Global construction and support services company, Interserve Project Services Ltd, was using a spreadsheet-based system to record time and attendance data across multiple sites and thousands of employees. This made it very difficult to obtain meaningful information in order to manage absences and maximise productivity. After a ‘beauty parade’ selection process the company chose Crown Computing’s Open Options™ system to bring its time and attendance management up to date.
With roots dating back to the late 19th century, UK-based Interserve today is one of the world’s leading support services and construction companies, operating in the public and private sectors. The company offers advice, design, construction, equipment and facilities management services for every conceivable kind of infrastructure. Interserve is a FTSE 250 company and has revenues of £1.9 billion, with a workforce of nearly 50,000 people worldwide.
Richard Jones, Associate Director, Quality Management, explains what led Interserve to decide a new time and attendance (T&A) system was needed: “We made the decision that we had to modernise our HR and payroll systems. At that time the staff salaries were dealt with through a bureau service and they did the gross-to-net. One of the outputs of that was a file of all the salaries, which was used in our salary allocation system. So it was combined with information gained from the sites where each person had worked and that all had to be re-keyed into the salary allocation system.” He continued: “For the operatives, we had a bespoke front end on our Mentor finance package, which did the calculations in accordance with the working rule agreement. Both of these systems were nearing end of life, hence the reason we decided to go forward with a new system. The legacy systems were quite old – a lot of them had been developed in-house. The people who had developed them had retired, so it was a fairly easy decision to move to a much more modern system.”
To find a supplier who could meet their needs, Jones says he conducted a ‘beauty parade’: “We contacted several T&A providers and asked them to come in and talk about their product and basically we were very impressed with Crown’s Open Options™ solution. From the beauty parade we produced some different scenarios; it’s fair to say ours is not a normal T&A implementation – we have a lot of complicated rules for operatives’ pay from the industry working rule agreement. At all times Crown demonstrated they could meet those current needs and some changes that we wish to make to our needs for the future also.”
During the implementation Jones and his colleagues actually discovered there were certain issues which hadn’t actually been identified by them pre-sale. Nevertheless, he says that again Crown rose to those new challenges on every occasion and on one even changed their software in the next release to meet Interserve’s needs.
According to Jones, from an IT and user perspective the roll-out of the project was entirely straightforward. He notes: “From a user perspective we employed our own super-users who were trained by the Crown trainers. We then adopted our own in-house training methodology for training our administrators and again, because this wasn’t a straightforward T&A implementation, we didn’t envisage anybody actually clocking in and all the assumed clock-ins were entered by administrators, so we had to train those working in the administrative centres.”
Jones describes his Open Options™ implementation as an integrated system – HR-payroll-time-and-attendance costed solution, so the key benefits is that it’s now given the company a standardised end-to-end process. He explains: “Previously we had a lot of workarounds because data was maybe inaccurate or invalid. We now have validation of that data through the T&A system, which gives us a greater granularity of reporting. We can now pull off reports about where people are and which sites they’ve worked on in the past, something we found very difficult with the paper-based system. You would have had to have gone through a lot of files, so the reporting is greatly beneficial to us.”
Jones and his team are now exploiting Open Options™ features that are enhancing productivity and usefulness further. He elaborates: “Some of the other things it’s also opening up include pathways for using data – dicing and slicing it with other data that we have in our data warehouse, so it gives us the opportunity to use the data in more than one way – not just for costing. We have a plant department, which manages our transport fleet – that’s heavy goods and light vehicles, construction plant and equipment and a range of other construction ancillaries, such as Portable cabins and the like.” He continues: “The people on the ground currently manage and maintain all that equipment themselves and the maintenance data is held on job cards. That means it’s not easy to interrogate, although we do have people transferring the data to spreadsheets so that we can get some intelligent information out of it. However, we do see the advantage of having the workforce actually clock-on to particular vehicles or jobs so that we can capture the information, interrogate it and then make certain decisions, such as identifying vehicles that are requiring too much maintenance and that should therefore be replaced.”
With Open Options up and running, Jones and his colleagues are expanding their horizons: “Having now had the product in place for some time and allowed it to bed in, we’re looking at how we can streamline our T&A processes even more. We are running a pilot scheme, which Crown is helping us with, for clocking-in devices on one of our projects and we’re hoping that the lessons we learn from that can be rolled out across the rest of the business.”
Jones is clearly more than happy that he made the decision to go with Crown Computing and Open Options: “We’ve always found Crown to be extremely helpful and co-operative, all the way along the road from pre-sales to implementation. It appears that any problems or challenges that we encounter, Crown are always there to help us resolve them, so that’s my highest recommendation.”