by Rebecca Merrett

PFD Food Services automates payroll process through the cloud

Feb 17, 20144 mins
Cloud Computing

Food distribution company PFD Food Services is using a cloud service to automate its payroll process, reducing overhead costs by almost 70 per cent, according to CIO Richard Cohen.

Cohen used Kronos time and attendance workforce management application to wade through complex pay structures by streamlining the time management capture process and integrating it with PFD’s payroll system.

Employees scan their finger on a device or ‘clock’ at the start and end of their work day, which identifies the worker and their pay rate, rewards and bonuses, etc. This information is recorded in the cloud-based Kronos application and feeds through to its payroll system to complete weekly pay runs.

For security reasons, the devices record points on a worker’s finger instead of the fingerprint itself, and employees also type in a code at the start and end of their shift.

Before moving to the cloud, PFD relied on a time consuming process of manual data entry and spreadsheets, making it a struggle to pay staff on time.

“Each branch relied on an individual to capture payroll data, then it was sent to our payroll department who then had to key that into a spreadsheet, then they had to key that into our payroll system. So it was a very unautomated process, and there wasn’t a lot of integrity around the information and the information flow,” Cohen said.

“Kronos gave us the ability to report on that data in a timely fashion from a management-reporting perspective.”

Since deploying this system, Cohen said he has seen a 68 per cent decrease in payroll enquiries, and an 84 per cent reduction in “outside of cycle” pays.

“We are now able to [create a] labour report or FTE [full time employee] report for the previous week on the following Monday, whereas before we had to wait nearly a week to be able to provide that information,” he said.

The cost of moving to the Kronos cloud, including implementation, was “in the vicinity of $400,000”, Cohen said.

“When it comes to the cost of hosting the environment in the cloud, we worked out it would roughly save us 50 per cent of what it would cost if we had to manage it ourselves,” Cohen said.

“We haven’t had to deploy our own hardware to install and to run the Kronos solution, we haven’t had to then maintain that hardware and we haven’t had to manage the operating environment that the solution runs on.”

Cohen has also moved PFD’s customer and supplier portal into Telstra’s public cloud, following the success of the Kronos implementation.

“Kronos was our first real foray into the cloud space… It wasn’t until we had that positive experience with Kronos did we say to Telstra ‘let’s pull the trigger and put our online environment into the cloud’.”

Having launched six months ago, Cohen said he has found the cloud environment for online orders to be “much more scalable for what we need than when we were hosting it ourselves”.

Cohen also plans to roll out a mobile app for product ordering and GPS tracking of trucks.

He plans to first roll out the mobile app to iOS users, including iOS7, with an iPad specific version, before launching an Android version. The app will be developed using responsive Web design.

The app will allow customers to search for products, look at pantry lists, check the stock availability in the warehouses, and place orders online.

The GPS tracking devices and software will collect data on the health and safety of a driver and the conditions inside a truck to ensure food stays fresh when being transported.

“It’s more than just ‘where is the truck?’ We’re looking at how we can use that to capture… how long has the driving been on the road for? What speed are they driving, is he/she going above the speed limit? What’s the temperature within the truck? That information would feed back into a central repository so we can extract it, report on it, and work with it as we need to.”

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