From “All Clear” to “All Systems Go”

by | Jan 10, 2022

A roadmap to reconciliation and return to application normalcy after a system outage.

Experiencing a Workforce Management system outage, as many Workforce Central users did in December, can lead to numerous issues. You have a lot to consider as your Workforce Management system comes back online after an outage, much of it before employees and managers can start using the system like normal again.

Think about when you went live with your WFM system. Your teams tested end to end, validated data imports, and layered new functionality into the system roll out. The chances are you’ll need to do the same again.

In this blog post, we’ve summarized the key concepts that will assist you in resuming operations. It’s all about getting starting again effectively and safely for your users and ensuring each team members’ pay is correctly reconciled. If you need any assistance with processes, planning, and skill set, our team is ready to help you!

Don’t Jump Ahead! Load Person Information Chronologically

Without the current people information in the system, your reconciliation of punch and paycode data will be impossible. Before your outage, think back to how your person import worked. Most likely, you brought changes to employee information into your WFM system nightly.

If you skip the personnel changes between the onset of the outage and the day your system came back online, you may be missing hundreds of important employee changes. You could also be missing employees entirely.

Load your past employee demographic files chronologically into your WFM system back from the onset of the outage. This is the best way to ensure you’ve captured all employee changes and effective dated them correctly.

What Changes Were You Making?

When your outage first occurred, were you making changes and/or updates to your pay policies? Did you change any pay practices or accrual plans at the start of the year that you need to deploy? Before you begin accepting new punches or time off requests, remember to deploy any changes or updates that were in progress at the onset of your system outage.

Test, Test, and Test Again

Before you import employee punch/paycode data, validate your pay/accrual policies to ensure they’re still working correctly. Consider setting up mini validation test cases where you enter sample punch/paycode data for a small population of employees. This will allow you to validate totals and ensure they are calculating correctly, and that the system is also granting/decrementing accruals correctly.

This validation task is important. It will help you ensure all your missing paycode/punch data  collected when your system was unavailable will calculate correctly. It will also set you up well for pay reconciliation.

Workforce central outage recovery

Consider Disabling Certain Functions

Do you have attendance management in your system? When you import your punch/paycode data, will your attendance management module automatically add new infractions into employee attendance records?

Consider implementing an amnesty/grace period throughout the outage period. This could look like not adding/tracking any triggered infractions  in the employee’s attendance record.

When you’re ready to hand over access to your employees, do you want them submitting Time Off Requests, Shift Swaps, Applying for Open Shifts immediately? Think about disabling these self-service functions until your employees return to capturing their punches electronically again and you’re certain the system has been fully tested end to end.

What are your Reconciliation Policies and Redress Processes?

As you reconcile your missing pay periods, you’ll likely come across situations where employees have been overpaid or incorrectly granted holiday pay, shift differentials, etc.  . It’s important you set clear rules about the criteria that needs to be present to take back that pay. Alternatively, you should also clearly communicate whether you will forgive overpayments.

You could, for instance, only trigger a claw back if the overpayment was greater than a certain percentage or dollar value. We’d also suggest  spreading the amount owed over the next several pay periods to lessen it’s impact.

Of course, you may decide not to claw back certain pay types, like Holiday Pay or Shift Differentials. Regardless of your policies, you’ll need to receive employee buy-in/union cooperation and communicate these policies well in advance of the first reconciliation.

Importantly, your employees need to know where to go if they want to dispute their reconciled paychecks. Set up a centralized email box or intake form to ensure you’ve reviewed and catalogued all cases for auditing purposes. Remember, clear and thoughtful communication will ensure success for your employees and yourself.

Data Importing and Reconciliation

You’re finally at a point where you can start bringing in missing pay data. Now the question becomes what will be your source of truth? Did you continue to collect punches on clocks and store them offline? Will you be basing pay off these clock punches? Or did you collect external punch/paycode data that you will treat as the correct source of pay?

If you plan on using externally collected data, remember you’ll need to convert these values into an import template provided by your vendor. Your converted workbooks will become the basis for your import templates.

If you need to transfer punch or paycode data to different locations, cost centers, or work rules, you’ll need to identify those to be transferred manually in the system once you’ve imported  the data.

You’ve validated that your time entries are all in the system, made your transfers, and your management teams are happy with the employee timecards. Now you’re in a position to export this information to payroll.

What comparison will you provide employees, if any? Will you simply show them the net differences in pay? Will you show itemized differences between paycodes and wages? Your employees will want to see that the math adds up, so  make sure to clearly show this information in a way that your employees (who are not payroll experts or accountants) can understand quickly.

All Systems Go

You’ve done your reconciliations and loaded historical data. Your payroll team is tackling what needs to be paid or clawed back. Now  you can give the keys to the system back over to your employees and managers. Some people will be hesitant, especially after a long outage like the one that hit Workforce Central, so  continue providing support and guidance on best practices.

Make sure your employees have access to the same functionality as before the outage and that you’ve restored the same self-service and clocking functionality. Your road to “All Systems Go” will not be an overnight process from the time the vendor gives you the keys to when you can get employees back into the system. Be patient — you’ll learn as you go, and know that Axsium is here to help you build and execute a recovery plan that is tailor-made for your organization.

If you have been affected by the recent Workforce Central outage, please contact us right now to learn more about how we can get your organization back up and running.

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