Where were you when the page was blank?

Jeff Millard — May 2011

My father used to ask his young engineer recruits “Where were you when the page was blank?” when they complained about the design of something existing that they had to interface too. On the face of it the question implies they should have spoken up much earlier. The subtext, however, was usually that since the design often pre-dated the young engineer’s birth he or she may not yet have sufficient seniority to be disparaging other’s designs. It also reminded people that the original designers designed to the original requirements not to what came along years later with new concepts, methods, tools, or technologies in the mix. So basically if you weren’t in the room when all those requirements were being discovered and decided upon then you probably have no basis to comment. Until my father’s engineers learned this they weren’t invited to anymore design discussions.

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The question is the same in the Kronos Timekeeping and Workforce Management engineering realm—when do you invite the engineers into the room? You know, those configuration gurus that tackle the most complicated of pay policies with an elegant yet simple mix of pay rules, work rules, labor level sets and whatever other maniacal mechanisms the client’s version of Kronos offers.

Generally speaking, Improvizations is in the business of taking our customer’s pay polices (requirements) and making Kronos do exactly what the policies say. As I’ve mentioned in other blogs, we sometimes pause in this effort when the policies violate federal or state law whereupon we suggest they re-evaluate their policies and practices before paying us to cement them in further. Just because you can implement a pay policy in Kronos doesn’t mean you should.

In the case of an FLSA violation that has been going on for years (FLSA--defining Wages and Hours since 1938!) it sure would have been nice to have that savvy Kronos engineer in the room whilst the pay policy page was blank. Or at least when they were implementing the timekeeping and payroll systems that did it wrong all those years. “Best Practice” systems are not distinct from “best practice” policies.

To their credit, most of our customers realize this push-pull interaction between policies and system configuration. This causes many of them to hold us at bay until they discuss, reconcile, audit, negotiate and run through legal 5 times the policies and practices they want us to implement. While we appreciate this effort happening before we come onsite we often find there were many policy choices that could have easily gone one way or another. One way, however would be extremely difficult to do in Kronos and the other way very easy by comparison (not to mention best practice by many Kronos clients.) Why not choose the easiest policy to implement if possible? 

Most common of all, however, is the presence of features in Kronos (perhaps the next latest version) that actually facilitate a policy’s existence in the first place. Examples of these are rounding rules, overtime approval requirements, punch location rules and when all else fails… the humble exception report. Things such as these tend towards the best practice way of implementing best practice polices because that is what floats to the top of  the designer’s “Must do feature list”.      

If your organization is going thru this policy clean-up effort call us before the ink is dry for a quick review of what Kronos can be expected to accomplish and what mechanisms are likely to call for some exotic and expensive way of implementing.  It is more than likely that we have had a client with a similar need and can share real world experience and practical ideas so you will never have to ask us “Hey, where were you when the page was blank?” Chances are, however, if it was an Improv consultant they were probably at some other client configuring Kronos… by candle-light.

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