Leveraging ERP investment with WFM

By 12/11/2015 News No Comments

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Many companies have an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in place but fail to leverage its potential for saving them manpower costs and boosting productivity. Guenter Nerlich, managing director of AWM360 Data Systems, says that workforce management (WFM) systems provide the ideal synergistic tool to enhance the efficacy of ERP investment.

Nerlich founded AWM360 in 2010 to provide organisations with the tools to integrate their ERP system with an appropriate and functional automated WFM system. He explains that a mechanism was required to fully automate data collection within companies in terms of the time that employees spend on specific tasks and projects. By tying a WFM system into an existing ERP system such as SAP, companies will be better able to manage and allocate human capital to areas where their expertise and experience is required.

He cautions however, that not all WFM systems are equal. An important factor to consider is that they are capable of integrating with one’s current ERP system and are certified by the ERP system supplier. His subsequent choice of Kaba as a technology partner is based on the company’s longstanding reputation in the security sector and an extensive customer footprint.


In essence, combining an ERP supplier-certified WFM system with an ERP system will provide one point of access for automatic inputting and receiving data. This not only reduces the risk of human error, but also decreases the manpower needed to manage the system in a totally secure manner. A reputable WFM system will be suitable for large scale project rollout, with reliable hardware and software that can cope with ease of integration with the ERP system.

Typically WFM systems are used in conjunction with cards, biometric readers or a combination of the two for enhanced verification and authentication. When employees clock in and out for the day using an access card/reader, their hours are automatically uploaded to the system. This allows companies not only to pay employees for the exact number of hours they have worked, but will also provide an indication of where resources are currently being deployed. This will then allow management to redeploy employees to areas in deficit.

A major cost centre for companies is overtime calculation and the correct payment of stipends. Companies not using an effective WFM system are open to abuse by employees who may deliberately or mistakenly provide an erroneous account of overtime they have worked. In addition, by linking the system to a biometric reader, buddy clocking is eliminated, thereby providing further accuracy in accounting.

WFM benefits

Nerlich outlines a number of benefits companies can derive by employing a WFM system. Firstly, it is a tool which can be used to heighten compliance within the legal framework with respect to occupational health and safety regulations. Not only can the system be set up to check that medical certification is up to date (specifically relevant in the mining sector), but it is also extremely advantageous during evacuation procedures, where locating all employees correctly is critical.

Apart from the obvious project management benefits, the adoption of a system that is symbiotic with a recognised ERP system means that there will be no hidden costs in terms of future upgrades. In other words, when the ERP system is updated, the WFM system will be automatically updated to ensure that it remains current with the ERP system technology.

He advises a number of steps to successful implementation of a WFM system which start with carefully listening to the needs of the business owner, not just for the present but for future scenarios. Solutions should be designed by people who have some HR experience and consideration should be given to what systems, if any, are currently in place. Identification of pain points is important to ensure that all needs are completely met and this can be achieved through workshopping undertaken by the WFM system supplier, within the organisation and in a collaborative meeting between the client and the supplier.

Nerlich says that clients have easily realised cost savings of between 10% and 20% by integrating a WFM system with their existing ERP system.