Workbrain Adds Intelligence to Employee Scheduling

Updated: Upgrades on tap from the work force management software platform will add new analytic, integration and UI enhancements.

Workbrain Inc. is looking to take human resources software way beyond simple staff scheduling and employee time tracking with new analysis, integration and user interface enhancements to its namesake work force management platform.

Automating and systematizing work force management enables enterprises to be more responsive to customers and save money by enabling them to pinpoint when they need the most staff and when they can get by with a skeleton crew, Workbrain officials said.

"Managing labor is a big variable cost," said David Stein, executive vice president and co-founder of Workbrain. "Enterprises are finding that they need to optimize [the work forces] to get a bigger return from their ERP [enterprise resource planning]."

Next quarter, the Toronto-based developer will make available Version 4.1 of its Workbrain platform, which will feature Cognos Inc.s ReportNet reporting tool integrated with the Workbrain Intelligence analysis component, Stein said.

The upgrade will also feature new weekly Timesheet and Coverage Scheduler modules, as well as user interface and performance enhancements.

In Workbrain 5, due in the first quarter of next year, the company will introduce a new Microsoft Corp. .Net technology option that Stein said will enable enterprises to more easily integrate .Net services into the Workbrain platform. A key early benefit will be a Workbrain.Net smart client that will provide users with a familiar UI that can be quickly integrated with Microsoft Office productivity applications, such as the Outlook e-mail client.

.Net integration "will allow us to provide more drag-and-drop functionality for a richer user experience," Stein said. "If you know how to use Outlook training goes to zero."

Workbrain 5 will also include new support for flexible deployment options, which should appeal to health care customers where nurse scheduling needs to be flexible; enhanced analytics, including new industry-specific dashboards; and unified scheduling, said Stein. Workbrain also intends to extend its vertical-specific solutions to financial services.

Further down Workbrains roadmap, Stein expects to see "proactive scheduling" functionality in which the software learns a companys business rules around employee scheduling then applies those rules to future scheduling jobs.

"We differentiate ourselves from [the big ERP vendors] by enabling enterprises to model and manage staff in real time," said Stein. "Our UI is geared for a work force that is maybe not so technically savvy, not like an ERP power user. We try to make it intuitive to do complex tasks."

Recreational Equipment Inc., which operates 69 stores in 24 states, has deployed Workbrains time and attendance tools across its business and the full suite at 10 stores.

In addition to being well-suited for retail, the software fits REIs culture by letting employees have some input in scheduling decisions, said Mark Seidil, project manager for REIs Right Team Right Time project.

"With this product, we can balance employee preference and business needs," said Seidil in Kent, Wash.

Editors Note: This story was updated to include information and comments from REIs Seidil.


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