will not function at all. Similarly, in food manufacturing environments where washdowns are common, an IP rated device is a must. A simplified guide of the types of devices for each environment is listed below:

Hostile EnvironmentsNeutral Environments
Ruggedized casing (Robust Environment)Finger
IP Rated (Washdowns/outside building)Face
Hand Readers (Dirty, Dusty, Oil)Card
Proximity Readers (contactless)Palm

4. Low vs High Hygiene

Hygiene has always been critical for many industries (e.g. Food Manufacturing) but is now being more widely considered due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Even before this, it is best practice – and cost effective – to consider infection control within any business (Each year Flu costs UK organisations £1.35 billion due to 7.6 million). Some devices are more prone to infection spread than others.

Low HygieneHigh Hygiene
FingerIris
Hand readerFace
CardPalm
 Prox
 *Temperature validation

5.  Local vs Remote

Companies also need to consider whether their staff are working remotely as this impacts on data collection choices. By remote this maybe working from home, at a client location, in a construction site or remote office that isn’t connected to the internet. Another consideration is whether the device will be connected to local software or cloud software.

LocalRemote
Lan based unitsTelecheck
Self ServiceMobile Application
Local PCsDevice with 3G enablement
 Device with “outbound” data transfer
 Mobile-battery backed units

Summary:

The right device is often the result of combining and prioritising the choices in response to each of the 5 areas detailed above. There are always trade-offs to be made during the selection process, but the wrong choice can seriously impact both the successful adoption of the solution and the value derived. It is also not a “one size fit” all approach. Within many organisations there are different cohorts (e.g. office staff, manufacturing staff, logistics) and environments, each with specific requirements that differ from other environments and cohorts, so a “mix and match” approach may well be appropriate in these situations. Again, with each solution, it is important to consider costs, benefits, GDPR and practicality in deciding on a specific device.

Challenges:
There is a huge range of devices on the market, with new ones appearing each month. Biometric devices alone encompass Fingerprint, Finger Vein, Face, Hand, Iris and Palm. There also over 100 different types of card formats available and often not all are supported by a single device manufacturer.

The challenge though is a) selecting the right device and b) the lack of choice offered by many time and attendance/workforce management providers.

The Solution:
A similar challenge was solved many years ago within the IT market with regard to Printers. Organisations wanted to be able to choose their printer independently of the software (e.g. Word processor) they used. Their requirements differed between departments; for instance, marketing would need a high-quality colour laser printer, finance might want a fast monotone laser and home workers could function perfectly well with an inkjet solution. They wanted to mix and match and avoid being “locked in” by the software provider.  The solution was a “printer driver” that provided middleware between the software and the hardware.

HFX have taken a similar approach with EveryOneCloud which provides middleware between any device and any software solution. It currently integrates with hundreds of devices (increasing each month) and enables organisations to mix and match their devices across their different environments and cohorts. It also means that customers are not locked into a specific software or hardware vendor and can change either one without impacting on the other. This smart approach enables organisations to be agile and adaptive.

The EveryOneCloud solution does not simply provide integration, but manages the devices, error management, secure template propagation as well as provides asset location and tracking. The solution can also enrich or transform data on demand to provide additional information in real-time.

Customers can also take advantage of the HFX Hardware Deployment and Support Service to both install and maintain the device estate through our UK wide engineering teams.

HFX Services:
Device Consultancy
Integration Services
EveryOneCloud Middleware
Hardware Deployment
Support and Maintenance Services

 

Top 5 Customer Requests during Coronatimes

Top 5  Customer Requests during Coronatimes

Here at HFX we are proud to have a strong engagement with our 1,500 customers and we receive regular requests for additional functionality to help them leverage even more benefit from our suite of Cloud solutions.  

During “Coronatimes” these customer requests have very much focused on a) helping the  organisation manage the workforce during lockdown and b) help them prepare for the return of staff whilst keeping colleagues safe.

We’ve collated the top 5 requests which we have already delivered to customers or are in an advanced stage of production:

  1. Touch free devices
    Managing hygiene and reducing physical “touch points” is a key focus for many of our customers. This remains the number one request and we responded by delivering contacless face recognition devices as an alternative to traditional hand or finger based devices. For those customers with card-based devices we have updated our HexOne device to make it fully touch free. So, whether customers require card or biometrics, we can provide both touch-free basis.

  2. Homeworker
    Those organisations who have had to rapidly manage remote working, wanted the ability for colleagues to not only record time, but also specify a configurable set of reasons and/or locations (e.g. whether they were “home working”, “Self Isolating”, “Recovering”, “Volunteering”) to enable the organisation to better serve and manage their workforce.

This along with time management is proving invaluable as we see work patterns vary radically especially those with children who are looking to either compress or extend their working week depending on individual circumstances.

3. Enforced Distancing Mode

With rules around social distancing being required even at work, the question posed by customers was how do we enforce this with employees queuing to clock in at the device?

The solution we came up with is an update to our HexOne device that enforces a countdown for x seconds after each employee has swiped. This removes any incentive for employees to tailgate their colleagues clocking in/out.

4. Temperature Testing

We suspect this requirement will rapidly climb to number 2 over the coming weeks. The question posed was “How can we identify any symptomatic colleagues at the earliest opportunity to mitigate risks of transmission”.

Our latest “touchless” time and attendance device incorporates temperature testing and alerting. Both the individual and manager are notified so that appropriate action can be taken (isolation, track and trace etc).

5. Track & Trace and Monitoring

At number 5 are actually two joint requests; one which enables organisations to identify any colleagues who might have come into contact with an affected colleague (e.g  at a clocking device) and secondly for those customers without our HexOne device (see number 3,) the ability to monitor that distancing is being adhered to by colleagues at non HexOne clocking devices.

What is most interesting about the list is the ingenuity and determination of our customers and business in general to overcome what might appear to be insurmountable challenges, the ability to embrace change and find innovative solutions to enable us all to get back to work.

Whilst we should not underestimate the challenges ahead, neither should we underestimate the tenacity and ingenuity of British business.  

Why Coronatimes are accelerating Cloud Adoption

Why “Coronatimes” are accelerating Cloud Adoption

We have already seen a steady adoption and migration to Cloud Solutions for the last 5 years as organisations seek to become more agile and less reliant on their own IT infrastructure. However, the radical change in working brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated the adoption of Cloud solutions as organisations rush to adapt to a New World of Work.

Even before the outbreak, there were many benefits of Cloud based solutions which are worth exploring in detail;

WHY CLOUD?

Cloud based solutions are typically quicker to implement as they require no software to be installed, reliance upon internal IT or procurement of additional servers. Typically, this means that an organisation will achieve a faster ROI (Return On Investment) whilst reducing the cost of ownership. Further still SaaS Cloud solutions are an operating cost (rather than CAPEX which is the case with on-premise solutions), enabling organisations to conserve their cash and align the costs to the benefits obtained. SaaS Cloud solutions often ‘payback as they go’ out of the benefits they derive meaning the monthly cost is actually zero as a net effect to the company.

Cloud solutions are easier to support as suppliers can resolve queries quicker without the need to attend site. With automatic updates, the organisation also benefits from the latest security and feature updates ensuring the solution is always secure and feature full.

Most suppliers offer “Up-time” levels (the time that solution is available for users) that far surpasses that which could be provided by internal support. This is because they leverage £100m hosting facilities with highly redundant systems and failover which ensures the solution is running 247. This reduces – and almost eliminates – downtime that hitherto could impact on staff productivity.

However, perhaps one of the biggest benefits of Cloud solutions is the agility that they provide their host organisations and staff. Because the solution is provided via the cloud and not on installed at your office, it provides flexibility for organisations to move or bring online additional offices without the additional headache of IT. It also enables staff who are working from home/remotely with the ability to access the solution anywhere levelling-up the access to essential tools wherever staff are based.

SUPPORTING THE TRANSITION TO HOME WORKING

All these are compelling arguments in the best of times, but during “Coronatimes” moving to the cloud is not simply beneficial but now essential. Those organisations that invested in Cloud solutions have found the imposed “home working” to be relatively seamless with staff able to access the same applications from home as they would at work. Contrast this with organisations who retain legacy systems and are frantically trying to find “work-arounds” or simply making do without the key systems that hitherto were fundamental to employee productivity in the workplace.

However, this approach is short-sighted. It assumes that within a few weeks, maybe a few months things will return to normal. This is flawed on two counts, firstly some form of lock-down and home-working is likely to be mandated for perhaps up to 6 months according to the Deputy Chief Medical Officer. But more importantly it assumes that everything will eventually return to normal.

PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER CORONAVIRUS

The onset of Coronavirus is not just an “unprecedented” event but one that will define society and the world of work long after its health and economic impacts have receded. Whilst BC (Before Coronavirus) and AC (After Coronavirus) have just started to enter our lexicon, we can expect these terms will be used to describe the many changes that are being made due to Coronavirus and will continue to persist particularly in how we conduct business and work together.

Before Coronavirus I was not a fan of home-working, but our cloud-based solutions have made the transition seamless and the fears that this would impact communications, culture and management have so far proved groundless. In fact, communication and productivity has actually improved and our cloud solutions have brought people closer together. We use our own cloud-based Time and Attendance tools so that colleagues can log their time and share their availability, and this has not just resulted in home working but also flexible working.

As the many of us move to Home and Flexible working and discover that with the right cloud-based tools this not only brings benefits to colleagues but also to the organisation we can expect that for many it will continue long after Coronavirus.

So, organisations, should not be looking for short-term fixes or work-a-rounds but actively preparing for the New World of Work, by investing solutions that are cloud based and accessible and, enhancing their support for remote/home working by implementing Scheduling and Time & Attendance to ensure that management, communication is not only maintained but enhanced and improved.

To find out more about HFX and our solutions please call 03333 44 7872, email sales@hfx.co.uk or visit http://www.hfx.co.uk

Time & Attendance Managed Service

Creating new Time & Attendance payment rules, adding new absence or adjustment reasons, restructuring your org hierarchy or simply creating new working patterns.

With HFX’s Imperago these were made immeasurably simpler, however we recognise that many of our clients simply don’t have the time or in-house resource to make these changes or often don’t feel confident doing this themselves.

OUR EXPERTISE

HFX Managed Service is a supplementary service available to clients to help with these and other administrative tasks. After all, HFX are the experts when it comes to HFX software.

Based on the same simple pepm (per employee per month) pricing, HFX can now offer you their expertise in ensuring you always get the best from your system.

AUTOMATIC ALERTS

No more ‘work arounds’ or using the wrong reason code because you haven’t created the one you really need or managing exceptions as a result of the wrong pattern being worked.

Simply submit a request via the support portal and your request will automatically log the request and alert the HFX team.

If you are interested in how HFX can help you with:

  • Managing working patterns
  • Creating new adjustment reasons
  • Maintaining the org hierarchies
  • Adding a new device
  • Template setup and distribution management
  • Visitor and Contractor management
  • Mapping new pay-codes
  • Managing public holiday calendars
  • End user training

Just get in touch! *terms & conditions apply

Call 03333 44 7872, email sales@hfx.co.uk or visit http://www.hfx.co.uk

Visitor Screening

  1. Track visitors and proactively manage car park
  2. Automatic notification to host of visitor arrival
  3. Cloud and Multi-site solution
  4. Full Auditing for security
  5. Works with existing corporate ID cards or used without
  6. Full Mustering and Roll call capability
  7. Registration via Tablet, PC, Kiosk and through reception
  8. Seamless integration with Workforce Management and Access Control
  9. Card Printing Bureau service including photo and branding.

HFX’s development team has been able to accelerate the testing and release phases of EveryOneCloud’s Visitor Registration Screening Questionnaire. The Screening functionality enables companies to predetermine site visitors’ eligibility prior to turning up on-site; this a crucial element in the current climate.

Resource planning during Coronatimes

The most common challenge for almost every organisation during these “coronatimes” is demand forecasting and resource planning.

Almost every business is effected with some reporting increased demand for their services or product whilst many reporting significant drops in orders.

To add more pressure, the coronavirus is likely to create unprecedented absences of up to 20% of your workforce.

So businesses are having to plan and model the potential for significant fluctuations in demand and the potential that 20% of their workforce will not be available for work.

This requires a significant amount of modelling and analysis. Just creating one model can take as long as a week to produce, but with such uncertainty around the impact of coronavirus there is a need for many models with differing assumptions. As the picture becomes clearer these models need updating based on revised assumptions and estimates.

Planning for the future has never been so precarious and now more than ever is the need for instant analysis, modelling and assessments.  


Two frequent questions are;

What if my business suffers a 30% reduction in orders? How many staff would I need, what shift patterns would they work to cover gaps in delivery?

What if 20% of my staff were off sick at any one time? What shift patterns make the most of the remaining staff, how many staff would I need to cover 20% absence over the next 3 months?

These complex calculations require more than a knowledge of the business, they require a tool that can rapidly provide detailed analysis, costing and optimised shift patterns based on the requirements or predictions provided. Some tools take months to implement and require extensive training and configuration.

However, HFX has developed “Workforce Design” that not only can be implemented in a day, provides real-time analysis of “what if” predictions and during these coronatimes, HFX is offering a consultant lead remote session using the tool to model your scenarios for you, eliminating the need for any training. The other benefit to business is that this service (time limited) will provide you with a 50 page analytics report (produced by Workforce Design) and guidance for a fixed price without the need for subscription or any on-going cost.