More than 4,000 University of Alaska employees have transitioned to a new web-based time entry system that is faster, safer and easier to manage than paper time sheets. The new online interface allows employees and their supervisors to access the system from almost anywhere with a secure Internet connection. The change is expected to save more than nine tons of paper annually, as well as eliminating printing costs and the need to physically store paper.
“The new system is faster, more flexible and reduces the risk of making a mistake,” said Heather Arana, a human resources systems specialist. “Employees’ hours worked or vacation hours used can be easily reviewed online at any time. The reduced paper handling has been beneficial for every department.”
The online time entry interface was specifically designed and tested to be easy to use and intuitive. Programming behind the scenes provides safeguards for accuracy and consistency, reducing the potential for errors significantly. All of the information moves automatically into the payroll processing system.
“The university employee base is unique. We have faculty, staff and students. One person may go to the same office everyday while another is doing research on a boat in the Arctic Ocean. We needed a way for everyone to provide pay information easily from a diversity of locations,” said Donald Smith, interim chief human resources officer. “The complexity of the university meant either buying a million dollar solution or rolling up our sleeves and doing it ourselves. We are building this system in-house and the results so far have been impressive.”
Job changes are quickly reflected in the system, allowing an employee to charge time to the right account immediately. In the past, the Budget Office would spend hours manually adjusting payroll to reflect funding changes, job transitions or new grant funding. The time spent making adjustments manually has been reduced by more than half.
The team is well into its work on phase two of this project, which is to build a similar interface and process for salaried employees. They are expanding on the lessons learned from phase one and working to create a product that is easy to use and meets the regulatory needs of each group of exempt employees. Completion for this second phase of the project will be in March 2013.