We’ve all been hearing a lot lately about “cloud computing.” Companies everywhere are embracing the idea of using hosted applications and sharing data via “the cloud.”

Did you know you can also manage employee time and attendance in the cloud? It’s true — and it just may be a great option for your organization.

What is “the Cloud”?

In a nutshell, “the cloud” refers to the practice of running applications and storing data on servers that are hosted by a third-party company. Rather than installing the software on your own PCs or servers, you access the applications via a secure connection over the Internet.

Benefits of “the Cloud“

The idea of cloud computing has actually been around for some years. Lately, though, it has received increasing attention as companies realize the benefits. In particular, tracking employee time online turns out to be for some businesses a much more convenient and cost-effective alternative to using standard locally-installed software.

Cloud-based workforce management, such as our own AcroTime, offers several distinct advantages to small and mid-sized businesses:

  1. You can deploy your new workforce management application quickly. There’s no need to purchase, install and configure software. All you need is a browser and an Internet connection.
  2. Employees can quickly and easily clock in and out, anytime, anywhere they’re working. This makes the cloud an excellent solution for organizations with a remote or mobile workforce, or those with multiple locations.
  3. There’s less need for IT support. Training, support and software upgrades are all taken care of, usually without the need for local IT involvement.
  4. Your up-front costs are very low. You don’t have to purchase expensive software or pay a huge licensing fee, and you won’t need to hire costly consultants to get you up and running.
  5. You can take advantage of the system’s flexibility. Instead of buying software to accommodate your peak capacity, you only pay for the capacity you actually use in any given month. This is especially beneficial for employers with a seasonal or fluctuating workforce.

Making a Wise Choice

There are many vendors offering online time tracking solutions. Of course, every one claims their system is the “best.” So how do you choose?

Here’s a quick five-item checklist that may help you narrow your options:

  1. Above all, make sure the solution you’re considering offers the functionality you need. Think about your workflow, your reporting needs and the specific features you require to support your workforce.

    For instance, if you bill your customers by the job or project, you may want to consider a system with job-costing capabilities. If your employees frequently work at locations where they don’t have Internet access, you need a system that offers alternate methods of clocking in (smartphone app, telephony and the like). If you’re concerned about “buddy punching,” make sure the system you’re considering offers biometric options for clocking in and out.

    And if you have a limited or non-existent Human Resources department, you may want to consider an option that also includes HR management capabilities in addition to basic time tracking.

  2. Make sure your vendor can keep your data safe and secure. Your data is only as secure as the data center where it’s stored. Ask your vendor about their security and backup features. For instance, AcroTime’s data center is one of the few commercially-available facilities that meets or exceeds Department of Defense standards for data security.

  3. Check your vendor’s experience and track record. It’s important to check out the history of potential vendors. Wage and hour laws are complex. You want a vendor with experience in the field, and one who’s clearly in the business for the long haul.

    You don’t want to find yourself in the position of scrambling for a new vendor because the one you selected has suddenly discontinued their service, and you don’t want to find yourself in legal hot water because their application didn’t conform to labor laws. With Acroprint, this is not a worry. We’ve been in the time and attendance business for over 44 years. We understand time and attendance, and we’re in it for keeps.

  4. Evaluate how easily the solution will work with your other systems. One of the biggest cost savings from automated

    time tracking comes from being able to calculate time, then export the data directly to your payroll system. This not only saves a great deal of manual calculation time, it reduces clerical and data entry errors, saving you time later on correcting employee paychecks. AcroTime includes over 30 pre-built export formats (including standard ASCII) to work with almost any payroll software or service.

  5. Consider the system’s flexibility to accommodate your work rules, payroll practices and business operations. Does the system you’re considering support your existing workflow? Or does it require you to change your processes to accommodate its own requirements? Does it offer data-entry options that fit your business needs (i.e. biometrics, badge swipe terminals, telephony options, etc.)? Are you required to sign a long-term contract that limits your ability to change your service level or selected features?

A Few Hints

Here are a few hints to make sure you choose the right solution for you, and to help increase employee acceptance and adoption of the new system.

  1. Form a selection committee. It’s important to involve in the selection process the people who will actually be using the system. Consider at a minimum including an employee representative, a supervisor and someone from payroll or accounting.

  2. Don’t rush into a decision. Take the time to review and document your workflows and business processes, so you can ensure your chosen solution will adapt to your environment (and not the other way around). Take advantage of product demos and free trials to “kick the tires” of solutions you’re considering to see how they actually function in your work environment.

  3. Don’t just focus on the software; check out the vendor, too. Remember, they will be your partner for the long term. Are they easy to deal with? Do they offer good training and support resources? How easy is it to get in touch with them? Do they seem to understand your business? Are they flexible and responsive? What is their industry experience and reputation? Above all, do they seem to be in it for the long haul?

With a bit of planning and careful selection, you can find a cloud-based solution that offers the features you need now, flexibility for the future and a helpful, responsive vendor partner to stand by you every step of the way.

For more information about AcroTime online time clock or AcroTime HR Management, and to sign up for a personalized demo or a free 30-day trial, visit www.AcroTime.com.

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