Why time and attendance systems should be more complex
Author of the Time & Attendance Consultant's Guides series
Understandably, we have become accustomed to things being made more simple. This applies in particular to technology products, including hardware and software.
Think of how difficult it was in the past to install and configure software or a new router, for example. Often these processes were simply beyond the skills of the average user. By comparison, we now have true plug and play hardware products and software which self configures with just the bare minimum of user interaction. We even have user-level configurable integration between independent software products through products such as Zapier.
One excellent example of increased simplicity is cloud-based accounting. Software installation is of course not required, and the setup and configuration are mostly taken care of by features such as pre-defined industry account templates. Behind the scenes, all the accounting functionality is pre-defined because accounting practices are standardised. The application of Payroll withing these accounting systems is also mostly subject to accounting standard practices.
Standardisation is the key to simplicity in these systems. You don't need to accommodate any other accounting methodology because there is no other method used.
Time & attendance, by comparison, has many elements which are not standard between companies, and these are also not generally defined within an award or workplace agreement.
Here are a few of the elements which employees often apply without consistency even within the same industry; Grace times ( how late you allow an employee to be before a deduction), rounding ( how you adjust a late or early clocking), daily and payroll balancing ( moving Overtime to fill unworked Normal Hours).
It has been calculated that just using the three most common variations of Rounding for each clocking event during the day ( 6 including lunch and a tea break) there are 729 possible variations in the setup of an employees roster. In reality, there are more variations than this and most entry-level software products are unable to accommodate all possible scenarios.
It would be much easier if there were standardisation across all business, but this is not likely to happen, so most entry-level time & attendance software simply allow the application of a single rule for all clocking events which only leads to poor attendance calculations and the necessity for time-consuming manual adjustments.
The good news is that more advanced attendance systems can accommodate all these potential variations to rounding, grace and balancing rules and, they can be a relatively inexpensive option especially considering the potential savings in payroll preparation time and the improved accuracy of attendance recording.