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January 21,2003

Health Center Preparing To Phase In
Electronic Timecard System
By Pat Keefe

The timecards Health Center employees fill out every other Thursday are going the way of the memorandum in triplicate.

The Health Center is preparing to launch a new system of timecard submission and processing that, depending upon the employee's job classification, will involve either filling out a timecard on the computer or swiping a badge on a magnetic reader.

The system will be phased in beginning July 1 and is expected to be fully operational by September. Training sessions are planned as part of the phase-in.

The system is changing to save money, increase efficiency, and improve accuracy in record keeping. The hardware, software, and associated expenses will cost about $400,000 but are expected to save more than $1 million.

Larry Pittman, director of information management in the Health Center's human resources department, one of the project coordinators, says salaried employees will fill out their timecards online; hourly workers will fill out a form by swiping their badge.

"In the long run, this is going to be a lot easier for everyone," he says.

There's more to the change than meets the eye, Pittman says. With 10 bargaining units, a hospital and schools, and salaried and hourly employees, the current system is complicated.

Besides streamlining the administrative processes associated with payroll, the new system is expected to help managers. For instance, when coordinated with a scheduling system used in the nursing department, the data will allow for better planning and management of the staff.

"The technology exists to automate time and attendance and we want to take advantage of it," says Brian Eaton, director of payroll and benefits in the Health Center's human resources department, the other project coordinator. "An electronic system will save time and money, improve efficiencies, and standardize some things that require interpretation now.

"I'm looking forward to the time when there's not so much paper and when there's not such a frenetic work-process every two weeks," he adds. "I believe the new system will allow us to get through the payroll cycle much easier."

Pittman and Eaton are co-chairs of a 20-member advisory committee, established to assist with the project, that includes professionals, technical, and hourly employees.

Faculty at the Health Center, who are not required to fill out timecards, will be unaffected by the change.