Shenandoah University prides itself on offering students cutting-edge technology.
Our university has a long-standing policy of providing all students with laptops and tablets to help foster collaboration and improve productivity.
Yet in some other ways, we continued to be mired in the past. Until recently, we used a manual, paper-based system for collecting employees’ time, managing their leave balances, and calculating payroll. Not only did this approach take too long—preventing our payroll specialists from working on other important initiatives—but it also introduced the element of potential human error into the equation.
Cory Nelson and Sandy Sowder, payroll specialists at Shenandoah, both remember how this approach used to work.
“The whole process was too complicated and simply took too long,” says Nelson. “We had to collect employees’ timecards, manually calculate their hours and adjustments before being able to process each payroll, which inevitably led to errors and lost time. In fact, this approach could take up to two days every payroll period.”
Sowder remembers another related challenge: tracking employees’ time off and leave balances.
“Our employees tended to keep their time-off information using paper forms or spreadsheets, and then attempt to show how much time off they thought they had,” she says. “While we trusted them, this ‘honor system’ approach really didn’t give us a good understanding of where we stood at a particular time.”
For a university with such a track record of using technology to its full advantage, continuing to rely on such a manual system simply wouldn’t work anymore. We knew we had to find a better way.
Finding the Right Workforce Management Solution
The university had considered workforce management solutions in the past, and while we knew it was a good idea, it just never became a top priority. While there was no real “trigger event” this time, we simply decided the time was right.
Once the decision was made, we quickly established a cross-functional committee—complete with representatives from HR, payroll, finance, IT, and other departments—to carefully evaluate prospective vendors, and ultimately, pick the one solution that was right for us. We carefully came up with our list of requirements and criteria we were looking for, but one stood apart: the solution had to be cloud-based.
This cloud-based requirement was not a ‘nice-to-have’ item on our checklist; it was almost necessary. Cloud technology was the direction the entire university was going with other systems and vendors, and we wanted to be consistent with this approach with new technologies.
More specifically, we were looking to minimize the amount of hardware we had on site as well as the software we had to maintain.
We didn’t want to have to worry about installing, maintaining, or upgrading the system. Additionally, we wanted to gain all the benefits associated with cloud solutions—such as system uptime, stability, and redundancy. We knew vendors of cloud-based solutions could provide these benefits, so this is whom we wanted to partner with.