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Time Tracking Software - Biometrics

Using a pen and paper system to calculate payroll or track accounts payable and receivable is a cumbersome and outdated method. There are very few companies, if any, still using actual ledgers to track expenditures and other accounting procedures. Why then hasnt the same trend toward automated systems extended to tracking when employees are on the job and when they are not? Part of the answer is cost and part of it is simply a lack of awareness of different ways to accomplish the task. Many companies have not adopted more sophisticated systems for tracking the presence of employees on the job site.

Biometric time and attendance systems use the physical characteristics of employees to identify them - characteristics like the shape of the hand, the iris of the eye, or the sound of a particular voice. Using such characteristics to verify that an employee has checked in and is on the job is a much more secure way than punching a time clock or logging into a computer. Those methods can be cheated using a practice identified as buddy punching. If a friend is going to be late to work, but doesnt want the boss to know, another employee logs on to their computer for them, or punches them in when they actually havent arrived. Even badge readers can be fooled. They only identify the badge that is placed before them, not the person who is actually holding or wearing it. However, its impossible to fake the iris of someone elses eye, or the geometry of their hand or finger.

Biometric systems prevent buddy punching and save companies thousands of dollars in wages paid to employees who actually arent on site. They can also instantly identify when an employee is going into overtime and trigger a supervisor alert. Both scenarios translate into less lost revenues for the company. However, the types of systems that identify employees based on physical characteristics, while less easy to fool, have their own problems. Take voice recognition software as an example. Voice recognition is a less intrusive method of biometric tracking. Employees initially answer a set of four questions. They are asked to identify a pets name, their mothers maiden name, their favorite color, or some other subset of unrelated, but unique questions. The computer system then randomly generates one of those questions when the employee attempts to check in. The question must be answered correctly, but the employees voice is also identified during the process, so the security system is a dual one. Voices dont always sound quite the same, however, and therein lies the difficulty with the system. If an employee has a cold or the flu any respiratory condition that affects the voice the software may not recognize the employee. Ditto if the employee has given up smoking in the interim since first answering the voice recognition questions.

Employees have their own fears about biometric identification systems. It is disconcerting to wonder if the information gained by such a system might be used in other ways. People are not comfortable with feeling that every move they make - every trip to the water cooler and every bathroom break - is being tracked by someone else. Employers say that such employee fears are unfounded and can be overcome by proper education about the biometric system before it is implemented. If companies assure their employees that the information is used only to track time and attendance, and never put to use for any other purpose, employee fears can be minimized. Although there are a few drawbacks, for most companies, convenience and cost factors generally outweigh the downside to using biometric systems.

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