Kronos Goes Mobile with iSeries Central 6.2
September 11, 2012 Alex Woodie
Managers and employees will be able to access key human resources and time card functions from mobile devices with the latest release of Kronos‘ iSeries Central. Version 6.2, which shipped earlier this summer, introduces several new mobile interfaces, as well as support for the latest Web-based management console, called Navigator.
Kronos doesn’t talk a whole lot about its iSeries Central suite, which is composed of iSeries Scheduler, iSeries Timekeeper, iSeries Absence Management, iSeries Activities, and iSeries Gaming. That’s too bad, as several thousand organizations use the IBM i-based software to manage their workforces.
The software company once again chose not to formally announce the latest release of iSeries Central. Perhaps that is due to the fact that Workforce Central, which runs on “modern” servers with X86 architectures (as opposed to “legacy” systems like the IBM i), is the company’s preferred suite. We know that because the biggest new features in iSeries Central 6.2, such as the new mobile interfaces and Navigator, the Web-based management console, have been in Workforce Central for years.
Nevertheless, the update to iSeries Central should provide customers with real benefits. For example, consider the new mobile apps, which run on Apple iOS, Google Android, and BlackBerry devices. Kronos has delivered new apps for both managers and employees.
The new iSeries Mobile Manager app allows managers to do manager-type things, such as responding to time-off requests, managing exceptions, fill in missing timecard punches, and approving timecards. Likewise, the new iSeries Mobile Employee app lets employees punch in and out, submit time-off requests, submit timecards, view their schedules, and view their accruals.
Obviously, Kronos has put in safeguards to prevent an employee from using her iPhone to check in to work from, say, her apartment, when she is supposed to be ready for her shift at the store. And an organization will obviously not want to give the iSeries Mobile Employee app to all employees. But it is a nice perk to allow some employees to communicate with their employer, and should help foster good employee-employer relations.
The other major new feature in the usability department is the introduction of the Navigator interface to the iSeries Central suite. Kronos first introduced the Navigator interface in the fall of 2009, and delivered the new user interface with the launch of Workforce Central in July 2010. The software, which was built with rich Internet application (RIA) technologies, was designed to be a more intuitive console for managers to accomplish their day-to-day tasks, such as viewing employee scheduling, work hours, and time-off requests.
With version 6.2, the Navigator interface is available within the iSeries Manager component. The use of widgets will allow managers to configure the Navigator interface to meet their needs, and really dial in the interface to deliver the most pertinent information, thereby eliminating the need for managers to drill down through menus, switch from one Workforce Genie (a previous new UI technology introduced three years ago with version 6) view to another, click through multiple 5250 green-screen interfaces (arguably still the most popular interface for iSeries Central users), or running off multiple reports. Navigator also features a role-based setup, which Kronos says reduces deployment time.
Kronos announced several other enhancements with version 6.2, including support for the new InTouch time clock terminal, which the company delivered in November. The InTouch terminal provides all of the standard time clock functions, but its seven-inch color touch screen can also be used to run other apps for employees, such as taking surveys, displaying sales data, or playing motivational videos (as opposed to demotivational videos–do not show those).
Meal tracking has also been improved with version 6.2. Under federal law, employees cannot be compensated for meal breaks, so it’s important for an employer to make sure that there’s a firewall between workers and their food. With version 6.2, Kronos has introduced a new report that clearly displays all of the meals, cancelled meals, and penalties that employees have accrued. The increased transparency into mealtime makes it easier for Kronos to control penalties associated with people working while they eat, Kronos says.
On a technical level, all of the reports in iSeries Central 6.2 will run faster thanks to a change in the way the queries have been constructed. Now, managers can run reports for specific labor levels, which eliminate the need to scan all of the data in the database, Kronos says. The company has also bolstered employee-level auditing, enhanced the Punch Detail Report, and improved security reports.
iSeries Timekeeper 6.2 has also been enhanced allowing more classes of managers or administrators to approve time off requests, instead of allowing just the employees direct manager to approve them. It should also be easier for a manager to gauge whether or not an exception in an employee’s punch record is new or has already been reviewed. Timekeeper also gets new skill and certification tracking functions, and a better commenting feature.