Great Bear Distribution moves to real-time workforce management and automates payroll processes with Kronos
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Great Bear Distribution is a leading UK logistics provider with a current year turnover of £92 million and a customer base that includes many blue chip FMCG customers. The organisation manages over 3 million sq/ft of warehousing and operates 150 commercial vehicles on behalf of its customers, employing 1,200 people at 26 UK locations.
During 2007, following a period of rapid growth, the organisation recognised a need to update the way in which it managed the time and attendance for weekly and monthly paid employees. Joanne Mortimore, Kronos Implementation Manager, Great Bear Distribution explains: “We had an entirely manual system for time recording, with depot managers responsible for emailing over weekly timesheets which were then checked against employee contracts before being keyed into payroll for the weekly processing deadline. The system was time consuming, open to error and, as the company expanded, it became increasingly difficult to meet the weekly payroll deadline.”
This requirement to alleviate the pressure on payroll and the desire to have one central database for all working hours, holidays and sickness was the key driver for the project to replace the manual timekeeping system with Kronos – a fully automated time and attendance solution which would interface with payroll and provide real-time visibility to employee working time and which would offer the required amount of scalability to cope with growing employee numbers.
“We selected Kronos following a thorough evaluation of a number of vendors,” explains Joanne Mortimore. “As a global organisation, Kronos provides a first rate support network, invests in its research and development programme and its customers benefit from the experience it gains from having a large, international network of customers.”
Following a pilot, where the organisation ran Kronos in parallel with its existing system, Great Bear Distribution has, to date, installed Kronos at almost all of its sites, which account for over 80% of the workforce. All employees are required to record their working hours using biometric finger scanners and depot managers have the responsibility of approving the electronic time card in Kronos and submitting this to payroll on Monday morning each week. The payroll team makes a final check before running the interface into payroll.
Using Kronos across these sites has already delivered tangible benefits to Great Bear Distribution.
Eliminating payroll pressure
A key driver for the project was to remove the weekly pressure on the payroll department to collect in timesheets from all depots, validate them and manually key them into payroll before the Monday deadline. It was becoming increasingly difficult to manage this process particularly when there was the added pressure of Monday bank holidays to accommodate and a fixed deadline of Thursday for paying employees. “It would generally take us until late on Monday to process the payroll but since using Kronos we’ve been in a position to complete payroll in a more timely manner and expect it to improve further as remaining depots come online. We now instruct all depots to sign off timesheets in Kronos by 10.00am on a Monday morning, ready for running the payroll interface at 11.00am. This increased level of efficiency has enabled us to re-deploy one member of the payroll team, which of course reduces our labour cost in this one area,” explains Joanne Mortimore.
Real-time visibility prompts project to renew business processes
The organisation now benefits from real-time availability of information enabling depot managers to accurately check and forecast labour costs for their depot. Managers are also able to quickly spot absence and sickness trends, something that was much more difficult to access using the manual timekeeping system.
Adding employees onto the Kronos system highlighted the number of different pay rules and locally interpreted rules across the organisation. It was never the intention of the company to radically overhaul employee contracts as part of the project but, as Joanne Mortimore explains, the information now available in Kronos has been a catalyst for a new project to review business processes. “Initially Kronos has been set up to replicate and automate the timekeeping system we had. However, with 100% visibility now to the number of different pay rules we have for employees and greater insight into the way in which the same set of rules have been interpreted differently by each depot, we’re now looking to simplify terms and conditions across the company.”
Sick pay interface reduces administration and simplifies process
Great Bear Distribution has become the first Kronos customer to benefit from an interface that has been built to simplify the process of calculating sick pay entitlement. Joanne explains:
“The Kronos development team worked alongside our payroll provider to develop the set of interfaces. It was a challenging project due to it being the first of its kind for both suppliers, but the hard work and team spirit has resulted in our having an automated system for calculating sick pay, rather than the time-consuming manual system we’d been working with for years.”
All company sick pay entitlement is now held in a Kronos-developed system, and all statutory sick pay entitlements are held in the company’s payroll system. Once an employee is recorded as sick in Kronos, further information is pulled from Kronos to determine periods of sickness. Following this, each individual sickness date and the number of hours sick on that date is passed to the payroll system to determine the level of sick pay entitlement. The level of sick pay is then automatically recorded in Kronos for that day, giving managers greater visibility to sickness costs.
Biometric time recording
Culturally, Great Bear was concerned that automating the timekeeping system and introducing biometric finger scanners wouldn’t fit with the ethos of the organisation. They’ve been delighted, however, that employees have fully understood the need to introduce a more efficient process, and have had no issue with using biometrics to record their hours. “Kronos has installed biometric time recording across a large number of customer sites and provides excellent information to help us reassure our employees that it’s simply a more efficient and accurate way of collecting data and nothing more,” says Joanne Mortimore.
Working with Kronos
“The advantage of working with the largest workforce management supplier is that there’s almost nothing they haven’t seen before, so you benefit from the experience they have gathered from a large customer base. The excellent training team has now trained us to a level where we can train our own users and the product development team worked tirelessly to ensure that our sick pay interface, something they had never built previously, was built to our precise specification,” explains Joanne Mortimore.
Looking to the future
The organisation is now looking at a project to include its agency workers onto the Kronos system, to ensure that agency invoices can be validated quickly and accurately. With agency employees recording their working hours through Kronos, the process of checking and validating the hours worked against the hours charged by the agency will become more streamlined and accurate.