Kronos Helps San Diego State University Stores Improve Workforce Mgmt.

Aztec Shops is using Kronos to help improve efficiency by simplifying hours tracking and scheduling.

Orlando, FLA.—At San Diego State University, some 600 students work in the school's Aztec Shops Ltd., which includes the campus bookstore, the school's dining halls and restaurants, several convenience stores and other retail operations, where they serve fellow students and get work experience to put on their resumes.

Managing the time cards, work hours and time-off requests for those students, and for another 300 employee managers and other staff, is a ballet of numbers, hours and careful record-keeping for the operations. To do that specialized accounting, the Shops use a workforce management suite from Kronos, according to Leah Messenger, the project and payroll manager for financial services at the Shops.

Messenger was here for KronosWorks 2013, the annual customer event for Kronos, to find answers to some of her biggest questions about how the Shops can continue to expand and improve on their use of the Kronos workforce management suite, which has been used for years for staff scheduling. In July 2012, the Shops moved their Kronos deployment to the Kronos cloud, and Messenger is now seeking additional ways to leverage that investment.

The Shops uses the whole Kronos suite, from HR to payroll to performance reviews and more, she told eWEEK. The next step being planned is a move to Kronos Version 7.0 on the cloud, from their present deployment of Version 6.2.

The move is being targeted so that the Shops don't fall too far behind the latest version, which could eventually make things harder to do for compliance updates and other regulatory requirements, said Messenger. "You have to stay current," she said. "I think I can only fall behind two versions" before compliance issues make things much more difficult.

Employees use Kronos to log in their work time, check their schedules and approve their hours using time clocks with card swipe systems or through touch-screen panels.

The new Version 7.0 of Kronos will offer several big benefits when the deployment is scheduled to go live in mid-2014, said Messenger.

"In Version 7.0, they [use] HTML5, so we can move from Java," which has often been disruptive for employees. "That is a big plus for my self-service side because when my students or employees go home and they need to look at their hours or performance reviews and Java doesn't work, they get frustrated," said Messenger. "Java has been problematic and it's an IT security issue."

Another plus about moving to Version 7.0 will be the new easier-to-use graphical user interface, she said, which wasn't ready when the Shops previously had moved to Version 6.2. The updated GUI was included in the later Version 6.3 for employees, but the Shops didn't follow that update path at the time.

Users at the Shops will now be able to click on dashboards and get a cleaner view of the information they are seeking, making it simpler to use, she said. "Plus, it's been out there for a while and they've worked out the kinks. We'll be able to see where they are overstaffed here or understaffed there."

Messenger said she's also here at the conference to explore mobile capabilities for Kronos that she'd like to use when her employees are on the road, such as for off-site catering operations and retail sales functions that are set up at college sporting events and sell hats, T-shirts and other merchandise.

"We want to have a mobile piece for smartphones rolled out," she said. "What we want to be able to do is have the mobile app so employees can check their schedules, view their timecards and approve their timecards," all from their Android or iOS phones.

Another part of that would be to have a card reader that could be plugged into tablet computers to give the same capabilities to managers and workers at catering and off-site events, so they can easily see updates and scheduling, she said. "That would be great," said Messenger.

"We're on the cusp of it," she said. "I'm figuring that if they can do that with a badge that it opens it even more for my catering department" and other mobile operations.