Colleges and universities across the nation face ongoing budget scrutiny. They must operate efficiently to provide a quality education while managing cost.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is the largest employer in the state of Alabama. In addition to its academic staff, the university employs thousands of hourly employees across dozens of locations in the state. Two of the university’s divisions use Attendance Enterprise to manage time and attendance for more than 1,000 hourly employees. These divisions achieved significant savings and streamlined timekeeping processes.
The Attendance Enterprise solution provides advanced features for managing labor data. It schedules employees; budgets for labor; automates timekeeping, processing and reporting; and interfaces smoothly with the university’s central payroll system. It also meets the unique security and documentation requirements of a research facility.
Hourly UAB employees are organized into several divisions. Each division is responsible for its own time and attendance management, including the selection and maintenance of a time and attendance solution to support the type of work it performs. The payroll processes for all divisions are managed by the university’s central Oracle accounting and nance application. Each division can use its preferred time and attendance system, as long as that system can interface with Oracle or produce output that can be entered into Oracle.
Both the Facilities and the Animal Resources Divisions of the UAB searched for a time and attendance system to replace their internal, largely manual processes for scheduling, timekeeping and reporting. They selected Attendance Enterprise based on the recommendation of workforce management firm Gorrie-Regan & Associates.
Attendance Enterprise scaled easily to meet the needs of both divisions. Management relies upon the solution to track and report time and attendance for their separate – and very different – workforces.
The UAB Facilities Division is the university’s largest division, with more than 900 employees including 350 full-time hourly employees and 40 supervisors. The division is made up of several units performing a variety of functions such as facilities maintenance, planning, support services and sustainability.
Animal Resources is a relatively small division with approximately 100 employees responsible for overseeing research laboratories and other highly secure buildings where animals are housed and cared for.
Attendance Enterprise serves the needs of both the Facilities and Animal Resources operations. Supervisors use the system to record time for employees in sites that operate 24/7. Employees use Attendance Enterprise’s time clocks to securely punch in and out.
Both Facilities and Animal Resources managed their time and attendance completely with manual processes before launching Attendance Enterprise.
Supervisors built schedules by hand in Excel sheets, and employees punched in and out each day using paper time cards and punch time clocks. At the end of each weekly pay period, supervisors collected timecards, veri ed each employee’s time by manually reviewing the paper timecards, and rekeyed the information into Oracle.
Animal Resources employed a full-time HR sta person who dedicated about half her time to entering data from triple-page carbon-paper timesheets into the university’s Oracle payroll system. In the Facilities Division, supervisors were responsible for all their own data entry. Many of them oversee 30 or more employees, so this manual process was very time-consuming and cumbersome. It also opened the door for human error.
Today, Attendance Enterprise automates and streamlines virtually every step in this process. Facility supervisors easily manage scheduling by accessing the system on their PCs. Management across both UAB divisions access data on all employees to develop optimum schedules that ensure solid coverage for all shifts and locations.
Employees record time using biometric time clocks, or by swiping their university ID badges on conveniently located card readers when entering and leaving each building. Attendance Enterprise automatically captures all clock-in and clock-out times for every employee in every location. Animal Resources uses the system to monitor employee hours. The larger, more complex Facilities Division also links the data with the appropriate pay rates.
Supervisors review time and attendance records each pay period. The Facilities Division generates a batch le for each set of time and attendance records, and feeds the le into Oracle automatically.
“Attendance Enterprise allows for supervisors to better track and process employee time and attendance with a lot less manual work required than before,” says Edwin Dixon, IT Manager of the UAB Facilities Division.
The UAB Facilities and Animal Resources divisions face two unique challenges related to scheduling.
First, the divisions both operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays. The nature of their work requires that one supervisor and a few employees work onsite at all times.
Second, employees operate out of many different buildings and move among them frequently – often within the same day. Facilities Division employees cover 50 buildings and Animal Resources employees are spread across 17, including a Bio-Safety Level 3 (BSL3) research facility.
Before Attendance Enterprise, supervisors had great difficulty scheduling and tracking employee movements, especially on weekends and holidays when overall sta ng was particularly lean. Now, supervisors use advanced scheduling capabilities to view data on all employees across their divisions. With technology on their side, supervisors can better manage overall staffing.
Animal Resources employees will likely use hand scanners to sign in and out of a highly secure BSL-3 research facility that will soon become active on campus. The use of hand scanners allows for documented compliance with “personnel suitability” elements of the USDA Security Policies and Procedures for BSL-3 facilities.
BSL3 facilities require a high level of security and close monitoring of employees working inside them at all times. Only employees with particular credentials are allowed in or out, in order to ensure containment of pathogens.
According to Animal Resources Division Financial Officer Tim Crutchfield, Attendance Enterprise’s hand scanners will enable them to support the recordkeeping required for this facility.
Facilities and Animal Resources supervisors have more visibility into attendance issues with Attendance Enterprise. They can ensure that employees are working out of the appropriate facilities, monitor tardiness and absenteeism, and con rm start and end times for all employees they supervise – right from their desktop computers.
They can easily identify time and attendance issues, based on data that is 100 percent accurate and objective. If an employee is chronically late, that situation is quickly flagged and the supervisor can address it immediately.
“There’s no way for attendance issues to slip by supervisors when the data is right at their fingertips,” says Dixon.
The UAB Facilities and the Animal Resources divisions measurably bene t from the use of Attendance Enterprise.
Attendance Enterprise and the biometric hand scanners prevent employees from “buddy punching,” or clocking each other in and out, a practice that had been impossible to prevent with the previous manual time clocks. Today, employees are required to use their own ID badges to sign in and out. They must wear their badges at all times, so they can’t lend them to each other for buddy-punching. This prevents potentially costly abuses that can slow productivity for the entire organization.
This indirect savings, along with overall efficiency and productivity improvements, drive real, measurable, bottom-line bene ts for both UAB divisions.
Dixon notes that Attendance Enterprise has trimmed his division’s time and attendance processing times by about 75 percent.
According to Crutch eld, the Animal Resources Division has saved costs equal to salary and bene ts for one and one-half employees annually. It has also trimmed processing times in half.
The UAB supervisor teams are pleased to have the time and labor data to make better attendance-related decisions – decisions that help them run their operations more effectively.
“After we launched Attendance Enterprise, supervisors were able to begin focusing more of their attention on their ‘people manager’ responsibilities, rather than spending so much of their time tracking attendance,” explains Clay Boyce, Facilities Division Information Systems Specialist 3. “Given that the supervisors oversee 1,000 UAB employees, the improvements to their efficiency and productivity are extremely far-reaching.”
The UAB Facilities and Animal Resources divisions strongly recommend Attendance Enterprise to other educational institutions that want to optimize the efficiency of their time and attendance management.
The management teams also recommend Gorrie-Regan & Associates, the workforce management rm that introduced them to Attendance Enterprise and now services it. The teams are very satis ed with the ongoing customer service provided by Gorrie-Regan & Associates. Crutch eld notes that the workforce management rm is always quick to respond to any service issues.
As they look forward to the university’s continued growth, the UAB divisions remain aware of Attendance Enterprise’s ability to seamlessly manage many pay rates and integrate easily with other workforce management systems. They have peace of mind in knowing that these and many other additional system capabilities are available to help meet future challenges or opportunities.
Attendance Enterprise provides the flexibility and scalability to meet the needs of two diverse divisions and more than 1,000 employees of this large university. The time and attendance solution has eliminated the labor expense of inefficient manual time clocks, paper time cards and the manual steps required to interface with the UAB’s central payroll system. Attendance Enterprise helps university researchers comply with the documentation requirements of highly secure USDA-regulated facilities, while providing scheduling and reporting capabilities that enable supervisors to better manage their teams.
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