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CommunityOne Streamlines HR Functions

CommunityOne implements a hosted time and attendance solution to streamline HR functions.

Unintended consequences recently netted CommunityOne Bank, a subsidiary of Asheboro, N.C.-based FNB United Corp. ($1.9 billon in assets), two IT improvements instead of one. While considering a new payroll provider, PayChex, in late 2006, the bank learned about another HR automation solution. "Our [PayChex] rep told us about a more advanced time and attendance solution, even though our existing system would have been sufficient," recalls Lisa Ritch, CommunityOne's payroll officer.

With acquisitions underway and more growth in the pipeline, CommunityOne actively was seeking strategic technologies, Ritch relates. "So we began considering time and attendance options early in 2007," she explains. "We considered four vendors. Of the two suggested by PayChex, we liked Attendance on Demand right off the bat."

According to Ritch, streamlined employee management and improved visibility were key attributes of the Attendance on Demand solution. "For example, our previous solution assigned employees to a specific supervisor," she notes. "Whenever a supervisor moved on, it required manually reassigning each employee to a new supervisor. But Attendance on Demand classifies employees and their supervisors by functional group. So it doesn't matter whether an employee or a supervisor changes, because the group stays the same."

Attendance on Demand, a subsidiary of InfoTronics (Farmington Hills, Mich.), also promised improved visibility -- in real time -- at all levels. "Employees could view all of their benefits balances in detail," Ritch says. "Supervisors could stop keeping track of leave requests and attendance-related issues, such as overtime, on paper. For leaves, supervisors could instantly see whether coverage was sufficient to approve a request. To help stay in line with budgets, supervisors could run detailed reports and take corrective action as necessary."

Deploying a hosted solution was an imperative for CommunityOne's IT department, which has only about a dozen staffers and serves 580 employees across 43 locations via a Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft-enabled LAN. "Switching to an in-house solution would have required at least one more IT employee, plus all of the ongoing investment in hardware and site licenses," Ritch notes.

According to Ritch, a test site was established early in the third quarter with an uneventful rollout of Attendance on Demand in mid-September. "We simply provided the IP address of our Web server to the hosting site," she reports. "Then, with minimal training, employees logged in and began recording their hours. Four weeks later, the system created an electronic file that we uploaded to PayChex."

The only challenge in the project, Ritch says, was delaying the PayChex implementation until Attendance on Demand was online. But the delay was worth it, she says, as the new time and attendence solution allows employees to manage their own time-off requests. "For instance, instead of just requesting vacation, [employees] log in to see whether another type of leave is appropriate, such as emergency sick leave, and request leave accordingly," observes Ritch.

And the solution's added administrative granularity is improving regulatory compliance and streamlining various HR chores, Ritch says. Further, "Any time you make an effort to keep accurate records, it's a plus for employee respect and retention," she adds.

While Ritch would like to see the ability for employees to clock in via phone added to the solution, the shortcoming hasn't been a real problem. "[Attendance on Demand] has definitely opened our doors for growth," she says.

Institution: CommunityOne, a subsidiary of FNB United Corp. (Asheboro, N.C.).

Assets: $1.9 billon (FNB United Corp.).

Business Challenge: Streamline payroll functions to enhance productivity and enable growth.

Solution: Attendance On Demand's (Farmington Hills, Mich.) hosted time and attendance solution.

Anne Rawland Gabriel is a technology writer and marketing communications consultant based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Among other projects, she's a regular contributor to UBM Tech's Bank Systems & Technology, Insurance & Technology and Wall Street & Technology ... View Full Bio

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