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Choosing a Kronos replacement: 5 things to consider

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By now, you’ve probably heard about the ransomware attack that disabled Ultimate Kronos Group (UKG) and took their services offline. (If not, you can read about it here.) Thousands of customers were affected by the outage in December, forcing them to look for alternative timekeeping methods just before Christmas – one of the busiest times of the year for retailers. The purpose of this article is to help businesses in the process choosing a Kronos replacement. If you were (or still are) affected by the outage and plan to resume the use of Kronos’ products when they’re back online, don’t worry: we’ll tell you how to choose a good stopgap, too.

Things to consider when choosing a Kronos replacement

Because Kronos is a full HRIS management solution with payroll, timekeeping, and scheduling, choosing a replacement may involve looking at several different standalone applications. Or, you may be able to find a similar all-in-one product that works for you. Either way, you’ll want to focus on finding cloud-based SaaS solutions. (SaaS stands for ‘software as a service’. Meaning, software that you access according to a subscription, usually with a monthly recurring charge.) A major benefit of SaaS-based products is that they typically don’t require a 3-year contract. This will allow you to cancel your service if you want to return to Kronos later. Because they’re typically easier to set up and implement, SaaS products also reduce implementation time and cost.

Lastly, you’ll want to find products that integrate with your existing point-solutions and tools. If the solutions you find can’t integrate from the start, make sure they at least offer APIs that will let you connect to your existing systems quickly. Below, we’ll cover these 5 things to consider when choosing a Kronos replacement:

  1. Implementation speed and cost
  2. Integrations into existing solutions
  3. All-in-one versus integrated solutions
  4. Scheduling considerations
  5. Timekeeping considerations

1. Implementation speed and cost

If you’re in a time crunch, one of the biggest priorities is finding a solution with a fast, quality implementation at a low cost. That’s where the cloud-based SaaS solutions often shine. Since there’s no hardware or software installation required, setting up can be as simple as providing some basic employee and account data to the vendor. With that info, they can get you set up rapidly.

For example, TimeForge was recently able to get a grocery company up and running in under 9 hours. Within 2 days, the company’s managers were already trained up, and they were tracking time at their stores. That kind of turnaround may seem unlikely if you’ve only ever used on-premise solutions. With a SaaS vendor, however, it’s definitely possible.

When discussing implementations with a vendor, make sure to get answers to these questions:

  1. Can your system import data? If so, what file format does your require?
  2. How long does it typically take to get employees clocking in and out from initial contact to go-live?
  3. What are the costs involved with setting up?

The answers to these questions will give you a good idea of what you’re getting into before diving too deep into negotiations. If any of these questions come back negatively, with a long setup time frame, high cost, etc., you’re likely better off looking for another solution. For example, we’ve been waiving setup fees for businesses affected by the outage.

2. Integrations into existing solutions

On top of being able to get up and running quickly, another big priority to consider is whether the vendor integrates to your existing solutions. Or, if not, whether the vendor has APIs you can use to that effect. Look for products that, without development, can automatically integrate into your other solutions or offer flat files you can use to transfer data between systems. A good time and attendance vendor will have numerous automatic and flat file integrations into several different systems. Often, these will be listed somewhere on their website. For example, we list all our integrations here.

If you’re looking at a scheduling provider, make sure they’re able to integrate into your point of sale. This will allow you to handle your current budget and sales-to-labor metrics (like SPLH), so that you can keep your labor expenses in check. Even if you’re just looking for a stopgap measure, we still recommend choosing a Kronos replacement that offers a POS integration. It may be some time before Kronos is up and running again.

3. All-in-one versus several integrated solutions

When choosing a replacement for Kronos, whether short-term or long-term, it’s important to consider whether you want an all-in-one solution like Kronos, or several different best-of-breed solutions that can integrate together.

All-in-one solutions can be fantastic, as they centralize reporting, costs, etc., in one spot, though in the event of an outage, you’ll want to be sure the vendor you select has a robust backup plan to minimize any potential disruption to your operations.

On the other hand, using several integrated solutions can help you reduce the pain from a single outage. If your time and attendance solution goes down, you’re still able to write down time and send it to payroll, for example. The problem with using different solutions, though, is that they can sometimes have long delays between sync intervals. Some systems only talk once a day, and that can cause friction for operations, where more rapid communication and response is needed.

TimeForge offers the best of both worlds: our platform has integrated scheduling and timekeeping, but we also support payroll exports, 15-minute sales syncs, and have a robust backup system.

4. Scheduling solution considerations

Now it’s time to take a look at the nitty gritty. Beyond the overall things to look for in a Kronos replacement, there are a few things you’ll want to consider specifically around scheduling. Here’s a few questions to ask your potential vendor:

  • Does your scheduling solution offer a mobile app? Does it cost money? Can employees view their schedules and swap shifts on it?
  • What kind of reporting do you provide for schedules?
  • What automatic penalties do you support around secure scheduling legislation? (If you’re in an area with fair workweek or predictive scheduling laws.)

There are many more questions you can discuss around scheduling, but the above three should offer some insights into how it will impact your operations. A mobile app can provide peace of mind, especially in a time of transition, and help make sure your team stays up-to-date on schedule changes. Keep in mind that some companies, like HotSchedules, actually charge for their mobile app. Accurate penalty tracking for secure scheduling laws (if applicable) will make sure you’re staying legally compliant and not exposing your business to unnecessary risk.

5. Time and attendance solution considerations

Time and attendance is a critical factor for any company when looking at alternatives. We recommend asking your potential vendor the following questions:

  • What types of overtime does your solution track? (Very important if you operate in California or Nevada.)
  • What reporting options are available? 
  • Do you offer break tracking? Paid/unpaid?
  • Does the solution track meal and rest break penalties? Right to rest? Clopens?

You’ll also want to make sure it integrates with your payroll provider.

If the solution isn’t able to provide coverage for all of your needs, make sure they have an alternative method to support tracking and reporting on those. A good, robust attendance management solution should be able to offer reporting and tracking for all of the above. TimeForge does, but it actually goes a step further with numerous proactive compliance features. These features are designed to prevent labor law violations from happening in the first place.

We sincerely hope you weren’t affected by the ransomware attack that took Kronos offline, but if you were, we hope you found this article on choosing a replacement useful. If so, you might also check out:

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