Magazine Article | July 18, 2008

Beat Workforce Management Fraud

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

Experts offer advice on how to mitigate workforce issues with data collection technology.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, August 2008

Ask any retailer about payroll fraud, and you are bound to hear it's a clandestine activity that can occur in many ways. From suspicious accounting practices to buddy punching and overall workforce management (WFM) issues, labor management data can be skewed to pad the wallets of retail employees. To impede such attempts, data collection technologies have evolved over the years. In this month's Retail Solutions Forum, Peter DiMaria, CEO of Accu-Time Systems, Inc., and Andrew Needham, senior director inventory systems at Infor  (WFM Workbrain), explain their take on eliminating fraudulent activity as it pertains to labor management.

What are the best practices for thwarting payroll fraud? 
DiMaria: Biometric authentication is generating buzz as the best means for discouraging fraud. Both fingerprint and two-finger geometry biometrics are techniques that have their places in their respective environments. The right software combined with the right features enables a series of checks and balances that take over at the clock.

Needham: It starts with role-based security that both ensures people can do their jobs and secures information. Behind the scenes, we manage the process with an approval workflow and exception alert solution. Nothing is left to chance; no processes can be circumvented, and no one is authorized to approve their own records. We also encourage our customers to look for trends — areas of the process that can be proactively managed and improved (e.g. timekeepers with more edits than normal or people frequently adding hours).

How do Accu-Time Systems and Infor work together to secure the integrity of time clock and payroll data for retailers?
DiMaria: Infor and ATS have teams that test new features daily to maintain an aggressive testing plan. Infor brings years of experience and the testimony of its client base to the table. Together we share years of experience in dealing with retailers to ensure the integrity of the current systems under contract as well as new installations.

Needham: The two companies have formed dedicated teams to jointly design and evolve the solution. ATS has years of experience providing time clocks and expertise in data transfer and secure integration. This is coupled with our own security, audit, and compliance controls. Transactions that occur at the clock are unchangeable by design. For example, if a supervisor needs to override a punch for an associate, that supervisor does so by initiating an additional transaction. The new transaction instructs the software to make the appropriate changes without modifying the associate's original punch record. This protects the data's integrity and helps ensure strict labor compliance. Together we offer our clients solutions that eliminate the frustration of lost punch data without forcing them down a proprietary solution route.

What is the future of time clock data?
The term 'clock' is fading away in favor of 'workforce management portal' or 'appliance,' commonly referred to as a 'self-service device.' With more intelligence being placed at the device, it takes on a kiosk feel without the concerns of a kiosk's total system design. The ability to communicate among platforms via an http or https Web protocol is achieved around the world. 

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 On The Web: Read more on time and attendance at


Needham: Activity-based schedules lay the foundation for activity-based cost. How much am I spending on processing deliveries versus serving the customer? Are my employees being tracked correctly across my departments and stores? Data speed and accuracy are of paramount importance. For example, finding out on Monday that you've exceeded last week's payroll budget is a thing of the past. Retailers can view this data multiple times a day and make changes.