With dozens of offices, programs and departments, governments need simple and cohesive workforce time management systems that support timekeeping and labor communication. Acumen Data Systems troubleshoots challenges and suggests unified solutions for any scale- municipality, county, or even state. Acumen met the needs of the Chemung County administration with our cohesive approach to time and attendance, utilizing the full suite of Acumen software to simplify, centralize, and automate employee timekeeping.
Welcome to Chemung County, New York
Chemung County- covering 411 square miles- beats with the vitality of a modern business center, yet remains peaceful in nature. It’s home to nearly 90,000 residents and is the gateway to the Finger Lakes region, a popular tourist destination famous for its history, geography, and culture.
For the government of Chemung County, providing essential services to its population and growing number of tourists is a top priority. Department heads must carefully manage their budgets to ensure tax revenues are used effectively and efficiently. The County’s employee base of more than 1,000 covers as many as 60 programs, services, and departments, making the accurate tracking of time and labor even more complex.
In fact, managing employees’ time and labor information had been a challenge for the County for years.
“We had an antiquated time and attendance system, but employees were keeping time in a lot of different ways- mostly on paper- and we couldn’t get the consistency with how rules and policies were being enforced,” says Tom Drum, Information Technologies Specialist for Chemung County. “We needed a system to fully automate what were mostly manual systems and systems that were outdated.”
Chemung County turned to Acumen Data Systems- with ClockVIEW, WebCLOCK, ShiftVIEW and ClockVIEW Mobile– to implement a centralized, automated workforce management solution that provides consistency, minimizes compliance risks, and controls labor costs with efficient timekeeping.
Meeting the Needs of a Growing Administration
“In our old time and attendance system, employees all across the county from our Sheriff’s Office to our Department of Social Services used to fill out paper time-off requests,” Drum says.
“It was time consuming as supervisors had to collect, review, and approve them. Not only that, but at the end of a pay cycle, the clerks would end up having to find the employees who had incorrect or missing punches.”
There were other challenges too. “We have several 24-hour departments, including our Sheriff’s Office and Nursing Home. Administering policies such as shift differential and on-call pay was consistently hard to manage.”
Uniting a Workforce and Centralizing Timekeeping
Chemung County government uses Acumen Data Systems hardware and software to manage time and labor across 60 different departments and offices. All employees, from the administrator’s staff, to road crews, to recreation department coordinators, all use Acumen software that interfaces with New World Systems for processing payroll. Acumen’s simple solution for Chemung can be found on the county homepage: at the bottom are links for employees to click to clock in or clock out using WebCLOCK, or to login to ClockVIEW to review their timecards.
Creating a centralized, automated system has made it easier for Chemung County to have confidence in information and react to the changing makeup of its workforce.
“Acumen knew that taking on Chemung Country was going to be a big project,” says Tom Drum, Chemung County’s Information Technologies Specialist.
“And they delivered.”
“We needed the data in one place, along with a set of consistent processes,” says Drum. “Acumen lets us address various legislative, union, and policy-based challenges. We can do a change in one place using Acumen and not have to worry about how managers across the county are going to interpret the rule. Acumen does it all.”
Compliance is less a concern than ever before. But creating consistency and ensuring policy compliance are just the beginning for Acumen’s improvements to Chemung County’s employee timekeeping.
Simplifying Compliance with Unionized Employees
Of course, Chemung County didn’t always have the flexibility of Acumen Data System’s software. Chemung had been using an older platform-specific time and attendance system for more than twelve years.
As the complexities of bargaining agreements between the administration and unions became increasingly complicated, it became obvious that the system they were using was no longer capable of handling these changes. Especially because now the majority of the County’s employees now belong to a labor union. Another concern was that Acumen’s system had to be ready to handle the variety of pay rules contracted by the seven different unions represented in Chemung County.
With every union having their own standards, members, and goals, it would be impossible to effectively and accurately follow each of their scheduling rules without automation and well-tuned employee scheduling software.
With the old system, managers or county clerks missing or misinterpreting union rules could possibly slip by unnoticed, which made the county liable, and under-served the county’s unionized employees. Acumen automation turned that situation around, to ensure employee’s union benefits are upheld, and scheduling costs are efficiently minimized.
For instance, a civil service union has rules for a 16-hour day with two different lunch breaks and overtime to kick in at 40 hours. This is simple enough to write a scheduling rule for, but it could be easily overlooked by a manager or clerk manually parsing hundreds of paper timecards. Even a simple error could lead to an expensive breach of contract.
Another union has a rule that if an employee works more than eight hours in one 24-hour period, the extra time is considered overtime. For example, an employee is scheduled to work on a shift from 8 am to 4 pm, and on the following day they are scheduled for 7 am-3 pm. The employee would be paid overtime for 1 hour worked before 8 am. Another simple rule, in theory, that would be unbelievably easy to overlook if a manager wasn’t careful.
“Crazy,” Drum said. “That’s the only way to describe some of the bargaining agreements we have to deal with.”
“Acumen works well because when union contracts are revised, we only have to make the changes once. And we aren’t relying on each clerk understanding and possibly misinterpreting the contract changes. All of the information is centralized in one place,” says Drum. “We get detailed information easily and when we need it.”
Building Novel Solutions for Unique Department Needs
Providing uniformity and compliance is the first step, but providing a customized experience is what Acumen Data Systems excels in.
Naturally, Acumen was also able to customize unique solutions for many individual departments in Chemung County government.
Take the Sheriff’s Office and Jail, for instance- home to about 150 employees including supervisors, police officers and corrections officers.
Most are required to arrive for work at least fifteen minutes before the start of their shift in order to be briefed on the work expected of them for the shift. As long as they punch in on time, they are awarded extra compensation for the extra fifteen minutes.
But if they punch in even one minute “late” (in this case, fourteen minutes before their shift), they are not compensated. The auditing of this extra time had been handled haphazardly in the past with many discrepancies in who earned the extra pay and who did not.
Outlining policies with clear custom features ensures employees are always compensated fairly and adhere to policy.
One of the ways Acumen customized this solution for Chemung County’s Sheriff’s Office and Jail was to optimize a Briefing Pay and Show Pay feature in the software. This allowed easy, online add-ins for scheduling so that pre-shift briefing time could be captured appropriately and sent to payroll.
“We have biometric finger readers in our law enforcement offices,“ Drum says. “The great feature here is that if, for whatever reason, the reader doesn’t recognize an employee’s fingerprint, the time clock actually takes a picture of the employee, time stamps it, and puts it into the Acumen System. A supervisor can check it later, find the picture for the employee who couldn’t punch and approve the punch directly to the time card.”
The same improvements to the clock-in system found here work to prevent time-theft, buddy-punching, and incorrect timekeeping. All of these are improvements to hourly efficiency and prevent losses for Chemung County, too.
“Before Acumen, employees never had the option to view their own time card,” Drum says. “Because of this, many employees simply didn’t care if they punched in or out because they knew the clerk would call or physically find them at the end of the pay cycle to correct the employee’s hours. It was a very inefficient and time consuming process.”
“The Acumen solution got rid of a lot of paper,” Drum says. “It gave employees access to their own time card and forced them to take responsibility for their time in the system- that was really one of the largest changes- employees making sure it was correct. Now all the clerks do is review payroll which frees up a lot of their time.”
Drum says at least a quarter of each of the 22 county clerks’ time used to be devoted to tracking employees hours. “The clerks are free to do other tasks, and productivity increases,” he says. “Employees out in the field now use the application ClockVIEW Mobile on their cell phones to punch in and out themselves instead of just turning in a sheet of paper at the end of the pay cycle.”
Even county administrators have tailored solutions to make their busy jobs easier to manage: a one-punch is designed for administrators, where the system clocks in and out automatically. All they have to do is punch in once per day at any time during their shift to confirm they’re on the job, which is a great fit for salaried positions and employees who work irregular hours for the county.
All together, it’s the little improvements to each job and department that clearly sets Acumen above the rest when it comes to providing time and attendance.
Serving and Supporting Acumen’s Administrative Partners
Just as important was Acumen’s customer service for employees and system users throughout Chemung County. “We’re never put on hold,” Drum says. “And the Acumen support staff knows the product completely- even our custom programs.”
Even the intuitive, custom-designed functionality of the Acumen system came as a surprise. “If you require any code customization from most other time and attendance vendors, good luck with that,” warns Drum. “Believe me, we went down that road before finding Acumen.”
The Acumen solution came through again, as Tom Drum sums it up:
“The bottom line is that we have a lot of unique requirements that, without a doubt, we couldn’t have gotten out of any other time and attendance package.”
Acumen Data Systems: Experts in Timekeeping and Employee Scheduling
Acumen Data Systems is a leading provider of time clock and employee scheduling software. We help organizations manage their most valuable resources, the human kind. Acumen offers robust solutions for time and attendance, scheduling and leave management.
We believe that technology is just one quarter of the workforce management pie. Employees, policy, and the environment are just as important.
Do you have questions about our comprehensive solutions for administration employee timekeeping?