|CONTRACT, TEMPORARY & PERMANENT STAFFING||. .|
Kelly Services finds huge efficiencies in new payroll & billing system.
Industry: Temporary, contract and permanent staff in accounting, administration and support services, banking and finance, biotechnology, engineering, healthcare, human resources, manufacturing, retail, sales, and science.
Headquarters: United States
Locations: 26 Countries, 20+ offices Australia-wide
Staff: 250 permanent staff
“The previous payroll system was modified for our industry,” Cameron said. “It wasn’t a natural temp payroll system and it did not have a billing function. Therefore, we had billing in another system and we had to build interfaces from one to the other.
“The environment was a lot simpler when we first put in that system, whereas now we deal with over 250 different awards. Having payroll in one system and billing in another was problematic, because it was very difficult to reconcile that what you had paid a temp could actually be billed to a client.”Joanne Cameron
The business impact.
Various changes in Kelly Services’ business slowly converged: its size and complexity grew steadily, causing corresponding growth in its payroll and billing needs, and clients demanded increasing speed, flexibility and new e-business options. These changes made Kelly Services’ existing national payroll and billing systems time and labour intensive and difficult to manage.
Joanne Cameron was the company’s director of human resources for Asia Pacific when she was seconded to act as project manager for upgrading the information systems. “The previous payroll system was modified for our industry,” Cameron said. “It wasn’t a natural temp payroll system and it did not have a billing function. Therefore, we had billing in another system and we had to build interfaces from one to the other.
“The environment was a lot simpler when we first put in that system, whereas now we deal with over 250 different awards. Having payroll in one system and billing in another was problematic, because it was very difficult to reconcile that what you had paid a temp could actually be billed to a client.”
Of primary concern was the hundreds of awards under which Kelly Services paid its many thousands of temporary workers. Awards were often modified by client contracts, giving a huge number of variations. The award rates and rules were maintained in Excel spreadsheets, unconnected to the payroll and billing systems. Duplicates of the spreadsheets were kept for use by staff in up to four places and maintaining them had become a massive task. The accuracy and timeliness of payroll and invoicing were also crucial considerations. Within the highly competitive recruitment industry, with its tight margins, inaccuracy in payroll and invoicing could affect a company’s market position and reputation.
Cameron and her internal team did extensive preparation through user workshops, examination of processes, discussions with customers and other research to devise a comprehensive profile of what they wanted in their new system. The main requirements were:
- An awards interpreter. Kelly Services needed an automated process of applying award conditions to a temp’s job record while having the flexibility for a consultant to amend it if needed. This would remove an enormous burden from consultants, who had to remember hundreds of awards and manually transfer data from Excel spreadsheets into the front-end system.
- Use of the same source data. The Kelly Services team wanted the same source data to be used for what the company was paying to a temporary and for what it was billing for that temporary. Therefore, pay and billing needed to be within one module.
- Efficiency and flexibility. Payroll and billing volumes needed to be processed quickly, but also have the flexibility to meet a range of client demands, particularly with invoicing requirements. Flexible reporting. Kelly Services wanted good standard reports, plus the ability to write its own customised reports.
After an extensive review of what was available in the marketplace, Kelly Services chose FastTrack’s Enterprise Recruitment Management Software Solution.
“FastTrack was prepared to meet our needs,” Cameron said. “There were things that we wanted in the FastTrack product that it didn’t have and they were prepared to develop them for us. FastTrack is industry specific, and we had some experience dealing with them through some of our smaller divisions that were running FastTrack desktop products. I liked the structure of its system with the pay and bill together, and I liked the Award Interpreter.”
Cameron said that FastTrack became a member of Kelly Services’ internal project team. “A FastTrack team member worked on site most days to support the team in its various roles and to solve issues as they arose. FastTrack did a fabulous job and strived to ensure the project was a complete success.”
FastTrack’s project leader for the Kelly Services upgrade, Avi Samson, said that FastTrack aimed to work as a partner with its clients and to build a strong and supportive relationship. He said that working with Kelly Services to meet its needs had led to several important modifications being incorporated into the standard versions of the software. “The great part about it is that we were always able to get the best result,” Samson said.
“Kelly would tell us what they would like, we would investigate the full extent of the functionality required, explore various options that would achieve the best results, including the impact on the existing systems, and then recommend the solution that would provide the most benefits,” Samson said.
Kelly Services also made use of FastTrack’s professional support services, including business analysis and process management. Cameron said the business analysis was important because it revealed how Kelly Services could change its processes or where to customise the FastTrack product to deliver the best solution.
“FastTrack provided advice on process management in areas where we felt we had less experience,” Cameron said. “They often validated our newly developed processes to ensure that we understood the system’s functionality and had matched the process with the system capability.”
“FastTrack’s approach was very supportive, often taking the issue away to examine in-house before delivering their recommendation. These professional support services were a fabulous addition to our upgrading process.”
Kelly Services kept its existing front-end system. Usually the best that can be achieved between two systems from different vendors is to build interfaces between them, so data can be transferred via export/import functions. The Kelly Services team had another solution in mind for the awards interpretation function of the newly constituted system.
Kelly Services wanted the Awards Interpreter to be available to consultants through the front-end system in real time. The process had to be ‘invisible’ to the user. It needed to be as simple as selecting an option or clicking a button to choose an award and having those details recorded in real time in both the front-end and payroll/billing systems – both working off the same source data. It was crucial that there would be just one set of awards data stored in the one place.
Cameron felt this would be an investment in efficiency in the long term. “Rather than have a user step out of one product and into another to get rates, and then having to type them into the first product, it was necessary to get the ‘invisible-to-the-user’ model. The prototype worked well and once we proved it could work, then it was full steam ahead. Just that one small integration between the two systems alone will create huge efficiencies for Kelly Services through reduced rework and eliminating the manual rate updates throughout many systems.”
Avi Samson said FastTrack and the existing software supplier met several times to work out how their two systems could be integrated. “What we both wanted was a win-win for the client,” Samson said. “But it’s not often that you see two competitors in a room saying ‘Okay, let’s work this out and how do we do it’!”
Over time, Kelly Services expects to reap considerable benefits from its new FastTrack applications. These include:
- Greatly improved efficiency, speed and accuracy in payroll and invoice processing, with fewer resources required to handle a higher volume of work. Kelly Services anticipates their payroll and invoicing department will reduce to half of its current size, with their pay run process now completed in under a minute.
- New services for clients and temps, such as electronic billing and reporting, email payslips, and web-based options.
- Greatly improved speed, quality and variety of information available to recruitment consultants from their desktop.
- Business development. The upgraded systems create opportunities for Kelly Services to get into companies and markets that it could not get into before. Kelly Services can now meet more needs in the market and meet its present customers’ needs more effectively.
- Significant overall costs savings to Kelly Services’ operations.
- Improved cash flow, as invoices are despatched, and therefore paid, quicker.
- Reliability. Far more will be automated and less manual intervention and updating will be needed.
Cameron said Kelly Services’ staff were all excited about the new system. “We have high expectations about the changes brought about by the FastTrack additions,” Cameron said. “FastTrack has been fabulous and very easy to work with. I have really enjoyed it.”
About Kelly Services
Kelly Services Australia a large and diverse recruitment company with offices around Australia, is a part of the global recruitment company Kelly Services.