Applicant tracking software for Windows by Infotrends Research Group



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Reducing Frustration is Often a Major Benefit of HR Systems

The Personnel News

By Jerry Fireman

Reducing frustration is an often overlooked but still valuable benefit of installing HR software. Selecting the proper software and making sure that your staff is trained in its use often makes it a snap to perform tasks that currently require an agonizing amount of tedious entry and manipulation of data. The result is that your people get more accomplished in less time and are happier about their work as well. One key factor in insuring that your HR software truly does reduce frustration is making sure that the software that you install is flexible enough to automate your full range of HR activities. Here are several examples of companies that improved their bottom line by eliminating frustrating tasks.

Taligent was formed as a joint venture of IBM and Apple in 1992 with employees from Apple, IBM and IBM subsidiary Metaphore systems joining the new company. Early in the life of the new company, problems began to arise concerning the availability of historical data on the company's employees. When the time came for a performance review, the employee's supervisor naturally wanted a salary history for the employee. Adding this information to a flat-file database would require creating a new field for every year that historical information was needed. This was awkward and made it difficult to work with the database. Even though Taligent was a new company, performance review dates were rolled over from the employee's old company so this rather quickly turned into a major problem.

Human resources staffers realized that they needed a more organized database that would easily store and access historical data and other information that we required. They spoke to other users of !Trak-It HR, from Infotrends Research Group, Sunnyvale, California, and decided to use it based on the fact that the system is relatively easy to modify. The !Trak-It HR system is based on relational database technology so it is capable of storing massive amounts of data on each employee without becoming unwieldy. Once they got the !Trak-It HR system installed, they discovered that its approach made it possible to store much more complete information on each employee while the ease of accessing the data was also improved.

!Trak-It HR makes it possible to maintain several different tables and link them together. One of these tables contains a record of personal information about each employee. The on-screen form includes a place for the employees address, phone number, marital status, person to contact in an emergency, and so on. The personal information in this table is far more complete than the previous database. For example, Taligent Inc. has a number of employees who like to be called by a nickname -- and a field is included to store this information. The new system also includes the school that each employee graduated from.

Compilation of time and attendance data at McDonough, Holland and Allen, Sacramento's largest law firm, was a tedious task in the past. Using !Trak-It HR to calculate attendance figures saves time, increases the accuracy of the process and accommodates absenteeism records in fractions of an hour. Attendance of each staff member is now entered into the system on a weekly basis by the human resources secretary. The system then accrues to an accuracy of one-hundredth of an hour. A report on any employee can be produced in a matter of minutes. In the past, the minimum vacation allowed was one-half day because it was too difficult and time-consuming to calculate less than that. Staff has adjusted to thinking of their balances in terms of "hours" rather than "days" and staff members can request a printout of their time-off log or balance at any time.

The production of special reports was frustrating to Furst-McNess Company (Freeport, Illinois) staffers because they took so long to prepare on the database software that the company previously used to maintain its human resources records. Some reports were so difficult with the old system that they weren't even produced. An example is a report that documents the cost to the company of different levels of merit pay increases. Another example is a report that indicates all of the employees who have a performance review due the following month. This makes it possible to send a reminder note to the employee's supervisor. One more example is a report of employees covered by its various benefit plans that is used to check monthly insurance bills.

All of these reports are now produced in a minute or two with !Trak-It HR. Custom reports are so easy to create that the company thinks of new ones every week or so. Recently, they switched a subsidiary's payroll from an outside vendor to the in-house payroll system. Payroll asked Mark Fryer, Director of Human Resources, to provide extensive data to input into the system. He was able to generate a report off of the !Trak-It HR system that eliminated about 90 percent of the data retrieval. In addition, the report took less than 30 minutes to write and print. Another new report is salary averages and ranges for different job classifications that are used to compare to industry surveys as well as comparing salaries and wages by grade and location.

These examples demonstrate that relieving frustration on the part of your human resources staff and their customers can be a profitable enterprise. If your staff is frustrated, chances are that means they are spending far too much time on tedious tasks that could be easily automated with the right software. The main prerequisite for eliminating frustration is selecting a software package flexible enough to handle all your record-keeping and reporting needs yet simple enough to be easily learned and used. Taligent, McDonough, Holland and Allen, and Furst-McNess have all found !Trak-It HR to be the ideal tool for relieving frustration.

!Trak-It HR is available in a Windows edition with many new features and an even friendlier new interface that includes George, your HR Assistant.

About the author: Jerry Fireman is a writer based in Birmingham, Michigan that specializes in human resource related topics. His work has appeared in Personnel Journal, Human Resources Executive, Benefits and Compensation Solutions, PayTech, DPMA News and Managing Office Technology.