Administrative & Business | News

Des Moines Public Schools Adopts Web-Based Workforce Management Tool

The largest school district in Iowa is shifting from a "1985-era system" to manage time and attendance to a Web-based application. Des Moines Public Schools chose Novatime 4000 Software as a Service (SaaS) from Novatime Technology after an extensive request-for-proposal process to automate its time and attendance processes for 5000 employees at its 60 schools and other facilities.

In the past, the district spent "a significant amount of time" tracking and reporting time worked by employees, Chief Financial Officer Thomas Harper told the Des Moines school board in January. "This creates a great deal of duplication, inaccurate results, a less than ideal user experience, and time spent on tasks other than carrying out the district's mission. It is recommended by the superintendent that the district implement an automated solution which will reduce duplication, improve accuracy, enhance the user experience, and enable staff to further focus on the district's mission. It is estimated the return on investment would be no longer than one year."

Des Moines sought a solution that could capture employee time, automate payroll processing, generate reports and support the kinds of simultaneous user traffic the district knew it would experience. It also wanted software capable of working with both swipe cards and proximity badges for employee login, which Novatime service can handle in addition to punch and kiosk, Web browser, phone interactive voice, and mobile access.

The software needed to be compatible with the district's enterprise resource planning software, SunGard BusinessPlus.

The district has a complex set of payroll-related configurations, incliuding bi-weekly and semi-monthly pay periods, varying work schedules, hourly and salary compensation, and strict overtime requirements. The software needed to support different pay and attendance rules and policies, supervisory-level review and response for online leave requests, and "global" time entry and schedule changes.

Des Moines received 10 RFPs and went through extensive demonstrations of four of the systems submitted before Novatime was selected.

As a citizens budget advisory committee reported after the evaluations, "Novatime is easy to learn, scalable, and many districts [are] using the system. Streamlines the process. Theoretically instead of spending four days working manual system, the pay system will be loaded electronically. It will be transparent, but more accurate."

The first year cost was estimated to be between $404,000 and $500,000 with on-going annual maintenance costs between $161,000 and $200,000, depending on the number of employees.

The implementation includes 80 Novatime NT6500 fingerprint time clocks. These feature Indala Proximity Readers, which allow employees to clock in and out using the same badges that are used with the district's existing access control system.

Novatime products have also been used by the San Antonio Independent School District and Missouri's Riverview Gardens School District.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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