Implementation Considerations

 

 

When implementing a Time and Attendance system, what can you as a customer do to ensure a successful project?

Article by Peter Gilmer 
Long gone are the days of punching time in and out using bundy cards. The modern time and attendance systems are sophisticated with features such as finger scanning technology to authenticate the employee and the ability to create rosters dynamically. A new time and attendance system provides an automated award engine that interprets hours worked and applies agreed pay rules to determine payment. All these features provide a strong business case for implementation with labour cost control at the forefront, less time spent by line managers on transactional payroll and greater accuracy in payroll. All sounds great, but what are the types of activities you as a customer should undertake to ensure a smoother implementation experience and faster path to releasing the benefits of such a system.

 

Document your time and attendance rules

In an ideal world, the time and attendance rules may already be documented in an agreed and signed Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) which is followed to the letter of the law. Alternatively the rules may not be documented but all managers understand the rules and are applying them with 100% consistency. HR may have clearly documented and articulated any changes to those rules since first they were agreed. And finally, the Payroll team understand how to process the application of those rules.
 

However, in our experience, the ideal world does not exist, particularly if there is a manual process of managing time and attendance. The understanding of what has been agreed can be a mixture of signed EBA’s, manager’s interpretation of those rules and accepted current practice. Most HR departments don’t have time to police the application of agreed pay rules and variation happens for various reasons. In fact, the inconsistencies are only found when our clients decide to automate those rules though a time and attendance system. The rules must be clearly articulated in order to design, build and test a time and attendance system.

 

As an implementation partner, Presence of IT always advises our clients to understand their pay rules before the design phase if possible. This will save our customers considerable budget in ensuring the design, build and subsequent test phases of implementing the new system is focused. Not understanding your pay rules could trigger a lengthy design phase or extended build due to missing or inconsistent understanding of pay rules. Detailing the pay rules will also inform your business testing scope with greater clarity and confidence.

 

The most important component when articulating your pay rules is in making sure you have the right people in the room. In our experience, customers will always provide subject matter expert from the payroll team when pay rules require documenting. However, if as a customer, you are currently using a manual system for managing time and attendance then it is likely that you will have many different views of what rules are being applied. Ergo, you need to invite those different views into the room to ensure there is agreement about how you should pay your people in the new system. HR will have a view, line managers will have a view, employees will have a view and the current practices applied in the existing payroll system also must be taken into account.

 

Many customers are surprised when these different views are expressed and with the level of inconsistency that may exist. Working through these inconsistencies before design phase or during design phases can produce fantastic returns in ensuring a smoother build, test and deployment phases.

 

Engage your business in building the project

It won’t matter that you have set up the best project team, employed the best implementation partner and designed an incredible system if you have not engaged the business from the start. This is never so true than in implementing a time and attendance system where resistance is normally high, particularly from the operations area of the business where the impact is most visible.
 

An approach of ‘this project will happen so get onboard’ to operational Executives and Managers will not garner buy in. Involving these Executives and Managers at the outset of the project in areas such as defining the business case and project objectives will support a high level of business engagement. By asking the right questions and building an understanding of whether management clearly sees business value from the project’s outputs, ‘true’ commitment can be better elicited.

 

Furthermore, a time and attendance implementation will impact employees at multiple levels of an organisation. These impacts can be the result of changes made to policies, procedures, processes, functions, organisational structures and organisational culture to ensure the new system is fully leveraged and business objectives achieved.

 

Without a dedicated change, communications and training focus, the process of helping staff realise, adapt, accept and transition to a new environment has a high likelihood of failing.

 

If you engage an experienced implementation partner then you are almost guaranteed that the technology won’t fail you. Invariably the failure comes from lack of a definition of the way the new business process will work or the fact that people have not been trained to work in a different way. This is change management.

 
 

Think about how you would like to deploy

There is no single right way to deploy and each customer will be unique in how it deploys the solution. We have worked with customers that will firstly deploy to those areas of their business that return the greatest benefit. Where as other customers will deploy to a smaller site/division to gain the experience and reduce the risk of failure before moving to bigger sites/divisions.
 

To help a customer determine the deployment approach, there are a number of considerations such as the technology you have selected, the solution you have designed, the project objectives, business case and business readiness. A score card could be applied to each of these factors to facilitate a decision on what is deployed and when.

 

There will be merits in all approaches; however, what is true is that a big bang approach will only work for customers with a strong support model in place and a high level of engagement from the business.

 

The successful deployments are generally those that have focused on ensuring all users of the system have a huge amount of visible 1st level support from the day the system is turned on. This 1st level support is provided by users from the business who have been involved in testing the system and assisted with the definition of its supporting processes. This allows any immediate problems to be addressed quickly by someone the employee or manager knows. Acceptance of the system increases when problems are addressed quickly and learning gaps are plugged. These users should also play a greater role post the project implementation in ensuring the systems full potential is realised by the users.

 

Peter Gilmer is a Senior Project Manager with Presence of IT and has over 10 years experience in HR & Payroll transformation projects.