Over the last 10 years I have heard workforce management referred to as time and attendance. This truly diminishes the importance of managing your workforce. Of course, it is important that you track all your employees' time worked and their time off, but workforce management is so much more than having a timeclock hanging on your wall.

In today’s economy with budgets stretched and the watchful eye of the taxpayer on spending in government, workforce management is more important than ever before. As many cities, counties and state agencies are looking to technology to meet their needs to achieve efficiency and business transformation, how you manage your workforce should be in the forefront of those conversations. While labor is the most expensive line item it is also the most stable and easily managed when you have the right tools and the right strategy in place.

Gartner said; “Despite increasing functionality in ERP solutions, there will continue to be a need for third party solutions. Time and Labor is one root cause of many implementation problems. If data validation is not forced at the point of entry this causes downstream issues with payroll.”

As a former payroll director who spent the first 20 years of their career building and managing payroll departments in both the private and public sector I can attest to the fact that this couldn’t be a more accurate statement, especially in the public sector.

I often referred to working in government as working for a single employer with multiple industries with thousands of employees delivering a multitude of services. For example, the State of Colorado is made up of approximately 19 executive branches, 5 state judicial agencies, as well as 22 judicial districts. The state is divided into 61 cities and 35 towns. It is that reason that makes tracking and managing government workforce complicated. Each agency, department or division has their own unique business requirements, rules and policies. However, they are also subject to the same laws and regulations that are applicable to every employee, such as: Fair Labor Standards Act, Family Medical Leave Act, statutes, policies, etc. Therefore, you need a solution that allows for the flexibility to meet the individual business requirements and ensures compliance with city, state and county policies.

In a recent whitepaper, The Public Sector Workforce Management Renaissance, Amyas Morse, Head of the National Audit Office, says “Time and again, we find that problems in the delivery of public services can be traced back to the way government goes about planning and managing business… government must make a deeper cultural change if it is to make a lasting difference to its performance and narrow the gap in accountability and transparency.”

In my personal experience, not having the proper systems in place to effectively manage your workforce is the root of many performance issues. While we like to think about fairness and equity, to truly have this you must know what your employees are spending their time doing. Other employees are watching what their co-workers are doing and improper management can create a culture of distrust and can impact employee engagement and morale.

According to Nannina Angioni, a labor and employment attorney and partner of the Los Angeles-based law firm Kaedian LLP, in a recent article from Workforce, “When taxpayer dollars are on the line, protections and processes come into play that an untrained, private sector employee would not even consider”.

Concern about good government has deep roots. For government to be effective good people must be hired, trained and appropriately rewarded. There is a well-established tradition that a properly designed system for managing people is critical to good government. Two schools of thought have emerged over time, one arguing that the breakdown in government performance is an “incompetent people” problem and another arguing that it is an “evil system” problem (Ehrenhalt, 1998). Whether you believe that it is the people or the system has a lot to do with the data that supports either school of thought.

To truly create transformation and have accountability and transparency you must have good data. A manager must have the tools at their fingertips to be able to properly, efficiently and effectively manage their employees. This information should be in real time and the solution should be easy to navigate. Things such as proper scheduling, managing overtime costs, managing absenteeism, tracking time against projects, programs and grants are all critical to the day to day operations of any manager who is responsible for managing people.

Public sector organizations are constantly balancing current operational needs with long-term obligations and goals. Because they are also accountable to public sources of funding, they are subject to a higher standard of transparency. Therefore, workforce management solutions are necessary to help them optimize spending and enhance employee experience in the near-term, as well as ensure their long-term commitments to employees and the public will be met.

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