When IGF needed a robust time and attendance tool, it found the answer through its outsourced payroll provider.
As an HRO service provider with three business models—ASO, PEO, and BPO—Dallas-based Odyssey OneSource serves more than 350 clients, ranging from 5 to 2,000 employees and operating in a wide variety of industries. With so many clients at different levels, the organization was having trouble meeting its workforce management needs through its technology vendor.
“We needed a web-based solution that was forward thinking in its design, highly configurable, and most importantly, one with strong customer support behind it,” stated Todd Kirby, implementation consultant for Odyssey.
At the time in 2006, the software as a solution (SaaS) delivery model was just beginning to accelerate in momentum, and Odyssey decided a web-based solution offered by SaaS.com was a good fit for its needs and those of its clients, including a Houston-based financial services business.
Integrity Group Financial (IGF), which focuses on providing check protection and credit card payment solutions to small and midsize merchants, operates a complicated payroll and time and attendance process. To improve efficiencies, it required a configurable solution that met the needs of its exempt and non-exempt employees, while automating other business processes to allow the company to focus on revenue-generating activities. Its previous vendor was not cutting it.
“We were dealing with one of the largest names in the payroll service bureau and PEO business,” said Chad Snowbarger, director of administration for IGF. “In our business, we’ve learned that communication and being proactive are key, both internally as well as with our key vendors. Our previous vendor may have been making money but certainly not friends. Inadequate service and a general failure to meet mutually established objectives caused us to shop around.”
Snowbarger considered at least four other PEOs extensively, but found Odyssey’s web-based time and attendance system particularly appealing. “We switched because the package deal offered by Odyssey included a highly configurable solution, coupled with a proactive and extremely dedicated team,” he said.
As an organization that hires employees through temporary agencies for at least the first 90 days, keeping track of time and attendance was no small task. Employment forms had to be completed by hand, signed by multiple supervisors, copied and faxed to the agency, and then scanned for future reference. The process was lengthened further when the agency had to follow up due to legibility problems with the faxes. “There was no consistency in how these forms were completed on our end or interpreted on their end,” Snowbarger explained.
IGF sought out to implement a new system that would eliminate redundant data entry. Its previous time and attendance system was not integrated with payroll and required new-hire and termination data to be entered into both systems. “At one point, I remember counting about 15 to 20 minutes to get one employee set up in both systems,” said Christy Leisner, an administrative assistant for IGF. “It was a lot of extra steps and redundant work.”
Furthermore, because exempt employees at IGF were entitled to take up to a half day off if they worked at least half of their scheduled workday, it made time and attendance tracking difficult. “Of course the time off has to be approved first, but I encourage my supervisors to take advantage of it. However, I don’t have the resources to document this time myself,” said Snowbarger.
Another issue IGF encountered from time to time was inexperienced staffers working in payroll. Often times, those without computer experience can be intimidated when switching to an automated system. Robert Wood, IGF’s payroll specialist explained, “Admittedly, I’m very ‘old school.’ Not being computer savvy means that it takes me a little longer to learn the flow of a new system. Ten years ago, our process was pretty primitive and paper intensive. I was slightly intimidated when we first switched to an automated solution because it seemed really complicated.”
But when Wood and other IGF employees learned that the solution offered by Odyssey could remedy many of the organization’s pains and ease fears of automation, they were put at ease. “New technology has to meet everyone’s level of experience and needs. While the first time we switched to an automated system was relatively rocky, after using our old system and now Odyssey’s, I’ve learned that not only is Odyssey’s more simplified, but I was able to learn it a littler faster because it is so user friendly. The easier a system is to understand and the fewer steps there are to complete processes, the fewer opportunities there are for errors. That makes me very comfortable.”
Some of the steps that were eliminated, which Wood referenced, were those involved in forwarding information to temporary agencies. With all time and attendance information tracked within the system, employees no longer have to manually complete paperwork. “We can simply print all information to a pdf or email,” stated Leisner. “We no longer get calls from our temporary agencies asking us to verify handwritten timesheets, and we’ve been able to save significant time processing payroll.”
Because time-off requests are now made on-line, eliminating all paperwork, IGF is able to save on printing and labor costs. “We are saving an untold amount of time by not having to scan, save, or shred physical payroll reports,” Leisner added.
With Odyssey’s system integrated with payroll, on-boarding new hires takes less than a third of the time it used to. New hire documents are sent to Odyssey, which inputs them into the payroll system first and then automatically syncs with the time and attendance system. The time it takes to process terminations also dropped to nothing.
The flexibility of the system allows IGF to also better track both exempt and non-exempt employees. “Even though we’re not tracking hours worked by exempt employees, they are in leadership positions and therefore must be present during certain times of the day,” stated Snowbarger. “That’s why IGF requires that exempt employees clock in when they arrive and add notes if they arrive late, for instance, because of car trouble. These are features not offered by the previous vendor.”
IGF also incorporated a new paid time off (PTO) category called “Exempt Time Off.” By setting this up, Snowbarger no longer had to manually track hours for exempt employees. This information can be particularly helpful during employee reviews and/or disciplinary actions.
IGF has also experienced benefits in a number of additional areas, including:
• Reduced Business Risk. The multi-facet system Odyssey designed for IGF helps protect the organization in the event of litigation. A detailed audit trail keeps track of who made each entry or change and includes notes, timesheets, hours worked, etc. “Any time there is a change to a timesheet, I can go in and see who made the change and why,” Snowbarger said. “It’s a critical accountability tool for me to make sure supervisors are not covering for hourly employees, for instance, if they are rolling back hours when employees come in late on a regular basis. On the surface, I don’t have any reason to believe that may be going on, but it’s nice to know, and I firmly believe that we cannot expect what we do not inspect.”
Snowbarger said the time and attendance system will improve IGF’s recordkeeping and reduce the risk of potential wage and hour disputes. Being able to track tardiness and absences and documenting the reasons for those occurrences is critical, he added, in helping the company to improve its efficiency and effectiveness.
• Filtering. “With our previous system, we’d have to go through a process of at least five steps in order to create only one filter,” explained Snowbarger. “Since working with Odyssey, we can filter more efficiently in only one step. We just plug in exactly what we need, and because the system includes so many different variables, we can easily view exactly what we need.”
Since implementing the on-demand offering provided by SaaS.com through Odyssey, a number of bottlenecks IGF once experienced have been eliminated. “Anything that we can do to free up time in certain areas means creating time to focus on more revenue-generating activities,” stated Snowbarger. But more than time, the web-based system also has reduced costs as well, which Snowbarger said will help him remain more competitive in the marketplace.
Since implementing SaaS.com’s time and attendance system, Odyssey said it has helped boost the company’s value proposition to both new and existing clients.
“Of all of the clients that allowed us to demonstrate this system, 84.8 percent of them signed up for it immediately,” according to Kirby. “Another 6.1 percent committed to implementing it at a later date. If the proof is in the pudding, [the SaaS] system has turned out to be quite a dish.”