Finding the key to labour visibility

Scott Linke, senior consultant at Mitrefinch, shares his thoughts on workforce management challenges and how the use of software could save a lot of time and money.

When certain factory-based businesses expand their workforce, scheduling and rostering can be an issue, especially with workers that do overtime or flexi-time. Mitrefinch’s Staff Scheduling & Rostering software enables the automation of this scheduling and rostering –  ensuring the right staff are on hand, while keeping costs as low and possible. Time-management software creates staff schedules that meet the needs of an organisation, team, department or client in a fraction of the time it would take manually with paperwork or timesheets.

Originally from England, the company started in 1979 and was one of the first time-management suppliers in the world. Here in Australia, they set up as a subsidiary of Mitrefinch Global in 2003.

Today, 14 years later, they are closing in on the 500-client mark with the bulk of those being in manufacturing and distribution across all states that have a workforce size of between 50-500 people.

“We consider ourselves to be part of the human capital management (HCM) supply chain providing workforce management software. What that really is, is managing the pay of blue collar workers,” said Scott Linke, senior consultant and business development, Mitrefinch.

“When you think of the manufacturing pay conditions in Australia, they can be quite complex. And from that point of view, being a product that was originally developed in England, the pay structure was similar to that of Australia and, because of that, the product also works very well in Australia,” Linke explained.

Easing the time

The prime proposition of Mitrefinch is automating the pay process. In many organisations, where old paper methods like the punch card system are still being used, employees clock in and out at the start and end of the day. Then, the punch cards go to a payroll office where the payroll officers have to work out the elements of each worker’s pay. In this case, they might be entitled to overtime or whatever the pay agreement says they are entitled to get.

“So, what Mitrefinch does is automate that punch card process that pretty much cuts the process down to a very short time,” said Linke.

Linke explained that, for a small business process, the old systems could still be manageable. But by the time that business reaches the size of a 50 to 75 workforce mark, the business becomes more difficult to manage.

“This usually ends up as the trigger point for that company to go and say this is where they need a better process to manage their growing workforce,” said Linke.

“However, as with any time and management process, accuracy is key because one of the biggest concerns for manufacturers today is overpaying or underpaying the workers. Larger manufacturers may have a more sophisticated system to manage this, but most medium enterprises do not. With the face of manufacturing processes rapidly changing, it would be best for them to consider a system like ours,” said Linke.

The software and the value add

Linke cited an example of a client that uses their software in the distribution business where there was an operations manager, who was spending about two thirds of a day every week, going about looking through paperwork.

“In a business, it is not financially sound for the company if the operations manager spends that amount of time on that kind of paperwork,” said Linke.

“With our software, it essentially cuts the process time down to a matter of a few minutes per day and the operations manager could then focus on proper operational tasks that he was hired to spend his time focusing more on.”

One of the key value adds that the software provides for the business is the visibility of labour. In the manufacturing space, labour takes up a large chunk of the costs involved in the business. In this vein, manufacturers are trying to move towards a more dynamic workforce – labour on a needs basis for certain periods.

“Part of our software is to do with scheduling that caters to this dynamic workforce. One of our clients does production planning 24 hours in advance and they use our software to go out and find casual workers to get those workers in within the time frame,” said Linke. In this case the client is managing the whole allocation process of staff according to the dynamic nature of production.

The software also enables an operations manager to get visibility into his day-to-day cost of labour. Where a manufacturer has variable labour like large numbers of workers who have overtime, expenditures, they will be likely to have a lengthy process of sorting the pay hours out with the accounts department.

“But if you have a system like ours, the manager can now view the hours put in by each worker daily and easily. This gives the operations manager a much easier time managing the overall labour costs,” said Linke.