Payroll Dept. Uses Scanners to Save Money

Although the Calceasieu Parish Schools in Lake Charles, La., have used optical mark readers for almost three and a half years for student attendance, scheduling, grading and other applications, it wasn't until April of 93 that the concept of scanning trickled down to the payroll department. Roughly 60 SR-360 scanners from Scanning Systems, located in Minneapolis, Minn., are installed within the district. However, it wasn't until a district employee attended a meeting at which a scanner was used to process lunchroom payroll data that the idea of implementing this technology in non-student applications came about. He returned and spoke to Wayne Richard, the payroll supervisor, who then met with the district's data processing department to devise a method to streamline payroll processing for all district employees. The district worked with Scanning Systems to develop a three-part, carbonless, scannable payroll form, pre-slugged with vital employee information, that collects data on employee absences, the dates of absence, reason, length, social security number of the substitute to be paid, days the substitute worked and the job code for pay rate. The Old Way Previously Richard and four others handled payroll, dividing up responsibility for the 4,000 bus drivers, janitors, administrators, elementary instructors and high school instructors plus 600 substitute teachers employed each month. They had to make copies of each employee's time sheet. Copies had to also be made of each teacher's time sheet to reflect the number of substitutes hired for that teacher within a pay period. The copies then had to be coded, manually verified and entered into the district's mainframe. "We have an $84 million annual payroll," says Richard. But now a scannable form is sent along with the payroll documents to all principals. The school secretaries fill out the forms, indicating teacher absences and substitute teacher hires -- one form per employee per job. The forms are then returned to the payroll department and scanned in; no copies are made nor is the data hand-entered. Instead it is sent directly to a 386-class computer, then to the mainframe. Never Go Back Problems arose when one of the department's clerks left. Yet after implementing the new scanner system, it was determined that a replacement would not be necessary. The district saved approximately $10,000 in its first year alone; every year after an $18,000 savings will occur. "This was my first time using a scanner," says Richard. "It works so fast that most of our time is spent just correcting human errors. It is performing better than I ever thought it would. I would never go back to the old way!"

This article originally appeared in the 01/01/1994 issue of THE Journal.