Software Service Streamlines Payroll Interface at Piedmont Triad

Karen Reinhardt
Published in: 

Employees at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, NC, no longer clock in and out. It's all done via the Internet; and so is requesting time off. The airport's entire time and attendance process was streamlined when it began using a web-hosted service last spring.

"We realized we needed to change the entire concept," says Kelly Hilliard, director of human resources for Piedmont Triad Airport Authority (PTAA). "The ultimate goal for us will be to go paperless with both payroll and timekeeping processes, and ultimately benefits."

Facts & Figures

Project: Web-based Time & Attendance System

Location: Piedmont Triad Int'l Airport, Greensboro, NC

Owner/Operator: Piedmont Triad Airport Authority Software Service Provider: Attendance on Demand, Inc.

Distributor: Labor Strategy

Implementation: Labor Strategy

Est. Annual Cost: $5,500

Benefits: Streamlined time and attendance data collection; provided real-time access to labor information; automated leave request; created more cohesive link with payroll process

The time-keeping process for payroll had already been outsourced for several years. More recently, the airport authority began moving from mechanical and paper time and attendance processes to computer-based software. Employees, however, were still "clocking" in and out.

Since the airport began using Attendance on Demand® last May, more than 110 airport workers access the time tracking system via the Internet on PCs located throughout the facilities. Everyone from parking attendants and maintenance workers to police officers and administrative personnel log into the same system through an airport-specific URL. Employees can access historic information about their time and attendance, view benefit hour balances and request leave, all online. Time and attendance data is particularly helpful for tracking overtime of police officers and fire/rescue workers.

The system also created a more cohesive link between payroll and timekeeping for the airport authority, notes Hilliard.

Making the Switch

PTAA selected Attendance on Demand distributor Labor Strategy to design, implement and manage the installation of the new time tracking service. "We are really like a city within a city," explains Hilliard. "We are very unique in that we don't staff a straight 8 to 5, Monday through Friday operation. We are open 24/7, 365 days of the year. We have always been the 'square that needed to fit into the circle,' so we had to find a system that could accommodate our needs and our budget."

Rather than purchasing the software outright, PTAA pays a user fee - approximately $5,500 per year - for web-hosted capabilities. The arrangement, known as SaaS (Software as a Service) or on-demand licensing, has been in existence for about 10 years, but has recently gained popularly, primarily due to budgetary constraints of the current economy.

"A few years ago, we not only saw that the software industry was changing; we saw companies that were trying to make strategic IT purchases being really stretched to justify the costs of large software licenses," explains Jennifer Simich, director of marketing for InfoTronics, the sister company to Attendance on Demand. "SaaS is a very popular and upcoming trend that allows customers to purchase the software on a subscription-based model – a model of 'pay-as-you-go' pricing, which is more palatable these days for companies facing challenges in terms of their budgets."

SaaS such as Attendance on Demand allows users to enjoy the benefits of commercially licensed use without the associated complexity and potential high initial cost of equipping numerous computers with applications that are only used on an "as needed" basis. With Internet connectivity provided through the web hosting service, there essentially is no software to purchase, no substantial upfront investments in software licenses and no need for costly maintenance or infrastructure, explains Simich. The arrangement is particularly attractive to companies with a short supply of qualified information technology employees to install and keep things up and running.

"The software is resident in our data center at a state-of-the-art hosting facility that is provided by Online Technologies Inc.," explains Simich. "The client simply purchases the necessary modules based on the number of employees they have and their unique pay rules. It is really a cost-effective way of getting world-class software without having to make a huge initial investment."

An Evolution

Attendance on Demand essentially starts as a blank canvas, notes Scott Augustin, sales manager of Labor Strategy. "There are [screen] 'views' in the system which are basically queries within the application," Augustin explains. "We customized these views with Piedmont's requested configurations, which adhere to their business culture."

Implementation manager Rick Michel then set up the system specifically to Piedmont's needs. "If they have to make adjustments at any given time," says Augustin, "he understands their system and can facilitate those changes effectively, at no additional cost."

Installation and training for the system took approximately 30 days. The process began with a "payroll survey call" to each department, to obtain a comprehensive view of unique pay rules such as overtime, leave request and time and attendance policies.

"We gather that information and from there we build the system and install it in (our) data center," Augustin explains. "We typically train the end users first and then we have follow-up training with the managers and supervisors."

According to Hilliard, the "straightforward" nature of the system's interface flattened the usual user adoption curve. "It's very simple, very streamlined and very secure," she relates.


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