THE STORY — Valley Power Systems
Valley Power Systems had been tracking the time and project work of its field service technicians on paper. Providing proof of their actual time and meal breaks when technicians worked remotely was nearly impossible. Customer chargebacks were costly without irrefutable timekeeping and location data. The manual system also created compliance issues in meeting California meal and break regulations.
Valley Power Systems (VPS) is a factory-authorized power solutions provider for some of the most recognized engine and equipment manufacturers in the world. Headquartered in the City of Industry outside Los Angeles, California, the company provides diesel and natural gas power products, parts, and service to markets such as heavy-duty on-highway, transit and school bus, agricultural, mining, construction and industrial, power generation, and commercial marine and pleasure craft. The Valley Power Systems family of companies employs 400 at 14 locations across the U.S. and does business internationally.
The company had been using an automated Kronos timekeeping solution with its distribution center and office-based employees. VPS elected to upgrade, move to the cloud, and deploy the Kronos Workforce Mobile solution with its field service technicians. Using company-issued smartphones, technicians punch in and out for each job and meal breaks, while GPS functionality verifies the location of each punch. Managers can see daily if these employees have missed punches or have meal period violations, allowing swift correction. The mobile application has significantly reduced chargebacks, while automated timekeeping has streamlined the payroll process and improved compliance with meal and break rules.
Mobile timekeeping reduces chargebacks
Before going mobile, field service technicians added notes about each job, its location, and meal break times to their paper timecards. They typically generalized their time, creating timekeeping liability issues. An administrative person at the nine branch offices keyed the information into the system, but if customers questioned the labor charges on their bill, VPS had no proof of the technician’s actual time at a location.
Now, when field service technicians receive a repair order, they use their smartphones to indicate which order they are working on and select a labor-level transfer for the work order or travel time. The phone’s GPS notes each punch location. Technicians’ repair order time is automatically allocated to the correct division of the company and fed into VPS’s customer billing system. A key benefit is that the nine administrators who used to manually enter timekeeping data now focus exclusively on customer service.
“Most importantly, [with our Kronos mobile solution] we have a time record that can’t be manipulated and an audit trail for everything,” says Ramona Fierro, HR director. “If a customer has a billing question, we have all the proof we need to validate the data. In one year we saved $100,000 in customer chargebacks.”
Accurate timekeeping mitigates compliance concerns
Having accurate time records has also reduced VPS’s liability by improving compliance with FLSA and California meal and break regulations. Previously, when employees brought a class-action suit in California on meal and break violations, the company had no computerized records to show exactly when employees took lunch breaks. Even before agreeing to a $980,000 settlement, VPS began moving to mobile timekeeping for its field service technicians.
Now, in addition to clocking in and out each day, these employees must attest to their lunch and break time. Managers receive email reports daily about missing punches, mealtime infractions, and overtime, allowing them to take corrective action immediately instead of waiting until the end of the pay period.
“We have instantaneous control,” shares Fierro. “We don’t have to wait two weeks to see if there are any issues.”
Cloud hosting increases productivity and reduces costs
The cloud-hosted solution’s immediate updates are a big benefit, says Fierro, as is the level of service provided and not having to hire additional IT staff to manage the company’s large number of transactions. VPS has also been able to avoid hardware expenses. “We avoided costs by going to the cloud,” she notes.
Self-service and visibility streamline workflow
Employees like being able to see their timecard and accrual information from home or at work. Using the solution’s self-service tools, they can verify their time is correct, view accrual balances, and request time off on a time clock, mobile device, or PC. If they have time available, the system routes the request to the manager for approval.
“Managers are paying more attention to timekeeping and schedules now,” says Fierro. “When a time-off request is received via email, at a glance they can see who is on vacation and can plan ahead for coverage.”
Having happy employees improves productivity
With timekeeping automation, Fierro figures her HR team saves eight hours every pay period, allowing them to focus on people-focused services such as employee training. “Training translates into improved morale, which means better productivity,” she says. “Happy employees come to work every day, which helps reduce unplanned absenteeism.”
- The manual timekeeping system used by field service technicians resulted in costly customer chargebacks that were difficult to contest
- Providing proof of compliance with California meal and break regulations was challenging without computerized records of technicians’ actual time
- Paper-based processes reduced managers’ visibility into timekeeping issues and provided employees with no easy access to their timecard and accrual information
- An automated workforce management solution hosted in the cloud, with mobile device capability that gives instant access to time management tasks whether employees are working in the office, distribution center, or in the field
- Field service technician use of mobile devices to track actual time spent on work orders — with GPS functionality that validates punch locations — reduced customer chargebacks by $100,000 within one year
- Using a mobile device or PC, managers can see daily if employees missed punches or have meal period violations, allowing them to take fast action
- Accurate timekeeping data provides attestation capabilities and an audit trail that has improved compliance with FLSA and California meal and break regulations
- The cloud-hosted system delivers the latest solution updates and reduces costs
- Self-service tools give employees anytime access to their timecard and accrual information, increasing employee satisfaction
For more information on Kronos, please visit www.kronos.com.