How CHC Hydronics Got a Grip On Labor Costs

How CHC Hydronics Got a Grip On Labor Costs


How CHC Hydronics Got a Grip On Labor Costs

What do universities, data centers and hotels have in common? They all need highly-customized heating, ventilation and cooling systems to help maintain an optimum temperature and keep occupants (human and machines) happy.

That’s where CHC Hydronics steps in. Headquartered in Hayward, California, CHC is a leading provider of plumbing, mechanical and HVAC equipment to commercial buildings and project engineers across North America. Operating two factories and partnering with over 100 contractors, the company designs and supplies these custom-built systems to fit within each client’s unique space and needs.

Challenges

With dozens of shop floor workers and field service technicians spread across hundreds of active manufacturing and field service projects at the same time, it is important for CHC Hydronics to understand how much time and labor it spends on each client, and on each product line.

To that end, the company has always used a time-tracking solution to help them keep track of how much time employees were spending on different tasks and projects. Before they implemented PK4 TimeTracker, CHC was using another third-party solution for labor tracking in their production plants. However, this solution presented several limitations in scope and use cases, and challenges:

Lack of features: It only had limited features and functions, and lacked the in-depth capabilities for CHC to be able to sort and analyze their time data across different dimensions (e.g. by manufacturer, product line, or salesperson).

Inflexible deployment: The prior solution only allowed them to track in-house factory labor. It could not accommodate time tracking for remote field service technicians, who needed to use manual timesheets to track their time spent on each servicing project.

Poor integration: CHC needed a modern solution that was aligned with their new cloud-based ERP solution, but their prior solution did not integrate with their Salesforce-based ERP system, FinancialForce.

This prompted CHC to look for an alternative solution that could meet its evolving needs for time tracking.

Solution

In 2019, CHC Hydronics implemented PK4’s Time Tracker as an upgrade to replace their prior solution. They also integrated the PK4 TimeTracker with Financial Force for better visibility.

Results

Integration with Financial Force
With both Financial Force and the PK4 TimeTracker being on the Salesforce platform, CHC was able to integrate the two platforms easily. All the shop floor workers’ time was directly integrated with Production Orders on Financial Force. The service technicians’ time was integrated with Sales Orders in Financial Force. In both cases, when a Project is completed on the Time Tracker, a labor line is added to include the cost. Thus enabling CHC Hydro to have a very accurate picture of the labor costs both on Production Orders and Sales Orders.

Improved Time Tracking Convenience and Accuracy

PK4 TimeTracker allowed CHC to integrate time tracking across two different groups of employees, unifying time tracking for both shop floor workers and field service technicians for the first time.

CHC Time Tracker Dashboard
CHC Time Tracker Dashboard

With versatility in deployment formats, CHC was able to deploy the time tracking app to end users in a format that best suited them: for shop floor workers, this meant clocking in and out via a stationary iPad kiosk on the factory floor, whereas field technicians could track their time spent on each assignment with a convenient mobile app.

Whereas shop floor workers were already used to these time tracking procedures, field technicians reported much greater convenience with the elimination of manual time sheets which they had to submit daily, as well as improved accuracy now that they could check in and out of projects on the spot. For CHC Hydronics, accuracy was of utmost importance, as they needed to make sure they were compliant with California’s Prevailing Wage labor regulations.

Ease of Integration, Data Reporting And Analysis

Secondly, the ease of integration of the Time Tracker with Salesforce and FinancialForce also enabled data automation and more robust, in-depth reporting. Combining factory production data and sales data from their ERP system with time reports from Time Tracker, CHC could now create dashboards and reports allowing them to track labor across several different dimensions – by project or client, product line, technician, etc.

These insights into their labor expenses proved useful not only for internal decision making – it also gave the company leverage for negotiating with business partners and clients. In particular, they could share detailed reports on time spent on projects and servicing to negotiate for better terms and rates.

Overall, the feedback from employees and the IT team has been very positive. Patrick Hamilton, IT Manager at CHC Hydronics highlighted the partnership and support as particularly outstanding: “PK4 worked closely with us to design a solution to fit our needs. The support we receive from PK4 has always been top notch, and any issues we face are always quickly resolved!”

CHC quote about Time Tracker

Tech Components 

  • Salesforce Sales Cloud
  • PK4 TimeTracker in Salesforce
  • PK4 TimeTracker Mobile App for field service engineers
  • PK4 TimeTracker Kiosk app for shopfloor
  • Financial Force integration.

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How MercuryGate Plugged Revenue Leakage from Support Cases

How MercuryGate Plugged Revenue Leakage from Support Cases

How MercuryGate Plugged Revenue Leakage from Support Cases

As one of the leading transportation management software providers, MercuryGate International simplifies and centralizes freight transportation for logistics companies across the world. Their platform supports all modes of transport including ocean, air, rail, truckload, last-mile, parcel, and intermodal. 

Based out of Cary, NC, Mercury Gate has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Logistics IT Providers by Inbound Logistics Magazine. MercuryGate also provides integrations, technology, and managed services partnerships.

Challenges

MercuryGate Support is billed separately to some of their customers. For those customers, it is not a part of their subscription fees. With a Services Implementation team, a Customer Support team, and a developer group all working on customer-facing issues, MercuryGate had a hard time keeping track of the actual time spent on specific customer cases.

Since Services Implementation was usually a timed project service, that team used a Professional Services Automation tool called OpenAir to track their time. And that worked very well for the Services implementation team. However, as the Tier 1 and Tier2 Customer Support teams grew, it became imperative for the Support team to track their time. In addition, the developer group needed to spend time on Customer Support cases too, which also needed to be tracked.

Disparate Platforms: The Services Implementation team used OpenAir to track their time and material-based projects. The Customer Support team worked on Cases within Salesforce but needed to additionally log into OpenAir just to track the time that they spent on customer cases. The developer group used Atlassian’s Jira to keep track of their work. But they too needed to log in to OpenAir to record their time.

Siloed Systems: None of the systems talked to each other. Each group worked in a separate silo. It was hard to convince the Customer Support and Developer teams to record their times in a separate system. Following that, the accounting team needed to run reports in OpenAir to get an extract of the time worked on Cases and then download those reports as Excel sheets to send over to their billing system.

Poor integration: Since the Support Team spent the maximum amount of time on Customer Cases and worked completely in Salesforce, MercuryGate needed a system that would work easily and accurately within Salesforce.

This prompted MercuryGate to look for an alternative solution that could meet its evolving needs for time tracking. 

Solution

In 2021, MercuryGate implemented PK4’s Time Tracker for Salesforce. PK4 added in a webhook module to automatically bring in developer work logs from Jira identified by Salesforce Case Number back into Salesforce.

Results

Intuitive, efficient time tracking for Support Team

MercuryGate implemented PK4 Time Tracker’s Salesforce Lightning component within their Case object. The support team now saves time and has a much more intuitive system, because they can now stay on the Case in Salesforce. They no longer need to access a separate system to track their time. And ALL hours spent on a Case are now accurately tracked.

Improved Time Tracking Convenience 

PK4 TimeTracker automatically brought the Jira work logs that were already being used by the Developer Group directly into Salesforce, tied to the specific customer case. Developers previously had to double-log their time in Jira and OpenAir. Now, they did not even need to click on a button to get their hours into Salesforce. The hours that the developers recorded in Jira are automatically brought into Salesforce through a webhook, provided by the PK4 TimeTracker.

Sometimes, the Professional Services Team that did the original implementation for the Customer needs to work on a customer case. Most of the PSA team does not have access to Salesforce. Those team members now use the PK4 Time Tracker web app to log the time that they spent on a specific Case. And that data too is automatically synced to Salesforce.

Decreased time and inaccuracies.

Before the PK4 TimeTracker was implemented, the Tier 1 and Tier 2 support teams needed to log into OpenAir to log their times. Because Accounting billed customers based on their Case numbers, the support team needed to create a task in OpenAir with the Salesforce Case number. Since the support team spent most of their time working on cases in Salesforce, they needed to spend additional time at the end of the day recording all the Cases worked during the day in OpenAir. This led to a lot of dropped hours and inaccuracies in the Case numbers. MercuryGate was reconciling time between Jira, Salesforce, and OpenAir making the whole process inefficient and inaccurate. With the PK4 TimeTracker in place, the whole operation now is streamlined and smooth.

Increased billing

Within the first month of implementation, MercuryGate noticed that the billed time for the development group and the PSA group had gone up. Because of the double logging issue, developers were reluctant to log into a second system and record their time. Now with the Jira work logs being brought automatically into Salesforce, all work hours spent on billable cases are being accurately recorded. This has turned into real dollars for MercuryGate since the developers were doing billable work for customers that were not actually being billed.

Tech Components 

  • Salesforce Sales Cloud
  • PK4 TimeTracker in Salesforce
  • PK4 TimeTracker Web
  • PK4 TimeTracker Jira Integration.

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How Johnson Controls Enabled Cost Accountability for its Sales CoE

How Johnson Controls Enabled Cost Accountability for its Sales CoE


How Johnson Controls Enabled Cost Accountability for its Sales CoE

As a Fortune Global 500 company, Johnson Controls is a worldwide leader in providing building technology solutions. With over 105,000 employees across 2,000 locations, Johnson Controls equips buildings across the world with automation systems, HVAC equipment, security and more, to keep their occupants safe, healthy, and secure.

Behind the company’s US$31.4 billion worth of sales sits the company’s Center of Excellence on Sales Operations – a network of engineers, contractors, and program managers which supports global sales teams with drafting project blueprints and designs. 

Challenges

While the Sales Operations Centre of Excellence (CoE) was previously embedded within separate business units, it was reformed into a separate business unit following a corporate reorganization in 2019. As an independent business unit servicing different regions and divisions across the company, the CoE was now an independent accounting entity. It maintains its own financial statements, accounting for (internal) revenue through billing other business units for services performed, and costs through careful tracking of employees’ time. In order to accurately charge these costs back to separate business units, time tracking was now an integral part of this accountability. 

Adding to this complexity was the fact that some sub-teams within the CoE already had established legacy solutions and practices for time tracking. While some employees were new to time tracking, others were using disparate time tracking systems. For instance, while one team in Costa Rica was already using a time tracking system, another in APAC was tracking their hours manually on spreadsheets.

In their search for a time tracking solution, the Sales Operations CoE team at Johnson Controls had two key requirements. Firstly, the solution had to provide a seamless user experience. Secondly, the time tracking system had to be integrated with Salesforce.

PK4 Tech’s Time Tracker stood out as a strong contender as its deep integrations with Salesforce meant that time tracking data could easily be integrated with other sales and operations data already on the CRM platform. This helped to minimize the implementation complexity and efforts. 

Solution

With the goal of unifying all teams under a standardized time tracking solution, Johnson Controls first started with a phased introduction of PK4 Tech’s Time Tracker. Within the first 2 years of implementation, 1,000 of over 4,000 employees in the global CoE organization were onboarded to the Time Tracker.

Results

Improved Time Tracking And Cost Accountability: With the Time Tracker, employees were now able to log their hours with a level of granularity that was not possible before. For instance, where previously, the CoE team only tracked hours on a general basis, they could now break these hours down into pre-sale vs post-sale support, coordination time, administrative time, etc.

This, in turn, has enabled the CoE to provide detailed statements of work and invoices when charging their services to other business units. The detailed breakdown of labor costs and services allows the CoE team to improve the accountability and accuracy of their cost chargeback.

Deepened Business Insights: With the custom Salesforce reports and dashboards, management could now get a comprehensive review of their business, and access granular data like labor and service cost breakdown by region, project type, or even task type. This provides Johnson Controls with more accurate data and information for resource planning and strategic decision-making. 

Reduced Overall Administrative Burden: The integration with Salesforce also helped to reduce the administrative work required from both end-users, as well as the management and finance teams. Employees within the CoE team were already familiar with using Salesforce and introducing a time tracking system within the CRM platform greatly eased their transition towards this new time tracking process. Furthermore, having the Time Tracker integrated into Salesforce also allowed for the synchronization of data on labor costs with established invoicing and finance processes, minimizing the administrative efforts for the finance teams.

Tech Components 

  • Salesforce Sales Cloud
  • PK4 TimeTracker in Salesforce
  • PK4 TimeTracker Mobile App
  • PK4 TimeTracker Web App
  • Microsoft Azure AD integration for Single SignOn.

Download Case Study in PDF Format

How To Stop Employee Time Theft

How To Stop Employee Time Theft

Most employers would probably like to think that they can trust their employees and employees will be honest for the most part. However, we can never be entirely sure that the people working for us won’t take advantage if given the opportunity. Indeed, a study showed that 43% of employees who have filled in timesheets had exaggerated the length of time they worked. Studies have also shown that around $400 billion is lost every year in lost productivity in the United States, further highlighting the need to address the problem.

Employee time theft comes in several types, and not all of them are necessarily deliberate. Some of the most common include: 

  • Charging for time spent on personal tasks
  • Buddy punching is a practice that involves an employee’s co-worker punching in for them despite the employee not being at work. Buddy punching alone is thought to cost approximately $373 million alone every year
  • Employees deliberately adding extra time to their worksheets
  • Employees not clocking out for breaks
  • Field employees claiming to have been working but performing other tasks, or even staying at home instead
  • Accidentally overestimating time worked.

Time theft is a real problem for many companies, especially in times of uncertainty. However, one of the most significant difficulties companies face regarding employee theft is that it’s challenging to detect. Managers cannot monitor all employees at all times, especially where field workers are concerned, and honest errors can be particularly difficult to identify. However, you can take some steps to overcome the issue.

Establish Clear Policies

One way you can help overcome some of the issues is to put a deterrent in place. Your managers can let employees know that they’re aware of problems like buddy punching and that employees will be reprimanded if caught doing so. The act of bringing up the topic alone can avoid complacency among employees and deter them from punching in for friends. Make sure to be polite and respectful when reminding your employees about your policies, but also make sure that you’re firm. Acting on indiscretions will help to send the message that you will not tolerate time theft.  

Educate Management

Quite often, the signs of time theft are right in front of us, but we won’t spot them if we don’t know what we’re looking for. For example, what might appear to be a case of an employee working later than others could easily mean that they’re not being honest about their time sheet. After all, it’s a lot easier to be dishonest on your time sheets when there’s nobody around because they’ve already gone home for the day.

Educate Employees

In many cases, time theft might be down to misunderstandings that you can easily clear up with simple communication. You should also make it clear to employees when it’s reasonable for them to record to add time and when it isn’t. You can also educate your employees on the potential harm that time theft can cause businesses, potentially even placing their jobs and their colleagues’ jobs at risk.

Use Time Tracking Software

Software like the PK4 TimeTracker will help to ensure that time is tracked accurately and fairly. For example, the buddy punching system won’t work with time tracking software because employees have to be logged into their computers or on their own mobile devices to track time. The system also helps prevent forms from being filled in erroneously, while it also helps management see which tasks their employees have been working on.

Time tracking software will also help ensure time is recorded accurately for field workers. The time tracking app can record an employee’s location through GPS, so you know they were in the right place. The software is also easy for employees and managers to use, while reviewing and approving timesheets is also made simple, further helping to ensure accurately recorded time. 

Overall, time tracker software will help to empower teams to work better and be more productive. Time sheets will more accurately reflect work that has been done while also giving management access to helpful information such as how much time employees spent on particular tasks. Such information will help management see if time is being spent effectively, helping them make their teams more productive while also helping to reduce frustrations.

 

 

Managing Employee Paid Time Off Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult

Managing Employee Paid Time Off Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult

Managing Employee PTO[/caption]Every worker deserves time off, and paid time off (PTO) is one of those perks many companies choose to offer. Reviewing and approving paid time off used to be overwhelming, but with modern tools in place, managers can now focus on more important things.

Similar to traditional leave, with paid time off, employees get paid when taking personal time off, vacation days, sick leave, time off during federal holidays, and parental leave. The only difference with PTO is that employees don’t have to give a reason for taking paid leave.

How much PTO should you offer?

Since paid time off isn’t federally required, you’re probably wondering how much time off should your company offer. Short answer – it’s totally up to you, but in this competitive work environment, providing PTO will contribute to happier, more productive employees.

Statistically, US businesses offer an average of 10 days of PTO per year, while European workers are guaranteed between 20 to 30 paid days off – that’s a whole month off! 

Before you get all envious, you should learn that modern businesses have recently embraced the concept of unlimited PTO, provided that employees still get their work done. It works great for young workers who value their autonomy and flexibility, although many of them end up taking less time off than the average.

How to effectively manage PTO requests

Leave management can become very complicated, especially if you have to handle a high number of employees. Many companies still log PTO requests manually inside a spreadsheet, which makes for an inefficient and expensive process.

If you’re an HR manager in the digital era, you’re probably balancing different types of employees – remote or on-site, salaried, hourly, or part-time. Logging mistakes when managing PTO could lead to unfair payment and open up your company to potential lawsuits.

This is why you need to run a tight ship and have great systems in place. The best way to do this is to establish ground rules and use modern time tracking tools that allow for seamless PTO management.

Define the rules in your employee handbook

Creating a standard policy on taking paid time off is the best way to go, especially if you have many employees and they all come to you with their individual problems and requests.

Inevitably, leave requests will overlap during times like winter holidays, and you’ll be the one prioritizing which employee gets time off. So how do you make that decision?

A few popular policies you could have in place are:

  • First come, first served. This type of policy takes out a lot of the guesswork and makes sure all workers are fairly treated.
  • Seniority-based. Time off is granted according to the employee’s “rank,” although, because of their vital experience, taking time off is not always feasible.
  • Reasons for making the request. Personal reasons such as sickness, burnout, parental leave, or family issues should be discussed and, if possible, prioritized.
  • Flexibility of the request. When completing the PTO request form, employees should mention whether their vacation dates are flexible or not.
  • Taking time off too often. You should set rules to prevent employees from requesting time off too frequently or during times when it impacts productivity.

Your employees may have personal issues, or they may be prone to burnout, and as a manager, you have the final say in allowing them to take paid time off.

But keep in mind that favoritism can get the best of you at times, so use your better judgment and adhere to company guidelines when managing your workers’ paid leave.

Use a tool that easily tracks time off

Time tracking has come a long way. Modern time tracking tools are now indispensable for efficient project management – everything gets logged, and time off is no exception.

Managing Employee PTO

Managing Employee PTO

 

Our leading time tracking tool for Salesforce, PK4 Time Tracker, is built to easily manage PTO days. Inside Time Tracker, the PTO Current Status displays Total Days, Available Days, and Pending Approval Days.

Users can log their desired PTO days by selecting the PTO type (personal, vacation, sick, other, etc.), the start date and end date of their leave, and send it for approval.

Managers can edit total PTO days for their employees and approve or reject requests. The available days get automatically updated as employees use their time off.

This entire process is organized within a simple interface, where you can have a bird’ eye view of your workers’ activity.

Needless to say that this automatic system of vacation management takes a lot of pressure off of HR managers.

There’s no more back and forth communication – all the information is out in the open, and employees can feel confident that they get fair treatment when it comes to their earned paid time off.

As a professional, you can’t run your business arbitrarily. Having a set number of PTO days, establishing a universal policy, and tracking hours, including time off, are all essential to your company’s productivity and your employees’ wellbeing.

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