Convergence Q&A: An ROI Item for Tough Economic Times

Workforce management applications are solutions worth evaluating


Current economic conditions are having an impact on businesses large and small. While not all companies are faced with workforce reduction, “doing more with less” is a nearly universal requirement.

Q: What technologies can help during tough economic times?

A: Harnessing physical access systems to support workforce management applications is the best example of how convergence of security and business applications brings bottom-line improvements to the business. It turns the physical security infrastructure into a labor productivity tool and makes the security investment a source of savings, not expense. That’s important at any point in the economic cycle, but it’s especially popular in a recession.

— Christopher Laibe, CEO, inFRONT (www.infrontusa.com)

A: One particularly pertinent solution is an automated time-and-attendance system. Automated workforce management systems benefit businesses financially by eliminating common payroll errors and oversights, reducing unauthorized overtime expenses, and providing comprehensive reporting on labor dollars. In fact, most businesses using automated time-and-attendance software experience a return on investment within three to six months of putting the system into place, with ongoing annual savings. Additionally, workforce management systems benefit the operational side of businesses by allowing the optimization of a lean workforce through improved labor allocation, enhanced scheduling solutions, and in-depth reporting.

— Erin Hagget, ITR (www.itr.ca)

After reading a white paper emailed to me by Erin Hagget (also available on the company Website), and having some discussion with Chris Laibe, I got a better perspective on the benefits of workforce management. In the late 1980s — which is when I first began working with automated time-and-attendance — in most cases the functionality simply consisted of transferring “in” and “out” events for specific readers of an access control system. This data provided an electronic time clock function, which had a number of advantages over card-punch time clocks. For most projects that I was involved in back then, a key advantage for personnel was that any number of readers could be used for the clock-in or clock-out function, including existing door control readers. Most designs eliminated typical time clock queues and of course did away with the labor involved in managing punch cards, not to mention eliminating “buddy punching,” problems with late or early punches, and so on.

Today’s systems go far beyond what the early systems provided, including Web-based self-service and the automation of approval workflow for time-off requests and vacation scheduling. Both the ITR and the inFRONT Websites have ROI calculators that can be used to get a preliminary “take” on whether or not such a solution is worth evaluating.

Not all companies have such applications in place, and some companies that I know simply export their clock-in and clock-out data to the payroll system, without any of the advantages that workforce management software can provide. It is definitely one way to extend the value of access control technology, especially now.

New Question:

How have you benefitted from the convergence of information technology and physical security systems?

If you have experience that relates to this question, or have other convergence experience you want to share, e-mail your answer to me at ConvergenceQA@go-rbcs.com or call me at 949-831-6788. If you have a question you would like answered, I’d like to see it. We don’t need to reveal your name or company name in the column. I look forward to hearing from you!

Ray Bernard, PSP, CHS-III is the principal consultant for Ray Bernard Consulting Services (RBCS), a firm that provides security consulting services. Mr. Bernard has provided strategic and technical advice in the security and building automation industries for more than 18 years. He is founder and publisher of The Security Minute 60-second newsletter (www.TheSecurityMinute.com). For more information about Ray Bernard and RBCS, go to www.go-rbcs.com or call 949-831-6788.

This content continues onto the next page...