Leveraging ERP for Time Tracking? Here’s What to Consider
Originally designed to manage core finance and accounting processes, implementing and maintaining an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system has become a near-ubiquitous staple in the business world. They don’t come cheap, however – and after dedicating an extensive amount of time and money on implementation and deployment, multinational companies hope to rely on these backend systems to help them manage enterprise time as well.
This is where the problems begin. Stepping outside the safe confines of finance and accounting, the time tracking features included within an ERP system are just that – a feature. In essence, an accessory pieced together only for meeting needs applying to a small percentage of an organization, ultimately sidelining smaller departments, raising costs, and making deployments inflexible, fragmented, and tedious. Consequently, companies must spend even more time and money to avoid gross pay and revenue errors, resulting in squandered overhead and wasted time. Businesses end up manually seeking out other solutions, and haphazardly assembling a mess of solution-dictated processes.
These current systems of time management are clearly not sustainable, but what can be done? The options are worth examining:
Upgrade the ERP System
While it sounds simple enough, attempting to upgrade a legacy ERP system is deceptively complicated. The longer a system remains in place, the more entangled it becomes in a company’s ecosystem, rendering an upgrade or even rip-and-replace nearly impossible. Installing the software in the first place was pricey and drawn-out; upgrading exponentially so. Prepare to spend millions of dollars, expend hundreds of hours, and disrupt numerous processes during the transition. With frustration up and productivity down, an upgrade may not be a truly effective solution.
Go for Customization
Customization may be a viable option with only one or two departments to contend with, but the moment a larger organization with more approval structures enters the fray, customization falls apart. ERP is often accused of catering to the lowest common denominator, and with good reason – companies that choose this option ultimately find themselves looking for workarounds to meet unique business demands. The process is expensive, invasive, and ultimately still leaves gaps in features after configuration is completed. In short, customization lacks scalability, increases spending, disrupts existing processes, and wastes time.
Consider Something New
There’s a common thread with the previous options. Each one essentially treats time tracking as an afterthought; a half-baked feature tacked on to an ERP system to convince businesses into believing they have a complete solution for all their needs. What businesses need is not a feature, but a dedicated response to a real problem. When it comes to influencing factors like profitability, productivity, project visibility, and labor compliance, time must be recognized as a key asset, and not a footnote.
So you know what doesn’t work – now it’s time to examine what does. Here are a few qualities worth taking into consideration when choosing an effective time management system:
1. Time tracking should not be a feature or footnote
It should be a full-fledged product, built to modernize and mobilize your ERP with no disruption to current systems. We’ve ruled out a rip-and-replace already, but a plug-and-play solution would minimize change management and provide a valuable extension to the life of your ERP investment.
2. An intuitive, mobile user interface
With a modern and intuitive UI, businesses can drive rapid adoption from all employee types, including those out on the field. A true modern solution acknowledges the importance of accessibility for mobile and deskless workers. State-of-the-art solutions provide a mobile app utilizing cutting-edge tech, such as machine learning and AI-powered self-service capabilities, to equip your remote workforce.
3. Covers all use-case specific needs
One or two point-solutions aren’t enough; an effective solution acknowledges the need for many simultaneous use-cases, such as time and gross pay, project costing, professional services automation, R&D tax, grants, shares services, and job costing. Time is spread across so many processes in an organization, and with no system of record, they only grow more fragmented and disjointed. An effective system is built to unify these departments by solving any use case for time.
4. Comprehensive end-to-end workflows
By including global time and gross pay, built-in invoicing and revenue recognition, organizations can tailor a solution around their specific needs, eliminating customization feature gaps and saving both time and money. A flexible framework for adjustments will help avoid the need for reimplementation and limit the need to upgrade the ERP later.
5. Prebuilt support for compliance
A solution with built-in compliance may sound like a luxury, but the hazards of non-compliance are many, including revenue leakage and litigation risks. For multi-state, multi-jurisdiction organizations, streamlining time data management can be a tall order unless there is a framework in place for monitoring changes and updates to labor laws.
6. Scalable and Configurable
True scalability keeps pace with business process changes, accelerates business growth, and meets future organizational needs. While classic ERP systems can handle basic clock-in/clock-out functions, specific departments within an organization may require more complex structures than these functions provide. Similarly, smaller countries may have policies distinct from a larger office in another country – but without one unified platform, there’s no cohesion.
7. An all-inclusive system
A legacy ERP can’t offer true integration, scalability, or configurability. While the options are numerous, few can deliver on the necessities. Today’s workforce has changed – its needs are diverse, mobile, and they deserve full usage of the technology available in their personal lives.
See how Replicon’s Time Tracking platform can modernize your time management and enhance the effectiveness of your legacy ERP system:
“By avoiding the need to modify any of our backend systems, we were able to develop a mobile, employee-friendly, front-end solution, without having to make any changes to, or incur any down time on, our other systems. Implementation was quick, and the integration with ERP has been seamless, providing all the necessary information that we require for further processing.”
-Olcay Yilmaz, Finance Director, Siemens Rail Automation Holdings Ltd