Strategic implementation of technology now available is saving HR executives and their organizations valuable resources in almost all areas. One place where it can provide important solutions is the time and attendance industry. Once a business has determined that automation of its time and attendance and other HR resource administration is needed, a method of delivery must be selected.
An organization can choose to implement its own automated system, or it can choose to outsource to an application service provider (ASP), whereby it leases the software from a third party, with access provided via the Internet.
Deploying a traditional client/server software package generally entails purchasing software, installing it and consistently maintaining it. This scenario involves up-front costs and a dedicated IT staff to track, acquire and deploy the most recent versions of the software, as well as to provide back-up, monitoring and constant upgrades to keep the system current.
A variety of data collection hardware can be purchased and installed at the customer site, from biometric and badge devices to time clock software accessed via a desktop PC.
Combinations of systems work well for some businesses. For example, a company might use a biometric device for hourly employees, where hours are submitted daily, and another device for submitting time sheets on a weekly basis for salaried employees. Whatever system an organization chooses, some form of data collection will be included, either hardware, software or a combination of both.
In contrast, utilizing an ASP service means an organization essentially rents the software application for a fee and accesses it via a Web browser. Thereís no server hardware to acquire, no up-front investment and no software to be installed, deployed or maintained. The ASP customer can interact with a remotely managed application at anytime through any Internet connection.
Data collection hardware is still optional, but with the ASP, the device is linked to the Web, so that clocking in and out still can be collected via a PC. However, data collection devices also can function well in environments where a PC isnít an option to all employees, such as in manufacturing or sales. In those situations, a badge terminal, telephone or personal digital assistant wireless device could be utilized.
The cost of client/server applications depends on several factors, including the number of employees, the number of sites and the data collection devices selected. A solution can range from as little as $2,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
An ASP solution, on the other hand, usually is very easily defined and enables a smoother, more predictable cost model for running applications over time. The cost of an ASP solution is based on the number of users on a monthly basis.
The major cost benefits of outsourcing include minimizing infrastructure costs; the bundling of up-front and ongoing costs into the monthly rental fee; and the minimization of pre-implementation application setup costs. The potential savings in up-front costs range from thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition, outsourcing eliminates the hassles of hardware procurement and software installation by expensive-to-retain IT personnel.
Whether buying and implementing a solution or outsourcing the function to an ASP, an organization will benefit from automating its time and attendance functions. Accuracy of reports will increase, time spent on payroll will decrease and ease of use for employees will increase.
Kyri McDonough is marketing specialist, Time Spot Inc., Tempe, Ariz., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vitrix Inc.