People Matter at Pontoon

Global HR outsourcer equips workforce with TimeControlOnline, giving employees anywhere, anytime timesheet service

You don’t have to look far to see that people are Pontoon’s most valuable asset. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the Adecco Group, the global HR outsourcer manages contingent workforces, sources and recruits direct hires, and manages statement of work resources for more than 150 industry-leading organizations in nearly 100 countries, all with the aim of improving efficiencies and service quality. To ensure employee activities are accurately allocated and compensated, the Jacksonville, Florida-based company followed its own lead and turned to an external service provider.

In the fall of 2012, after vetting several time tracking solutions, Pontoon chose TimeControlOnline, a hosted Timesheet-as-a-Service (TaaS) offered by Montreal-based HMS Software. “Employees needed an easier way to allocate and track project hours”, said Pontoon Director, Global Corporate Systems, Stephen Nosek. The company was also looking for a simpler, more direct way for several clients to approve billable time back to them.

“Because we’re a global company, we really prefer to leverage innovative online solutions so that our colleagues can easily access tools from any location,” said Nosek. “The TimeControlOnline service aligned nicely with our business model to improve, simplify and drive efficiencies throughout our diverse company, ultimately leading to savings.”

Ease of use a key selling factor

Pontoon operates in numerous industries, from light industrial to clerical to professional services. At any given time, the company’s global employee base can range from 1,000 to 5,000, depending on the number of temporary positions being filled. It also operates shared service centres which divide full-time resources between several clients, according to workload.

“Our time tracking needs vary,” explained Nosek. “We’re not always tracking standard hours for normal work. Monitoring project work is equally important; and can be highly labour intensive for some departments”.

The previous time tracking system used by employees was a general project management solution, suitable for managing individual projects but lacking the flexibility and level of detail required to manage Pontoon’s variable workforce. Looking to improve the economic value added (EVA) for its investment, Pontoon decided to make the switch to TimeControlOnline, cutting over to the new platform in December 2012 after an eight-week implementation period.

“The ease of the tool is the one selling factor that really won us over,” said Nosek, noting that the software is highly customizable, allowing employees to create timesheets that accurately reflect their activity. “The service is also scalable to match our business needs and helps us to align people’s time against multiple projects and clients,” he said.

Much of the implementation time was spent on establishing and streamlining project codes to ensure employees applied standard naming conventions. Pontoon also enlisted the help of HMS consultants to establish a TimeControlOnline link in Microsoft® SharePoint®, the company’s collaboration software, so that employees could access their timesheets from a familiar environment.

Timesheets are truly personal

TimeControlOnline is used by Pontoon employees in a variety of ways. Some workers are hourly-contract workers whose payroll hours must be approved by external clients before Pontoon can generate and send invoices. Other workers are full-time Pontoon employees who track their time against specific project codes and could be working for as many as five clients at a time.

“Typically, employees will have one timesheet with the ability to track more than one project and or client,” explained Nosek. “It’s truly personalized. We have different departments; as well, as different roles and levels within those departments. Depending on where someone fits within that hierarchy determines how many different options they have on their timesheet.”

Most users access TimeControlOnline through a desktop browser but a mobile option is also available. Multiple languages are supported, making the service a good fit because the company operates in 100 countries, spanning the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Though the solution is not integrated with other project management tools used by Pontoon employees, its ability to generate meaningful, accurate reports is an added advantage. The global project implementation team, for example, runs reports to help make strategic decisions about where and when to shift resources. Members of the finance team generate reports to support the billing and payroll process.

External approvals are seamless

Pontoon contracts with HMS on a yearly basis, leaving ‘wiggle’ room so that it can scale its TimeControlOnline implementation as needed. “Licences are activated as workforce needs change, a process that takes as little as five minutes”, said Pontoon Network Engineer Aaron Mills. “We’ve created a ‘new hire’ form in SharePoint so that when a recruiter makes a hire, they simply fill out the type of TimeControlOnline account required, which in turn generates a template that we use to establish the new user,” he explained, noting that existing TimeControlOnline profiles can be copied to speed the process when applicable. “It’s a seamless process.”

Another task simplified using TimeControlOnline is the set-up of external approvers. Pontoon’s wish list for a new solution included the ability for clients to approve time without having to log into a time management system, which would require managing user names and passwords. As Mills explained, at one time the company attempted to create its own approval method using SharePoint without much success.

TimeControlOnline, on the other hand, provides the opportunity for approvers to access timesheets via a link in an email. Once they are set up in the system, the process is automatic: an alert is sent and approvers open the link to approve the timesheet with no need to log in. “We never hear from them regarding support issues – it just works,” said Mills.

In fact, Mills reported he seldom hears from TimeControlOnline users, unless they forget their password or if there’s a product upgrade and they lose any customizations they’ve added to their timesheet. And on the rare occasions that a problem does arise with the service, HMS typically responds within the hour.

“As an organization, we’re all about outsourcing. We used to have a server room and now we have what I call a technology closet,” said Mills. “It’s really nice to be able to find a time management solution from an expert who not only knows how to do it, but delivers it with exceptional support behind it.”

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