Scheduling, Time & Attendance

At rostering time we need to account for “casualties” .

This means to drop absentees from the list of available employees.

We give the absentees a (planned) RFA code in place of a shift code.

Unfortunately there are unplanned absences, too: the employees who were supposed to work and call in sick at the very last moment (or later).

Sometimes it is possible to replace unplanned absences with personnel on call. Sometimes no replacement can be found and we have the option to work short staff or to cancel the activity (usually not possible).

Often personnel is moved from activities on short staff that cannot be cancelled to activities that can be cancelled or delayed.

When the rostering is done by hand, the roster sheet of the “day after” is full of lines, signs, erasures, notes: a clear evidence that a battle was fought in order to fix problems and keep the customers and the managers satisfied.

In large organizations, the person who daily fights this battles is not the planner, but the “dispatcher”.

We can only vaguely guess how many things can go wrong during a shift: a crane can stop, leaving 30 dock workers idle and a ship unserviced for hours (an idle day can cost $30,000 or more to the ship owner). An armored car can be attacked by robbers. A van with hot meals for 500 can stop in a traffic jam.

When dust settles down and the dispatcher goes home to rest, the roster will be corrected according to actual start time and end time of each service, absentees and replacements, yields, premiums, extra hours, etc will be written down.

Actual data is now ready to be passed to the payroll office.

Scheduling, Time & Attendance: retail, industry and health sector

In many sectors employees work in house (in the shop, factory or clinic).

In this case is very convient to use a biometric reader that will store the clock-in and clock-out times.

Even now badge readers are used a lot. However badge readers have several flaws:

  • badges need to be printed. A badge printer is expensive. Labour is wasted.
  • badges can be forgotten. A paper procedure for this case must be planned. Labour is wasted. The paper procedure undermine the control effort.
  • badges demagnetize. Same as a forgotten badge, a paper procedure must be used here. Besides, a demagnetized badge needs to be printed again.
  • badges allow “buddy punching”: a dishonest collegue can record the badge in place of the owner (beside its own)

Such an application can be a precious tool to use together with a workforce management application.

The WMA stores planned data, the T&A application stores actual data.

Comparing the planned and actual data for each employee and data, we can find several interesting exceptions:

  • late entrance
  • late exit
  • early entrance
  • early exit
  • unplanned absence
  • unplanned shift
  • inconsistent clock-in/clock-out
  • missing clock-in
  • missing clock-out
  • etc

The size of the exception file measures the chaos inside the company.

Ideally the exception file should be empty.

The bigger the size of the exception file, the bigger the chaos.

When the exception file is large, the internal organization needs to be audited.

Smart T&A applications can improve communications between employees and the management.

The T&A application can display public messages (for all employees) or private messages (for the single employee who is recording a clock-in/clock-out).

Also a smart T&A application can be used by all employees to

  • ask for a day off (a vacation, a leave, etc) on a given date
  • notify overtime or travel allowance
  • notify a missed clock-in/clock-out
  • track their requests going thru the company ierarchy for validation
  • check the number of unused vacation days, overtime, extras etc in real time
  • check the clock-in / clock-out stamps recorded in the past days
  • read the payslip as a private message

A nice feature of smart T&A applications is the ability to alert with email or sms the occurrence of special events, like when John asks for overtime.

Recording a clock-in from the web could seem a non-sense.

An employee could clock-in from home, from abroad, from anywhere !

Well, not so easy. Somebody thought about it and deviced several possible solutions:

  • a vpn to connect to the server that requires authentication. Computer with no authentication won’t be able to access the application.
  • a certificate for the browser. Computers with no certificate won’t be able to access.
  • the client mac address is recorded together with the stamp. This allows for later checks against a list of allowed mac addresses.
  • the connection IP is recorded together with the stamp. This allows for later checks against a list of allowed IPs
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