6 Reasons To Update That Old Clock Card Machine

Clock Card Machine systems and Timesheets have been utilised as time recording methods in business for an incredibly long time. In fact many businesses are still utilising these traditional methods to capture and record their employee working times. However there comes a time when these just aren’t up to the job and are having an impact on the day to day running of your business. It soon becomes apparent that they aren’t giving you the information, you require.

Here we give you 6 reasons why it may be time to look at upgrading to an automated, computerised Clocking System.


Spending far too much time Calculating Payroll


Clock Card Machines stamp the current time onto a card as the employee inserts it which then records both the start and finish times each day. That is the only information you are given. The person in charge of payroll then needs to collect these cards at the end of the period, and one by one, work out how many hours to pay.

Within these calculations several questions will often arise;

Is there any overtime due to be paid?

Why was the employee seemingly late on Tuesday? Is it authorised or unauthorised?

Were the missing times on Thursday down to Holiday, did the employee forget to clock? or did they just not turn up?


It is easy to see how the amount of time spent can quickly stack up to work out each employee’s payroll for that period. Indeed, if we conservatively say it can take up to 7 minutes per clock card to collect, deal with exceptions and then calculate each one, with a relatively small 25 card system it can take up to 3 hours to complete a weekly payroll. A considerable amount of time.


An effective computerised clocking system will have all your rules built into it. Therefore, you can expect a payroll ready report with totals automatically calculated, and divided into the relevant counter such as Basic, Overtime or other premium. Moreover it will have flagged exceptions to you as they happen, such as lateness or missing employees. No more moving round the business, on payroll deadline day, trying to find out where someone was last Tuesday. Set up correctly for you, you can expect to cut the time you are spending by a very conservative 75%.



Finding regular errors in payroll


When it comes to manually working out pay from arrival and departure times, numerous errors are likely to be made. This is especially true if you have numerous rates or rules to apply to different employees. For instance

Is there an unpaid break to deduct?

What tolerance is permitted for lateness?

Is there an Overtime cut-off or even multiple rates of overtime?

Are there any premiums for this shift?


These errors are often exacerbated by the time constraints involved in manually calculating payroll and ensuring it is submitted for payment on time.

It is estimated that manual errors can add between 1 and 5% to the payroll bill


A computerised system which has been configured correctly applies the same rules each, and every, time even if every employee requires something different. This reduces the mis-calculations and provides a much more accurate payroll on time.



Clock Card Machine regularly breaking


We often hear from businesses still using old clock card machines that it’s been there for decades and rarely has an issue. Triggers Broom, in Only Fools and Horses, with 17 new heads and 14 new handles comes to mind!  Old clock card machines are mechanical and therefore they will have a number of moving parts within them, notably the mechanism to make the print or punch. Now whether it is these components or ink replacement it would be safe to say that over the lifetime of the device, it has had various things repaired and replaced.

What if the ink goes, with no spares on site? Is it a case of putting a time sheet out for employees to sign in and out? How long does it take for replacements to arrive or for the supplier to visit site and repair? Maybe they even say you need to take it off the wall and send it to them to be fixed? All this influences the day to day running of your business.


With a computerised system you would likely have a contactless fob system, or a form of biometric system. With either of these there is no need to replenish ink or replace moving parts. Any issues would, more than likely, be in the form of network problems, in which case a good system will continue to operate and store all time registrations which are then downloaded as and when the network is restored. Anything to do with the software system itself can most often be dealt with by your supplier remotely. Therefore, a quick call and you can be back up and running in a very short space of time.



Multiple Systems running    


You will have a clock card system for recording the times, maybe a spreadsheet for putting the times and hours into, and then another spreadsheet for your holidays and/or absence management. These may then need to be shared with colleagues and regularly updated. In this case maybe one user is inadvertently using an out of date sheet, and employees end up being booked off at the same time, or maybe holidays dont get input which then impacts on holiday entitlement reporting. Keeping track of who has changed what and when can be tricky to manage on a manual system.


A computerised system can combine all the above into one area, tracking working time, absences and holiday entitlements. Multiple users can access the same system and can track which users are making changes or have viewed data, which is increasingly important with the introduction of GDPR. Combined with the ability to lock down specific users to only see certain information and whether they have permission to add, edit or delete the data makes a computerised system incredibly secure..


Can never get the information you need when you need it


                Need to know who was working last Sunday or even simply, who is in today? With a clock card machine, this either means a trip down to the clock card holder and individually checking each card for an ‘in’ time or going back through a stored pile of clock cards to see who was in. All labour intensive.  What if an employee suddenly asks to see their holiday record for the current year? Is this readily available? May be the Finance Director suddenly wants an overview of overtime by department as soon as possible. How quickly can this be arranged? Maybe HR have asked about lateness records for the last month. With manual systems and data these are more than likely not available when requested.


With a good automated system, you should be able to quickly see a reportable list of who is in work, which is constantly updated as employees leave and arrive. You should also be able to search the system for employee presence at specific times or dates. With an automated system you have the data and information to hand when you need it. Backed up with a good report engine, and a supplier who has been keen to train you on how to use it, you will be able to create your own reports, on whatever data you need, within minutes.



Time spent entering all the data into a payroll system


Having spent all that time manually calculating those in and out times into a form of meaningful payroll information the task comes to transfer it into the payroll system. Here comes another labour-intensive task, and another chance for human error to kick in. Keying in data is fraught with the possibility of mis-types, again more likely if there are increasing time constraints on ensuring payroll is submitted on time. A conservative estimate is that it takes 2 minutes per employee to manually input their payroll data into the payroll system. So, for 25 employees that’s heading towards another hour out of the working day just keying in data.


With the right automated Time and Attendance system with an integrated Payroll Link this manual data entry is removed and automatically calculated hours, are transferred to payroll, with minimal human interaction. Many organisations may be slightly apprehensive about this automation, however when done correctly all necessary tests, comparisons and checks will have been done during configuration to prove the accuracy and reliability of the data. Not to mention you still retain the ability to view and/or report the calculated hours to see what will be transferred into your payroll system.



Permatek supplies, installs, provides training and support for market leading Time and Attendance systems. Our solutions include small, simple systems to full workforce management packages and everything in between all providing functionality to move your company on from the issues identified with Clock Card machines and timesheets.

Please get in touch for a free, no obligation demonstration of how our solutions can help you.

Posted in Clock Cards, Permatek, Time and Attendance Systems.

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