Saturday, October 16, 2010

Enterprise Time and Attendance product challenges

Most enterprise Time and Attendance systems (by enterprise T&A systems, I refer to time and attendance modules present in the larger HCM product line of an ERP suite and not stand alone time and attendance products) are mature products doing a very fine job of collecting and processing time. But recent advances in technology as well as changing patterns of employment and workforce present some very interesting challenges to traditional established Enterprise Time and Attendance softwares. An enterprise Time and Attendance system can no longer survive with a one-product-in-all strategy, simply because other systems have evolved over the last many years which are capable of performing certain aspects of time management much better than an enterprise Time and Attendance system. One of the major trends shaping the workforce today is the paradigm of the mobile/flexible workforce and the widespread influence of mobile devices and social networking. What is the best way to report/record time for a mobile workforce, living in the virtual social networking world? It is my solemn belief that the interface to report time will move to mobile devices or even social networking sites (think of recording an absence from a Facebook app! Weird, but in the current context an absolute probability) and the role of an enterprise Time and Attendance software as a time recording tool will fade to insignificance. To enable this shift, enterprise time and attendance products should come up with robust APIs for time reporting which any third party can consume and use.
Another major shift is in data analytics - traditionally time and attendance softwares come with very minimal data crunching and reporting abilities, while one of the major advantages of a T&A system is the insights time data can give into labour productivity and payroll costs. This is also a task better done by specialized data warehousing products, rather than the T&A product. This also makes sense as organizations are moving towards an integrated data warehousing strategy.
In short - enterprise time and attendance systems will mostly assume the role of a time processing engine and act as the critical bridging point between the time reporting layer and the reporting/analytics and other enterprise components like payroll and workforce scheduling systems. Below are my predictions on how enterprise T&A modules will evolve to meet the new challenges:

  1. Separation of time reporting layer and time processing layer. Time reporting layer will move out of the enterprise T&A product, while the core strength of the T&A product will be time processing.
  2. APIs for integrating time data with time reporting interfaces. This should enable organizations the flexibility to report time using any mobile/social networking utility.
  3. Verticalisation of time and attendance solutions. Unlike other HCM processes, time management processes vary greatly across industries and a single configurable solution does not fit well. Enterprise T&A modules will have to verticalize their solutions.
  4. Stronger time based reporting and analytics and APIs with data warehousing products for time analytics. As organizations are moving towards a central data warehousing tool for all products used within the organization, I would like to see enterprise T&A module vendors forging stronger alliances with datawarehousing vendors and coming up with pre-defined data models, dashboards and reports.
I have roughly sketched my view of the landscape of an enterprise Time and Attendance system:

1 comment:

thomas said...

that was a great explantion and detailed brief on attendance systems with the schematic representation. Great post !