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Transforming Workforce Management

Companies leverage new technologies to improve their bottom lines. This Is a special advertising supplement sponsored by Ceridian Corp.

Sunday, May 1, 2011
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Some believe there are two universal truths when it comes to the workforce:

1. The labor force is, more often than not, an organization's single largest expense; and

2. It's also the most controllable cost.

For many years, most efforts in workforce management (WFM) were directed at "getting the check right" -- however, a changing technology landscape, complex pay and scheduling requirements and mounting pressure for labor compliance require that workforce-management vendors do more.

Employers today, using current-generation technology, have the opportunity to deliver an end-to-end solution with a superior user experience to:

* Improve labor deployment by allocating labor resources according to demand, reducing over- and under-scheduling while respecting employee schedule constraints. 

* Connect and automate manual processes using a single, end-to-end HCM solution, reducing form costs and business-cycle time.

* Mitigate labor compliance risk by increasing the accuracy and visibility of time and labor data while automating the enforcement of schedule and pay rules.

Ultimately, these advances in WFM technology and design are enabling incrementally more value than ever before, and can significantly enhance client profitability.

Changing Technology

As the workforce management domain has matured, the technology available and user expectations have both changed significantly. Previously, developers focused primarily on functionality, with users expected to adapt to the limitations of the program they were using.

Now, leading applications are built with the end-user experience held paramount. Users have heightened expectations for application performance and usability, which ultimately determine user adoption.

Inflexion Advisors' Mark Stelzner comments, "Until recently, workforce management had been a highly commoditized space, but this emerging technology ... is reinvigorating it."

Stelzner's comments have been echoed across the industry as recent advances in technology have enabled workforce-management solution providers to deliver significant enhancements in speed, security, scalability and overall user experience.

User Experience

What happened to allow these advances in workforce-management technology to emerge? According to David Ossip, the CEO and president at Dayforce, the emergence of Rich Internet Application (RIA) development platforms such as Microsoft Silverlight now allow programmers to improve and deliver the end-user experience at a much lower cost than previous options allowed. Using platforms like Silverlight, workforce-management providers deliver on manager and employee expectations for a system that is:

* Intuitive and easy to use;

* Responds instantly to user commands; and

* Provides data visibility and notifications in real time.

By designing systems around these expectations, with a seamless user experience in mind, vendors are able to achieve higher levels of user adoption, while also providing downstream savings in the form of reduced training and implementation costs.

"Of all the enterprise-wide solutions employers use -- payroll, ERP, HRIS, etc. -- the workforce-management solution touches every employee multiple times per day," says Howard Tarnoff, senior vice president and general manager of workforce management at Ceridian. "To be effective, workforce management must be comprehensive [and] quick to deploy, and must offer very intuitive user interfaces. No one is trained to use an ATM, and the same should be true of workforce-management technology. The good solutions have an impact on a manager's proactive ability to control labor costs, to have the right people doing the right thing at the right time while serving the employers constant need to comply with today's myriad of complexities."

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Model

"The marketplace is now accepting SaaS, as 30 percent of organizations currently outsource or use a hosted application," Ossip says, adding that the number is expected to double to more than 60 percent by 2013.

There are many powerful economic forces and business realities leading companies to choose the SaaS model. SaaS can help businesses lower their software expenses while simultaneously freeing IT resources to refocus on other business initiatives. SaaS-provisioned solutions also offer a quicker return on investment, delivering a net business benefit sooner than traditional, on-premise applications. Enterprise software buyers now recognize these factors can mean a much shorter time between the decision to select a solution and the realization of the decision's business benefits. 

Under the SaaS model, the absence of a license fee usually means no large upfront capital expenditure to subtract from the value of a software-selection decision. In addition, since implementation is more straightforward, SaaS enables much faster implementation timelines: 60 percent to 70 percent reductions in implementation times are common. For these reasons, companies that choose SaaS-architected solutions will often see a net benefit within the first fiscal year. This rapid speed-to-return makes the software selection decision much easier and enables IT departments to undertake multiple initiatives without depleting resources.

Seamless Integration

Jayson Saba, a research analyst in human capital management at Aberdeen Group who authored a November 2010 research report entitled A Guide for Implementing Best-in-Class Time and Attendance Strategies, says his research shows that the workforce-management industry is moving toward seamless integration -- and, for employers, that integration can really pay off.

"We found that, if an employer has scheduling with time-and-attendance integrated with payroll, [it is] likely to achieve best-in-class status," he says. "Those organizations are more likely to achieve gains in [payroll accuracy, tracked time accuracy and compliance improvement], which means they will save money. By automating from an Excel or paper-based system, they are much more likely to achieve best-in-class."

Saba says one critical factor in this trend is that the advent of SaaS and Web technology, in general, has made integrated human capital management (HCM) solutions, including workforce management, more affordable for organizations of all sizes. For example, in a case study featured in the Aberdeen Group research, within five years after implementing an automated time-and-attendance system, a retail chain doubled its head count, but it still takes less time and effort to process time sheets and payroll.

Automation

The automation of highly tactical and time-consuming manual processes is a major contributor to the returns companies receive from WFM implementations.

Saba comments, "Regarding HR, recruiting has slowed down and everything is driven by efficiencies. The glory days of hiring growth are no longer happening. Plus, the HR professional's duties have doubled or quadrupled. They need to automate. It's all driven by managing the data. We found that automation is the key differentiator in accurately tracking time worked, ensuring compliance with labor laws and legislation, and ensuring payroll accuracy."

Saba adds that key elements include integrating time-and-attendance with payroll, empowering the business manager and monitoring the effectiveness of the time-and-attendance strategy.

About 80 percent of employers in Aberdeen's research report said they are likely to automate time-and-attendance, and, as with other self-service solutions, it empowers the employees and often leads to increased morale and productivity.

Increasing employee engagement has a proven impact on company performance. Employees that interact with their work life online -- viewing schedules, swapping shifts and requesting time away, for example -- are better able to balance their time between work and home commitments, while Rich Internet Applications deliver the experience modern users expect.

"Employees can see when they work; they can easily swap shifts," Saba says. "Most people and managers would rather do it themselves, and that is spilling into the workforce."

Business-Cycle Compression

Alongside automation, the ability to deliver streamlined workflows throughout every aspect of workforce-management functionality is reducing the cycle time required to identify, analyze and act on business issues.

Tim Lynch, former group vice president of retail-operations support for a major supermarket operator, comments that, "Unlike traditional stand-alone solutions that keep data in virtual silos, these new solutions provide a comprehensive view of what is happening (or not happening) -- and, more importantly, what should be done about it.

"These solutions enable store managers and associates to become more efficient -- thus, allowing time for areas that are shortchanged today -- and to focus their attention on the most important things first, including monitoring Key Performance Indicators in real time and responding proactively."

Lynch adds, "Not only does this new technology make store operations more efficient, it also ensures that a carefully planned retail strategy is executed as intended in all stores."

Compliance

Ensuring compliance with increasingly complicated labor and pay requirements has traditionally been a burdensome and time-consuming process. Verification of labor compliance is not easily accomplished using manual tools and processes.

"Without a way to ensure compliance, retailers risk millions in fines and class-action suits, along with additional costs due to buddy punching and payroll discrepancies," Lynch says, adding that trying to monitor compliance with complex labor laws and union rules, and calculating payroll using manual systems such as paper time sheets, spreadsheets and stand-alone clocks, are both prone to inaccuracies and consume a lot of store- and corporate-management time.

Common management wisdom suggests, "If you can't see it, you can't manage it." This is particularly true when assessing labor compliance liability. Class-action wage-and-hour litigation is a growing concern across all industries, and rightfully so. The total value of the top 10 private settlements in 2009 was $363 million, up 44 percent over 2008 -- figures which continue to rise.

However, by implementing workforce management across the organization, companies are able to mitigate compliance risk by increasing the accuracy and visibility of time and labor data while automating the enforcement of schedule and pay rules. Modern WFM solutions are able to take even the most complex regulations -- in states such as California -- in stride, allowing managers to allocate more of their time to employees and customers.

Improved Labor Deployment and Hard Cost Savings

Perhaps the most compelling results of any workforce-management project are the hard-costs savings generated through improved labor deployment. Although managers generally understand that their labor-deployment decisions -- placing the right people in the right place, at the right time -- are critical to increasing profitability, they often lack the tools for operational execution.

However, experience has proven that managers, given the budgeting, forecasting, scheduling and time-tracking tools they require, can have a significant impact on operational performance.

In his role as group vice president of retail-operations support for a major supermarket operator with more than 2,500 stores and approximately 200,000 employees, Lynch observed the following hard savings from their successful implementation of an integrated workforce management solution:

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* Five percent retail-sales increase compared to control group stores' sales.

* Seven to 12 hour-per-week reduction in manager time spent on manual and disconnected processes (allowing them to spend more time on the floor with associates and customers).

* Approximately $450,000 savings per year from reduced form costs and simplified store survey and audit processes.

Retailers lead the way, yet the adoption of well integrated solutions has crossed vertical lines to services, manufacturing and other national and international sectors as well.

Live Clients Results

Ceridian's InView workforce management has helped employers such as the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles and Universal Care improve labor deployment, automate and connect manual processes, and mitigate compliance risk across their organizations. Furthermore, the ease of configuration and rapid deployment afforded by the SaaS model enabled both Universal Care and the YMCA to go live within four to six weeks of implementation.

YMCA of Metropolitan LA -- Managing Complex Schedule Needs

Leadership at the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles has implemented the InView Workforce Management system, and, according to Ed Stapleton, executive vice president for HR and risk management, it was a change the YMCA desperately needed.

"We are excited about many of the features," he says. "For one, the functionality of this type of system is really simple for our people to use. It's going to [relieve our supervisors from spending time] trying to manually calculate who worked what hours, and when."

Stapleton says moving to this technology will also meet the organization's needs from a compliance standpoint, so if it has employees going into an overtime status, or working too many hours without taking a break, the system will alert supervisors.

"Those are things we have been calculating ourselves," he says.

Stapleton says the most important feature of this technology is the scheduling module, which will really help the YMCA's operations folks.

"Half of our expenses are our people, and we are a service organization with a lot of different people doing a lot of different types of jobs," adds Heather Livernois, senior vice president and controller of finance for the organization. "And we need to be flexible enough to handle the different needs of those various types of work. We need to manage our people so they are working the appropriate shifts, for the right amount of time, and we've got all of that nailed down as well as we can."

Because time can now be collected three ways -- with clocks, computers and the interactive-voice-response system -- the system is "very flexible" and meets the organization's "real needs," says Stapleton, adding that the scheduling function, for example, gives the YMCA a wide look at who comes to work when, and whether the organization planned properly for the people it needs to be successful.

The YMCA also needed to be able to get clean, easy-to-understand reports that show the organization if and where it is using its people resources appropriately, freeing supervisors to concentrate on more mission-critical areas.

"Best of all, it seems, once you set it up the way you want, it almost does the work itself," Livernois says.

Universal Care -- Improving Accuracy and Accountability

Joseph Gulizia, CEO and president of Universal Care, which manages and owns long-term-care facilities in Ontario, Canada, says his company was looking for something cost-effective, but something that also could provide opportunities to find efficiencies while leveraging technology.

"We chose this technology to move away from the redundant manual systems and move to a system that is much more accurate," Gulizia says.

Like most companies in the people-care business, Universal Care has three daily shifts and, in some cases, employees were arriving late for their shifts. So, apart from automating its scheduling, Universal Care wanted to improve accountability by ensuring its staff arrived on time.

"This puts more accountability on the staff member and rewards those who are here on time regularly," he says. "That was something our own staff asked for, to make sure we had accountability in any workforce-management system."

Universal Care monitors attendance management every day because compliance with staffing is a major issue when it comes to caring for the elderly. Plus the system puts management in an enviable position because it enables managers and staff members to realize the negative impact that tardiness plays in providing care.

Prior to using its new workforce-management system, Universal Care's time-and-attendance was done manually, with staff signing in and signing out -- creating inconsistency and inaccuracy. But more than that, Gulizia says, it required the office manager to transcribe everything and re-input the data from a sheet of paper to the old in-house staffing application.

"We wanted to leverage technology, and building our own system would have been cost-prohibitive for a company with 150 staff," he says, noting that Universal Care actually employs someone full-time whose only job is to call people to fill a shift.

"Now, we are hoping to use workforce-management technology to use text messaging to streamline that sort of work," he says. "In our business, any administrative time we save allows us to invest back into our front-line staff and into providing care."

Conclusion

Today's most optimal workforce-management solutions improve labor deployment by automating manual processes while at the same time providing built-in labor compliance mitigation.

Perhaps most important, these new applications are integrated with a broader, more comprehensive HCM solution.

When considered as a whole, today's HCM solution, with workforce management, enables businesses to have more comprehensive coverage of their people than ever before.

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