Time for T (&A)?
29 March 2017
Time and Attendance (T&A) Systems have been around for quite a while without ever becoming a ‘must have’ weapon in the cleaning company’s armoury. However, in the last couple of years there’s been a growing sense that they can make the difference to the success of a cleaning contract. Rick Stoor, MD of Templa Computer Systems discusses the changing face of T&A software
Timekeeping and absence cover have long been a concern for cleaning client organisations. Understandably so, as clients feel they’ve paid for hours worked and don’t want to be short changed. Whereas contractors take a different view – the client is paying for a service, i.e. a clean building, and it’s up to the contractor what resources they use to deliver that service.
As a result, contractors’ tender bids have often included T&A systems, only to be dropped once the contract is awarded. Contractors argue, quite reasonably, that a signing-in book is just as effective at recording hours worked. Their reluctance to use T&A systems has also related in part to historical technical issues. Systems that rely on staff dialling in from a client’s telephone have brought site identification issues, whilst those that rely on Wi-Fi to relay data back to servers have run aground on connectivity problems.
Leveraging T&A to drive client satisfaction
So it may come as a surprise that the reason some contractors are making a success out of T&A is less to do with checking hours and more to do with improving client satisfaction. As an example, a company with over 500 staff working in the South East is using a T&A system recently ‘landed’ here from the continent that works with hand-held or wall-mounted terminals, giving 100% site coverage. The company most certainly relies on it to keep tabs on staff attendance and the activities of their mobile teams, but just as importantly to display instructions - for example to remind a specific operative to carry out a particular task - which staff can acknowledge by clicking ‘OK’.
The company’s account managers can monitor and manage the system via a dashboard on their own smartphone, tablet computer or desktop from any location. The terminals can also be used to scan RFID tags that can be placed outside key locations, such as washrooms, so that site managers can log the start and completion time of each clean in that area. They can also log faults through the same system. Interestingly the system is SMS-based and automatically selects the strongest network to receive and transmit data.
Integration to payroll and contract management systems
As well as monitoring attendance, the data on worked hours integrates easily to payroll and contract management systems, automatically populating timesheets and linking into roster planners and other elements of payroll management. This presents the contractor’s managers with the simple task of scanning timesheet variances and making necessary amendments online, before electronically signing off the hours worked for payment. The beauty of the system is that cover staff come equipped with their own device for checking in and out and their hours automatically find their way to the right timesheets.
How do all the parties benefit?
The benefits are clear. Cleaners themselves enjoy knowing exactly where they stand and receive help in prioritising work when clients have raised issues. Managers save time in processing payroll and can communicate easily with staff without needing to call. Meanwhile clients, as well sleeping more easily because of the transparent nature of the system, also benefit from increased standards and are more likely to look favourably on contract extensions.
Taking the recent advances into consideration, there is good reason to believe that T&A software can now drive return on investment and need not be regarded as a client-imposed drain on the operation.