#KronosWorks2014: Biggest. Conference. Ever.

by | Nov 21, 2014

In the opening session, it was announced that there were about 2500 attendees at KronosWorks in Las Vegas this year, which is about 500 more than the previous record number of attendees. Those are the numbers. But what I am here to tell you, as this was my 14th KronosWorks, is that this conference felt like the biggest KronosWorks in history. Everywhere I went, it was crowded. The tables were crowded for lunch time. Half of my sessions I ended up standing in the back because it was full. The expo hall was consistently busy with attendees. It just felt “big.”

Part of that feel is thanks to the Aria itself, where the conference was held. It is a great location for a conference this size, because of the proximity of the rooms to the conference center and how the space is nicely organized over three floors and sets of escalators. But the vibe from the attendees themselves makes all the difference, and people were interested in talking about improving their system and other future plans, which is a great sign of how they are investing in Kronos as a WFM platform.

Healthcare Takeaways

I spent much of this conference sitting in on Kronos sessions and user sessions, listening and live-tweeting about what I heard. In our video wrap-up, I call out the top two trends I heard: Centralized staffing and Acuity. If you haven’t watched it yet, go check out what I have to say about those topics, plus hear from Bob Clements and Bliss Gordon as they give their take.

There are a couple of other takeaways that I have that I think are relevant to healthcare.

The first one is how the Activities module is now relevant for HealthIT. One of the constant challenges in all my years of working in healthcare was how we could leverage Kronos to keep track of project time, especially for exempt IT employees. I came up with workaround solutions and leveraged labor levels transfers, but the process was inherently awkward because (1) exempt employees didn’t punch like regular hourly employees and (2) that’s not what labor levels were designed for. Enter: the Activities module.

Originally designed for the needs of a manufacturing plant and logging time to work orders, Kronos has been making some subtle yet significant improvements in Activities that now make it a very attractive option for grant tracking and…drumroll…IT project time tracking. I won’t get into all the specific pieces of functionality in this space, but my takeaway is that as word of this starts to get around, the Activities module will start to get some traction with large healthcare customers who want to integrate project time tracking with their PMO systems.

My second takeaway came from the attendees themselves. A lot of the healthcare sessions focused on showcasing the benefits of advanced concepts like centralized staffing offices and acuity (per the video wrap-up), how Analytics can be leveraged, and even the new Healthcare Forecast Manager. However, when I listened to the audience questions or whisperings from the crowd, it seemed that many healthcare customers still have fundamental usability issues with scheduling. The good news for them is that Kronos is making improvements in this area too – most notably by expanding the scope of what can be done in Navigator for healthcare scheduling. But there are still a sizeable percentage of customers who just need to firm up their foundation.

What makes me worried for this group is that they try to rush into the new flashy stuff but then are disappointed with the results because you can’t enhance without first being functional. Nothing I picked out from the attendees was “broken,” per se. They just needed help with new, better ways to accomplish tasks or find out about new features that they have but aren’t using. The problems are solvable. Navigator is better for healthcare scheduling in 7.0 than it was in 6.3. And EVERYONE is excited to see Java go away in v8.0. In addition that, we at Axsium are ready to assist Kronos customers get better usage out of their WFC system. It just takes “righting the ship” first to start leveraging the new cool features.

Next Year

In 2015, we will be back at Aria again in mid-November for KronosWorks. You are hearing it here first: I expect next year’s conference to be even bigger because of two simple factors: (1) Java is going away in v8.0, and (2) v8.0 is scheduled to be released in early 2015. (I think I heard the attendee crowd cheer again just now!) See you there.


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