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Ability Beyond Disability Makes Great Strides in Labor Management

Health and Human Services Provider Replaces Manual Processes with a Cisco IP Phone-Based Time and Attendance System

After years of dealing with inaccuracies and inefficiencies caused by manual workforce tracking, Ability Beyond Disability made a decision to transition to an automated labor management solution.  At the time, manual processes burdened many of the organization's staff members on a daily basis.  The staff had to manually calculate and enter large amounts of data to transfer information from employees' paper timesheets into an electronic payroll system.  This error-prone, labor-intensive process was costing the company time and money, while decreasing employee job satisfaction levels.

With the end goal of becoming fully automated, Ability Beyond Disability set out to find a labor management system that would allow better monitoring of and reporting on workforce activity.  Although the organization's integration goals were straightforward, it had some non-traditional requirements for managing workforce time and attendance, due to the  nature of its business.

Ability Beyond Disability (formerly Datahr Rehabilitation Institute) provides health and human services for people with developmental and neurological disabilities.  The organization employs over 750 people and provides round-the-clock staffing at 30 Licensed Group Homes, as well as, regularly scheduled staff at 60 Supported Independent residences and many more employees support its community based work programs and activities.  Ability Beyond Disability maintains full office staff at their headquarters in Brookfield, Connecticut and at additional offices located in Mount Kisco, New York, providing one of the most extensive systems of support and services in the Northeast.

The goal of the organization is to enable individuals whose independent living skills are impaired by disability, illness, or injury achieve self-reliance at home, work, and in the community.  Ability Beyond Disability achieves this goal by providing comprehensive home, health, rehabilitation, transportation, and employment services.

Decision Factors and Initial Adoption
Running group homes, independent residences, day and work programs, and offices, Ability Beyond Disability faced complicated workforce scheduling and payroll processing issues, which often included reconciling varied time allocations and overtime payouts with its payroll system.  It was pleased to discover they could fully integrate their Cisco IP Phone system with the labor management solution.  Choosing the right software package meant meeting these goals with a single system.

The company made the decision to implement ExtendTimeTM, a private label version of NETtimeTM, a web-based labor management solution by Time Spot, Inc.  Time Spot is a leading provider of advanced time and workforce management solutions designed to help companies improve the tracking and utilization of labor resources.  Time Spot provides web-based, client-server and desktop time and labor management solutions that enable companies to better manage their payroll, human resources, and administrative costs.

ExtendTime was developed for the Cisco IP Phone by CalAmp (NASDAQ:  CAMP), formerly known as Vytek, a Cisco® AVVID (Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data) partner.  CalAmp is a communications technology and equipment provider that delivers a comprehensive range of communications access and content delivery products, services and solutions.  The company is a recognized leader in satellite DBS technology, WLAN 802.11 networks, software application development, embedded computing and enterprise mobility.

With the ExtendTime solution, Ability Beyond Disability eliminated manual tracking of labor data by leveraging the Cisco IP phone system they purchased.  In lieu of time clocks, employees can simply clock in and out via their Cisco IP telephone, regardless of whether they are onsite at a home or at their work area in the office.  Hand scanners provide clock in capabilities at the commercial offices.  For those employees that do not have Cisco phones, access to the system is extended to touch-tone telephones (standard or cellular) via a TelePunch feature.  The solution provided Ability Beyond Disability a flexible new way of capturing workforce time and attendance without purchasing additional data collection hardware by leveraging their investment in the Cisco IP telephony infrastructure.  Woods Network Services, a Cisco Gold level partner located in Farmington Connecticut, provided Ability Beyond Disability both the Cisco IP telephony system and the ExtendTime and attendance application as part of a total enterprise solution.

To integrate ExtendTime with the company's payroll system, a two-way interface was created that pulls new hire data into ExtendTime and time and attendance data directly into the payroll system.  According to Amy Brown, Controller for Ability Beyond Disability:  "The interface streamlines several functions of our business.  By eliminating the need for data entry it speeds up payroll processing and the accuracy is improved."  In addition to the payroll interface, the ExtendTime solution enables staff to view schedules, receive messages, transfer work hours between departments, and view accrued benefits all from their Cisco IP phone.

Operational Benefits and ROI
ExtendTime made it easy for Ability Beyond Disability to quickly reach their integration goals; however, the organization still faced significant challenges around managing workforce time and attendance.  Company supervisors were well aware of problems such as repeated lateness, employees fraudulently clocking in for coworkers (known as "buddy punching"), and coworkers unofficially covering shifts for one another.  But, prior to implementing the system, supervisors had no way to consistently prevent, prove, or correct these behaviors.

Now, with the ExtendTime system, employees can no longer disguise lateness or fraudulently log hours.  Supervisors have clear insight into employee activity and can address questionable behaviors before they become widespread.  As Brown explains:  "We're able to monitor the workforce better to know who's clocking in late.  [ExtendTime] has provided a method to hold staff more accountable for their work time."

Many supervisors are also taking advantage of the full scope of system features, including reporting, in order to improve their ability to effectively manage employees.  According to Brown:  "...Supervisors are enthusiastically learning to utilize the tools provided through ExtendTime.  They can monitor their staff; they can see who's clocking in late.  They really use it."

By changing the way they manage workforce time and attendance, Ability Beyond Disability has drastically improved operational efficiencies, reduced payroll-processing hours and costs, and eliminated data entry errors.  Discontinuing manual labor management is a decision that they highly recommend to other companies facing similar challenges.  As a result of Ability Beyond Disability's transition to web-based automation, positive ripple effects continue to flow throughout the organization.

The Ability Beyond Disability Cisco IP (Internet Protocol) telephone system was designed and installed by Woods Network Services, Inc., a Cisco Gold Certified Partner.  As a Cisco IP Communications specialized partner, Woods works with customers in Connecticut and surrounding states to design, install and support business communications systems based on Cisco's leading Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data.  Woods specializes in IP Telephone systems utilizing independent XML (eXtensible Markup Language) business applications to improve operational productivity.

ExtendTime is a trademark of CalAmp.  NETtime is a registered trademark of Time Spot, Inc.  All other names are the property of their respective owners.