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Time Tracking & ERP

One of the difficulties with off-the-shelf time and attendance software packages is that some of them do not integrate readily with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, especially if either system is over 5 years old. There are compelling reasons for wanting the two systems to be able to communicate with one another and, in some cases, the answer lies in custom-built applications that enable that type of communication transactions.

Why integrate time and attendance with ERP? Tracking production orders and coordinating them with employee movements, payroll and other departments, results in a more efficient, less expensive to operate system that streamlines both performance and production. Its a work smarter, work less scenario that benefits all departments and impacts the companys profit margin.

One manufacturing company found that integrating labor management with resource planning was the key to success. It uses an ERP system to generate production orders during the nighttime hours, when the system is least busy. The orders are electronically uploaded to the time and attendance system, so that when employees arrive for the day, production orders are already generated and distributed to the production floor. Previously, orders had to be printed in a common computer room and manually transported to the companys separate production facilities - a time consuming process that had to be repeated daily. The new system automated all of those tasks, saving considerable time and money in the bargain.

Scans are completed throughout the day, with work in progress being the first, allowing aged orders to progress to the top of the days work list. Various lots are scanned at various times, producing an ongoing data stream. Data scanned from the production floor is turned into an export file and uploaded to the ERP system at the end of the day. Production orders that have been completed are confirmed in the system, financials are calculated, credit for labor is given, and credits are generated for materials used.

The company, in exploring alternatives, opted for bar code scanners as opposed to PCs due to the significant cost differential. PCs were several thousand each, while bar code scanners cost less than half that amount. These financial considerations played a large role in the companys final decision.

Integrating time and attendance solutions with enterprise resource planning proved to be daunting only in the time it took to make the systems worktogether. Once they were fully integrated, the system was considerably streamlined. The company had to install more lines and more hardware in order to distribute the processing among the polling PCs. However, the new systems allowed a reduction in the amount of tracking necessary for the production process, eliminating steps and improving labor and efficiency. Transactions were reduced from approximately 13,000 per day to only 3,000-4,000. In addition data is no longer getting backed up and out of sequence at key points during the workday, such as lunch hours and shift changes.

The company contends that the addition of more front end modules, such as accounts payable and general ledger systems, will further streamline the system allowing the organization to realize even more profits while turning out better products more quickly than ever.

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