William is the GSC’s Customer Services Administrator — and he has the demanding job of making sure that every one of the Centre’s 185 staff is paid on time and within budget. Not easy – especially considering the GSC’s seasonal visitor trends and high volume of casual staff. However, William reckons that he can usually get it done in about 30 minutes a week. We found out how he does it…
Ever fancied climbing into a giant hamster wheel to measure your stamina, or being part of a DNA disco? If so, then welcome to Glasgow Science Centre, a 5-star visitor attraction in the heart of Glasgow. This is the world of William Brannan, a 26-year-old sci-fi fanatic with a love of Lego and a reassuring grip on reality.
Over a cup of coffee in the busy GSC Admin Headquarters, William cast his mind back to the difficult days before the Centre installed Rota Horizon – a time management and rostering system from Thinking Software. William and his team were struggling with the demands of coping with large seasonal variations in staffing requirements, together with budget-busting increases in overtime and casual employee cost.
As William explained, We need to cover many more hours in the summer than in the winter, and have to plan our rotas to accommodate, the peaks and troughs of the attraction. We simply had no way to manage the extra costs of seasonal working.
Finally, five years ago, William decided that they’d struggled enough.
“We knew that the ideal way to employ people is on an annualised basis, but given our business profile, this is really difficult to manage and monitor. In the early days, all of our systems were paper-based and very labour intensive. So staff hours were difficult to control, and overtime was running at an all-time high. Thinking Software seemed to be the only company able to manage complex rosters on an annualised basis.
Thinking Software's Solution
Thinking Software installed Rota Horizon in 2008, and as William admits, it wasn’t an instant success. “We hadn’t anticipated all the planning problems we’d face, but lucky for us, the trainers and developers at Thinking Software stayed with us and solved the problems as they arose.
Rota Horizon has now been implemented across our whole 10-acre site, and it gives us the tools we need to plan and model shift patterns to make sure they’re within budget and represent the right mix of staff. Our rosters can be planned up to 2 years in advance, and give us both a predicted and actual cost.
William was also positive about the hardware installed as part of the Rota Horizon solution – “The swipe readers used to capture the in’s and out’s of staff activity are located in the entrance to the office, and our employees find them reliable and easy to use — all they have to do is select whether they’re coming or going and put their card through the reader. It’s easy to see where team members have forgotten to swipe.
As for reporting, Rota Horizon gives us a full reconciliation of actual versus expected hours and cost. Once we’ve dealt with exceptions and errors, we used the system’s automatic payroll interface to do the input for both casual and monthly staff.
Our overtime bill is now a fraction of what it was before, and since our reporting is done by anomaly and exception, it doesn’t take long to correct every week. Rota Horizon also allows us to monitor most of our HR Department’s requirement for reporting holidays, sickness and repeat incidences of lateness.”
“Rota Horizon is integral to the budgeting and day-to-day management of our business — it makes us plan better, and in a more cost effective way. On top of these benefits, the support we get from Thinking Software really puts them on our top supplier’s list — they’re always so helpful and nothing seems too much trouble. They’re quick to respond, and happy to work with us to provide a perfect solution for our needs”.
My favourite reports are the “Year View” and the “Contracted Hours Status” — both of these are easy to navigate and give a fast picture of employee working-time issues.
When we asked William to summarise his experience, he was quick to focus on ease-of-use and customer support as two of the main attractions of the Rota Horizon system. “The software is very easy to use and people pick it up quickly, probably because it’s quite pictorial and has the ability to show you the whole story on a page. It’s simple to highlight issues and problems, track trends and give managers meaningful information on their staff.”