Problem: Significant hospital growth, varying time and attendance processes system-wide
Solution: Automated time and attendance system
Results: Full automation, consistent application of payroll rules and payroll accuracy
"We didn’t have to ‘train’ API Healthcare on our issues; they had done it all before. From their work with other healthcare clients, API Healthcare had identified virtually all of the rules that we would need. We created very few custom rules."
"There’s a minimal amount of manual entry required for employees to be paid according to our rules and policies. We also have confidence in the way the rules are being set up and in how automation is consistently putting our policies into practice."
Human Resources, Payroll Systems Consultant
Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems
A RIGOROUS SELECTION PROCESS
In May 2004, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems (EMHS) began the process of selecting a new time and attendance solution to replace the one implemented in 1992. Employing a staff of 6,700, EMHS had grown considerably over the years and needed to integrate 15 of its 33 affiliates, including several still using manual time cards.
EMHS established two primary goals at the outset: 100 percent automation, and ease of use for managers and supervisors. Doreen Herrin, Human Resources Payroll Systems Consultant, requested information from 18 vendors. She requested proposals from 10 of those companies, and the top four, including API Healthcare, were asked to give on-site demonstrations.
Because numerous facilities would utilize the new time and attendance solution, Herrin invited department managers and staff from payroll, finance and information technology to evaluate the systems. About 70 participants from the various affiliates attended a two-day demonstration, during which each vendor presented their product.
Herrin devised strict presentation guidelines. “Each vendor adhered to a format that demonstrated how its system performed critical functions, such as access to time cards, time-card approval and reporting,” she says. “We wanted participants to be able to make ‘apples-to-apples’ comparisons.”
Following the demonstrations, each attendee completed a formal evaluation. “The overwhelming majority preferred API Healthcare’s Time and Attendance Solution for its ease of navigation,” Herrin says. “Compared to the heavily text-based screens in the other vendors’ products, API Healthcare’s icon-based interface really appealed to the participants.”
With vendor presentations complete and participant feedback in hand, Herrin prepared a comprehensive report for senior management. The report summarized participant responses; outlined vendor proposals; gave an implementation timeline for each product; and projected each system’s total cost of ownership, including licensing and maintenance fees, implementation charges, first and second year costs, and leasing versus purchasing fees.
Time and Attendance emerged as the clear leader in virtually every category, and Herrin’s report recommended implementation of the API Healthcare product. Senior management unanimously agreed.
With a contract signed, EMHS and API Healthcare began the pre-implementation process of rules testing for the facilities that would be using the new system. It was during this process that API Healthcare’s exclusive healthcare focus began to show its value. “We didn’t have to ‘train’ API Healthcare on our issues — they had done it all before,” Herrin says. “From their work with other healthcare clients, API Healthcare had identified virtually all of the rules that we would need. We created very few custom rules.”
The first EMHS facility to implement time and attendance went live in May 2007, and the phased rollout was completed in early March 2008.
API Healthcare’s Time and Attendance Solution has achieved the primary goals identified at the beginning of the project: automation and ease of use. EMHS has also gained new confidence in the way rules and policies have been established and put into practice. A major source of that confidence arises from EMHS being able to take charge of the rules in the system. API has given the EMHS staff the tools to make their own corrections to issues, such as shift differentials, as they arise. This rules empowerment has also generated significant cost savings, since EMHS does not have to pay to customize rules whenever indicators change.
On the user side, Herrin describes the response from managers and supervisors as “excellent.” Managers are benefiting from much-improved functionality—from running reports to making approvals online. In fact, now that managers know how easy it is to generate management reports, they’re asking for the ability to make custom reports, which will be available soon. Employees are also satisfied with improved access to their time cards, time-off balances and calendar requests through on-site information stations and an Internet portal.
For the now paperless payroll department, automation has provided numerous benefits. “We’ve moved beyond data entry to ensuring that employees are paid correctly,” Herrin says. “Exception messages, for example, automatically alert staff members when a manager hasn’t accounted for all of an employee’s hours as either unpaid or paid.”
Herrin and senior leadership are glad they chose the time and attendance solution that best met their needs. “API Healthcare wasn’t the least expensive system,” Herrin notes, “but we looked beyond that to consider total cost of ownership. I’ve spoken with my peers using other systems, and they’re facing some very difficult challenges in defining rules. This lack of automation brings a significant cost that we’ve completely avoided.”