There are a wide range of possibilities to consider when looking into T&A systems for the first time. You could simply buy all the necessary component parts and install them yourself, or perhaps buy an 'out-of-the-box' solution.
However, it's important to think carefully about the exact needs of your business, not only now, but in the future. A T&A system can be expensive, and you don't want to end up with one which becomes obsolete further down the line. For this reason, you may be better off purchasing or leasing a full bespoke installation, specifically tailored to your needs.
Begin by deciding what you want the system to do for you. Which key areas of your operation do you want to address? How will you evaluate the success of your installation? It's not just about deciding which features you want, but more about ensuring you have a system that solves your problems for you.
- Think about your operations in detail. How many employees do you have, and across how many sites?
- Will you need multiple access sites or just one?
- Will staff clock in using punchcards, swipe cards, mobile phones, or biometrics such as fingerprints?
- Who will be administering the system?
- You may feel that allowing senior staff to manage their own department is a powerful incentive for them to work towards improvement.
Consider the quality of information you need. Some systems may overload you with unnecessary information, and no-one has the time or inclination to plough through reams of superfluous data. You should aim for efficient filtering to provide information that is both useful and accessible.
- How flexible is your proposed system? Every business is different and has different working procedures, which the system will need to accommodate.
- Can your chosen system be customised on an ongoing basis if your operations change?
Choose your provider carefully. Some companies sell their own systems, so they are unlikely to tell you if a rival product is better for you. But they will have full ownership of the system, and can probably customise it more easily if required.
Agencies that re-sell products are likely to have lower overheads, as they don't need to support development costs. They can also offer a wider range of products, but they will have less direct access to the systems, which could make it difficult if you need a customised solution.
Check exactly what is included in your deal. Does it cover installation, staff training, and implementation of the system? Confirm arrangements for after sales support, and the situation regarding any future development and upgrading.
- What is the life span of the product?
- Are upgrades free or included in your deal?
Be aware of the dangers of getting tied into a long term contract; you may be stuck with a system that no longer meets your needs. However, if you make a one-off purchase, you want to know that product support will continue for older versions if you choose not to upgrade.
A good supplier will work with you to ensure that you end up with the system you need, rather than merely try to sell you a product.