Presence Not Presents!

James and Phill discuss some of the significant issues that SME owners face when running an hourly paid workforce manually, using paper and/or spreadsheets.

In practice, manual timesheets translate into weekly presents and stolen service. Here’s why….

Gifts to Staff:

Fact – Humans build inaccuracies into manual timesheets (accidental, negligent or deliberate)

So sticking with paper/spreadsheets equates to a gift to your workforce of between 5% & 20% each week through your payroll, that’s in addition to the time you pay them for their work.

Stolen Service

Having your staff capturing their time on paper or spreadsheets, your managers then checking them and then having someone keying into payroll, converts into at least 1 Hr per member of staff per week….but often more.

Not much?  Well it’s a full-time person per week if you have 40 members of staff

That’s an extra full-time member of staff that could be providing services who’s been ‘Stolen’ away from your business.

And that’s why we talk about:

  • Capturing ‘Presence’, not giving presents each week.
  • Retrieving that stolen time and giving it back to Service delivery (to increase quality and/or income)

PLUS creating rotas/schedules more easily

PLUS no end of extra value by having data you can use to make informed staffing decisions

How are you managing your hourly workforce now?

Drop me a message…Why don’t we have a 5-minute chat?



Morning, Phil. So when we said this morning we were going to talk about this thing called presence is generally part of time travelling and managing time. So presence. Let’s start with what business owners of small medium sized businesses want to achieve. When it comes to presence, what do they actually want to be happening?

I think they might be looking to improve upon how they presently do things. And there’s lots of variation, how they do things. And then and it’s easy to improve on a lot of them because it often involves laborious and inaccurate paper timesheets perhaps, Excel files, or maybe even none of those. There are plenty of people in work without a system of governing their time at work, which leaves everybody guessing, perhaps working too hard to work out how much to pay them, for example, which is always important and and they lose out on so much that’s available to a business owner, they’re missing vital information to make good decisions for efficiency for improvement to their service, whatever that is. And when they see what a waste of time it is managing time. I think it’s a it’s a compelling thing for for business owners to know that they need to do something differently.

Right. So, because they just want to record it accurately, they want to understand what time has been spent on what so that they can staff effectively. And then they’re frustrated by all these timesheets and spreadsheets and stuff. What does that situation look like in real life for these business owners with with paper and spreadsheets, what’s actually going on?

Well, paper timesheets. A typical when I was a new client or a client that comes to me, I often see there’s paper, timesheets involved as Excel files involved. And it looks fairly awful from my perspective, and they don’t know yet how awful we’re going to find that out. So um, and if you imagine so, a business a typical sized business, while a good example is a real example 250 members of staff at one of my clients using paper timesheets. Now they would create their own paper timesheet. So in effect, they’re marking their own homework. They take that to their line manager who’s busy and they tick it and sign it off without really checking and then that goes to the office for an administrator to digest it somehow. Whether there’s a check, I don’t know but they turn it into something that goes to payroll to their accountant. If we imagine, if we underestimate that that’s a 15 minute thing to do takes 15 minutes for those three stages. And they do that every week. In a month, your paper timesheet has cost you an hour of your team’s labour. And remember, it’s stuff that you have for every single one. And if that’s it, obviously, it’s a different hour because it could be £11.50 or £18 or £25, whatever, whatever that is. It’s cost you that much to deliver timesheets. And that’s startling on its own, that’s like a secondary benefit of being better informed or doing something better or doing something accurate.

And so they just, they save that money by changing a process straightaway,

right. And so but so that’s, that’s, that’s one of the things. That’s one of the Things that that can be achieved. But automating taking all of these people, half paying attention to what they’re doing, and turning that into something tangible. There’s there’s the accuracy, accuracy implications of doing it manually, isn’t there?

Yeah. So amongst clients that start that leave paper timesheets behind and start using a good recording system of governing time and attendance, and when they look at the before and after, I’ve got clients and we’ve got a range of between 5% and 20% change in what their payroll costs them. Now, their business is still their business this week as it was last week. So nothing’s changed about their delivery of service. What’s changed is how much it costs them. Because the the error perhaps, in the paper timesheet system is revealed. We see it Yeah. 20% at the top end

Saving that is I presume you mean rather than an increase?

Oh well it only goes in one direction doesn’t ask. Yeah, it’s a saving.

Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So there’s, there’s actual hard cash savings in the payroll, there’s that while there’s, there’s wastage, there’s just paying people more than they need to in this manual form. There’s the time and the cost that that takes. And then because it’s paper, and it’s spreadsheets, there’s no visibility of what’s actually happening anyway, in order to be able to staff accurately.

Sure. So you need good data to make good decisions. And then a system that records that you have a constant eye on what you did and how you did it, and did that work. So you have information to improve upon what you do.

Yeah. And a lot of people get very wedded caught up with their use to their manual systems obviously a lot of people are afraid of the change involved in bringing in technology gotta be just particularly in this world of hourly paid staff. I mean, it really has to be simple. So what are the simple things that are needed that can work in making that change?


Well, I guess once they pick a really good system, running it alongside their paper for a while, eases it in, there’s this process involved in introducing new things to a large team, of course, plenty of information, plenty of instruction, time to digest. And I quite like from my perspective, I quite like the parallel system time, because it’s when people start to fall in love with what you’re showing them is the good really good bit. Yeah, as far as people are concerned, you have to make it for the team. You make it easy. You make it hassle free, you make it immediate. There’s no learning curve at all. It has to be immediate. It has to be transparent. It has to be fair. If for any reason they suspect unfairness, instantly you’ve lost so I’m a middle child. I’ve got fairness through every part of my body. I understand it implicitly. So I’ve been systems I love systems that are fair. Yeah. And, and so do large teams of people.

Absolutely. So got to be fair, got to be simple, got to be intuitive it needs it’s going to need to capture the time. The system itself needs it needs to manage the time through. You told me in the past about shifting managers from having to spend all this time approving paper in spreadsheets into just shifting it to managing by exception.

Yeah. So if you’re doing a paper system you manage every part of that process the timesheet is observed entirely by perhaps three people but with a system software system perhaps you it an intelligent choice and intelligent digestion of the data it can reveal exceptions meaning that based on good information and good evidence a software system should say these are all fine yeah that will find these are the ones you need to look at lateness, bad timing, absence missing a shift not long enough too long as well too long as an exception. And these are the ones you should look at everything else we’ve determined to be fine. So you manage only the problem.

Nice and and then I guess needless to say it then just goes through to payroll don’t need to re-key or anything like that?

Yeah, there’s all sorts of ways to intercept and check before it gets to payroll. But largely speaking, over time, as people relax into a system and they understand it more, and they become more confident in how their team have interacted with it, how their managers have interacted with it, and how their administrators can just rely on press the payroll button, because we’ve all seen it, because we’ve all done our part. And it doesn’t take that long.

No. Well, let’s let’s, let’s have a look. Then let’s look at the, the Alpaka version of how this can be simplified.

Alpaka Presence is an app on this is my iPhone, but it’s on Android also. And it’s just a it’s like a pin pad and the camera is active so that the team can either wave a QR code in front of it or put in their PIN, and hit enter, that’s me arriving for work. And these devices because you can get any cheap Android phone, you can put them in as many locations as you like around your business. And what happens is we get to see, if I go to Presence, we get to see the traffic, the comings and goings of our team.

Where we’ve got Erica here who arrived at well, yes, you arrive because it’s 5pm on 13th of August. We know she arrived because this result has not got a corresponding pair. Obviously, when you come and go, that’s a pair and the time in between is how long you were at work.

Sorry, just so I know who who am I looking at this right now, Phill?

Oh, so this is a genuine client. They’ve got 250 members of staff across multiple sites, nine different locations. I think this is a genuine team. That’s not their real names so I anonymized it for the purpose of being able to show it to you. So Randall might have been called Susan a minute ago or whatever, but so don’t worry. And the colours and everything you see is designed to draw the eye fast. So common colours mean people have the same roles and responsibilities that they’re different kinds of employees from different departments. So for example, if this was a care facility, the light blue, they would be nurses perhaps or domestics or whatever. Anyway, Site A saw Randall arrive at quarter-past two, that’s great.

We’ve also got further down here. We’ve got Jeremy who arrived at two o’clock nearly two o’clock and then left at 2.45. Now here’s that first decision making thing to explain is that that was 45 minutes on site. And Alpaka has determined that there’s an issue here, because that’s not long enough based on what we know about Jeremy whether he’s already on a rota somewhere or his contract hours, or previous attendance records, it uses all that information to decide was this good enough and it has decided that it was not. So there’s an issue.

I can click that. And it tells me it was short by three hours and 14 minutes. So there was an expectation of time 4 hour shift, and it’s short. And here’s one where it’s entirely satisfied that Gabriella arrived at 10. Probably a close call Gabriella. She left at three minutes past 4 that was a six hour and two minutes by the time the rounding is all done and for which we’re going to pay Gabriella six hours so it works out the difference between the natural duration and it uses the evidence to work out the payable duration because Gabriella could have had a break an unpaid break. And these are the ones the complete ones are the ones that we don’t need to manage, because there is sufficient evidence for us to rely upon that being correct. Yeah. So this is traffic. Another good view that a manager, the owner of the company, perhaps might be looking at is who’s missing? So we’ve got traffic, but what’s the expectation that doesn’t match the reality of staff coming and going, and here, I’m observing my hourly paid and zero hours, part of my team. And we’ve there’s an expectation that Jaden has got things in their calendar, and she hasn’t shown up. There’s no evidence of her being present on this day. She didn’t clock in anywhere. So she’s on this list. She’s made it to the missing list for for me to create an absence for her perhaps, or call and see that she’s okay. And do something about it replace Jaden to fulfil the requirement, there’s brain training and rehab planning to do I need someone else to do it now. And of course, Sue she turned up but she was late. So she makes it to this list for me to deal with.

So you’ve got you’ve got lateness here, not just absence, presence and and time if you’re if someone’s persistently late, you’re going to managers get their managers going to be able to pick it up.

Yeah, of course, I mean, the more information that we can present in a simple way, the better people will understand how that team moves, and who are the people to pay closer attention to, and how can I improve my team or use of my team? Given what I now know about them? I know more now. Yeah. And then the last thing to do is take a look at the totals so this would be a view of the week commencing ninth of August for my whole team here, what I’m looking at is so who have I got there, Gabriella has got three complete presences she came in went three times. Now that the reason she has a green line is because it matches what we know about her. An 18 hour contract she does 18 hours a week. her time on site was 18 hours and six minutes. Cutting it fine again, Gabriella. So that’s six minutes more than we needed her for, but we’re going to pay her 18 hours. And the green line means that’s an absolute win for everybody. Yeah, not everybody gets a green line because 36 hours is what we expect from Maya and she only did 24 that we’re going to pay her for. It’s not something I would need to pay attention to. It’s just that should I choose to I can investigate why she did less than her contract. And then the last thing I want to show you is lets Find someone who’s utterly terrible and well in fact, there’s that here we go, we’ve got Anne and wood whats her name Anne Woodard, one complete so well done and three issues not good enough.

So if we, what we can do is take a look at and individually work out what wasn’t good enough. This is me managing the exception. And we can see that Anne, oh I know exactly why. So she arrived at Site F four times this week, she turned up and did shifts that worked out to eight hours 45 and eight hours. And the reason they’ve been marked as issues is because there is insufficient evidence for Alpaka to be confident that that was what she should have done. And normally underneath here has picked someone that has

so is that because she those those were her contract hours, does Alpaka know that those were her contract hours?

No, there wasn’t enough of any information about her. So perhaps she’s a new member of stuff. I’m just trying to find someone good here where and this page is designed to make it fast for me to do my job. And I don’t recognise any of these names because they’re anonymous so I can’t, I haven’t got a go to person to check. And but what this page does is it shows me what they did at the top. This is perfect. What they should have done down the bottom. Now here. We’ve got what they did Monday and Wednesday and it matches what we recorded Monday and Wednesday. Yeah, what she should have done also was a Saturday and it’s red, because Louise didn’t turn up.

And I very quickly can see that she didn’t entirely fulfil what we had in the rota for her. So stop there because after this point, we start to get into how I do that, which is very fast, but not at all.

No, I think this kind of gets the point. So we’ve got we’ve got staff instead of filling in timesheets, they’re just putting in a PIN or they’re showing their own QR code to a device when they enter the building when they come into work and equally, same procedure on the way out, that’s just automatically collecting their entry time, their exit time. And then that goes into Alpaka engine to flag to managers now, colour coded helped, here are the things you need to pay attention to because they don’t conform with the rules that you have given me. And therefore managers are just focusing on that, which which could well benefit the member of staff as well as the business. And then that data once checked, just on an exception basis can go straight through the payroll of I got it.

Exactly that yes.

Excellent. Wonderful. Nice and simple, brilliant.

Glad you think so

I saw loads of other stuff there. Well, it’s you know, if you’ve designed this brilliant behind the scenes, but the the idea for simple folk like me Is it just is to be really simple, because that’s the way it needs to be. But I noticed a load of other things up on there on rotors and schedules. We’re going to talk about that another time. Right?

35 Years talking to 1,000's of Business Owners in Companies tiny and vast reinforces how difficult it is for us all to take a moment to step away from the complexity and detail......and then to simplify it. My joy (and privilege) is to be able to help Business Owners and Individuals do that. To help refocus on what really matters and then to work with people to remove as much frustration and pointless time wasting so they can achieve more....personally and in their business. #itsnotrocketscience.

Comments are closed.