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Tomorrow’s Cleaning (Jan 2017) – "Integration, Integration, Integration"

We’re featured in the January 2017 issue of Tomorrow’s Cleaning

Even though the workforce accounts for every cleaning contractor’s largest expense, the value of workforce management data often goes unnoticed.

Not any more, however. Developments in workforce management software and cloud integration means contractors can unlock the value from their workforce data to drive business efficiency. Nick Whiteley from Vanquish Integrated People Solutions explains.

Workforce management for the cleaning industry has come on leaps and bounds.

Gone are the days of having to putting up with the frustrations and errors associated with timesheets and spreadsheets or ‘off-the-shelf’ systems that are unable to cope with the idiosyncrasies of the industry.

After much development work, solutions dedicated solely to the cleaning industry have started to emerge.

These have been developed in close collaboration with leading contractors to deliver the tools and features that contractors have long yearned, such as the ability to –

  • Centralise the workforce in a single software solution
  • View the workforce from a contract perspective
  • Track ‘actual’ worked hours against hours forecasted
  • Collate real-time data from remote client sites and track staff movements
  • Apply different pay rates for staff working on multiple contracts
  • Simplify the management of multi-tenancy buildings with Building Reference functions
  • Assign ‘best-fit’ and ‘best-cost’ to meet strict budgets
  • Create ‘Teams’ of workers who regularly work together for fast scheduling
  • Configure ‘Assumed Hours’ to manage workers

Collectively the advanced functions enable contractors to gain total transparency of the workforce, better plan and manage workers to meet the requirements of each contract and gain a better understanding of their labour costs.

Integration – the key to unlocking value from your workforce

As powerful as workforce management systems are on their own, their return and strategic value is heightened profoundly when integrated with other key business functions.

Cleaning contractors typically rely on a myriad of systems, such as CMS, accounting, payroll and HR to run their business, but a lack of direct integration with workforce management means contractors are left with an incomplete and disparate picture of how well a business is performing against customer expectations, costs and quality.

Workforce management systems provide the only opportunity to engage with the workforce at the point of service delivery. Subsequently, the data is critical to gaining an insight into contract costs and staff productivity.

In the absence of true integration valuable time is often spent duplicating data, leading to the potential for errors and inaccuracies to occur.

Innovations in cloud technology and API platforms have made integration with workforce management easier, faster to implement and more cost effective, opening up the possibility for ‘best of breed’ back-office systems to profit from workforce data to enrich their own functionality.

Data can now be ‘pushed’ and ‘pulled’ from connected systems in real-time without hiccups, allowing core business functions to be automated and streamlined without the need for further data entry.

With easy and open access to their workforce management system, contractors have the flexibility to leverage all the industry-specific features from a dedicated system, as highlighted above, and then extract whatever data they need, however and whenever they need it.

For instance, they can apply the necessary pay rates for each contract, prepare team rotas to meet service level agreements, and then track on-site activity to ensure staff have arrived and finished on time.

Attendance data can then be ‘pushed’ back to the central hub to populate timesheets required for payroll and invoicing.

Strategic benefits

Integrating core business functions with workforce management brings both administrative and strategic benefits.

With all data entered once and made available in a single database, which is always up-to-date, contractors can gain total a holistic view of their entire operation and make better informed decisions based on ‘one version of the truth’ to drive a more profitable business.

For instance, they can make a direct comparison between how long each contract takes to clean and hour many hours were budgeted for, and use this information to determine which contracts are profitable and those causing excessive drain on resource.

With this information to hand contractors can enforce best practice and cost out more accurate quotes safe in the knowledge that their margin is protected.

Meanwhile, on a day-to-day basis, time and cost savings are achieved through reduced data duplication, the removal of errors, and fewer payroll and invoicing enquiries from employees and clients.

The fact it’s all hosted in the cloud, means managers can access the data anytime, anywhere from any web-enabled device and the return on investment is immediate as there are zero demands on placed on the contractor’s network infrastructure.

The final piece in the jigsaw

For far too long, there has been a tendency for workforce management to exist as an isolated business function.

But with the workforce representing every contractor’s largest expense, as much as 75 per cent of overall costs, workforce management systems hold some of the most meaningful data available to contractors.

Thanks to new feature and integration capabilities, workforce management can now release its value and move to the heart of the decision-making process, where it rightly belongs.

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Tomorrow's Cleaning Jan2017

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Use our 5 step calculator now and build a bespoke Time & Attendance system for your business, click here.

Cleaning & Maintenance (Dec 2016) – "Integration Streamlines Core Processes"

We’re featured in the Dec 2016 issue of Cleaning & Maintenance magazine.

In the current issue of Cleaning & Maintenance, Vanquish-IPS Software Developer, Matt Hawkes and Managing Director Nick Whiteley explain how the development of a new API platform is helping cleaning contractors to seamlessly integrate Vanquish with third party software without the need for further data entry.

In particular, they highlight how real-time integration with Vanquish workforce management data helps contractors  to drive efficiencies right across the business and gain a clear picture of how they are performing against client expectations, costs and quality.

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Cleaning & Maintenance Dec 2016

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Vanquish enhances third party integration with launch of API

Real-time API integration to help organisations streamline core processes to deliver total visibility of their performance

Vanquish Integrated People Solutions has added a new robust Application Programming Interface (API) integration platform to its market leading workforce management software.

Vanquish Integrated Console (VIC) is a cloud-based plug-in application, which can be instructed to send, receive and synchronise data, so users can seamlessly integrate Time & Attendance data with their critical software applications to create a single unified system.

VIC has the ability to transfer data via staging databases, Third Party APIs, cloud based storage or raw text files, so it can be used to automate and streamline core business functions, such as the payroll process, without the need for further data entry.

Seamless flow of data

Vanquish is used by many of the UK’s leading companies across multiple industries to support their service delivery and control costs through the efficient management of their workforce.

Organisations typically rely on several software systems, such as accounting, CRM, payroll and HR and workforce management to run their business efficiently and control costs.

But a lack of direct integration means valuable time is often spent duplicating data, leading to the potential for errors and inaccuracies to occur. As a result this creates an incomplete and disparate picture of how well a business is performing against customer expectations, costs and quality.

Organisations now have the flexibility to use the VIC API to leverage the full functionality of Vanquish and then easily share the data with other connected back-office business functions.

For instance, they can use VIC to ‘pull’ in data from their existing HR system to utilise the advanced rostering features of Vanquish where, for example, they apply pay rates, prepare complex staff rosters, manage staff absences and track on-site activity.

Attendance data can then be ‘pushed’ back out to the central hub to populate timesheets required for payroll and invoicing.

Total visibility from customised system

With a seamless flow of accurate, reliable and up-to-date data running between systems, organisations can gain total visibility of their operations, and are better equipped to make accurate decisions to drive a more productive and profitable business.

Meanwhile, on a day-to-day basis, time and cost savings are achieved through reduced data duplication, the removal of errors, and fewer payroll and invoicing enquiries from employees and clients.

Matt Hawkes, Software Developer at Vanquish Integrated People Solutions says: “Adding API integration to Vanquish provides users with open access to their workforce data so they have the flexibility to utilise it however and whenever they need it to drive efficiencies across their business.

“The fact that we’re able to easily integrate Vanquish with virtually any third party software empowers our customers and vendor partners to bring together multiple ‘best of breed’ systems to create a powerful system to fit their needs.”

Nick Whiteley, Managing Director at Vanquish Integrated People Solutions says: “The key to running a successful business is making accurate business decisions in a timely fashion.

“By enabling real-time rich integration with Vanquish, organisations can unlock the value of Time & Attendance data to help enrich every business process connected to it in order to gain the visibility they need to improve overall efficiency.”

For more information call 0121 773 7222 or email [email protected].

Landmark UBER ruling casts doubts on ‘Gig’ model

The decision by an employment tribunal last week to classify UBER drivers as employees rather than self-employed contractors raises serious questions about the longevity of the ‘gig’ business model.

The landmark ruling means UBER drivers are entitled to receive basic rights such as the national minimum wage, holiday and sick pay plus rest breaks.

The case, brought to court by the GMB Union on behalf of two workers of the taxi firms, centred on whether drivers were misclassified as self-employed contractors rather than employees who should receive benefits and to whom the organisation has a legal responsibility towards.

Although the tribunal only affects two people, the result of the preliminary hearing is expected to have huge implications for UK’s rapidly expanding industry of on-demand transportation services accessible via mobile apps, where people work for multiple employers day to day without having a fixed contract.

UBER model under threat?

Nick Whiteley, Managing Director at Vanquish Integrated People Solutions says the decision poses a serious threat to the business model that has made companies, like UBER, a global success.

“Not having to pay employee benefits for years has been critical to bottom line growth in this rapidly expanding industry. Suddenly, that’s all about to change and companies will see their labour costs rocket through the roof and their responsibilities change as they face the challenge of having to track an on-demand workforce in order maintain accurate payroll and tax calculations, pension contributions and administer holiday entitlements and rest breaks they receive.

“The ruling also brings to the surface the dangers of relying on a business model that is currently experiencing an influx of legal lawsuits, suffers from bad publicity which can damage a company’s reputation and brand image, and appears to create a lack of long-term commitment between employer and employee.

“Employers need to rethink their strategies and create a working environment that increases productivity and rewards staff performance, and where competitive advantage is secured through the development of positive brand image created by customer acquisition and the retention of a reliable, talented and loyal workforce.”

Focus on the back-end

To achieve this, Whiteley says organisations need to shift their attention away from front-end applications to the often neglected back-end technology, such as workforce management.

He says: “While advances in customer facing applications have helped companies, like UBER, to accelerate their route to market and business growth, it is the consolidation of back-end processes that form the backbone of any business.

“Embracing cloud-based workforce management solutions to automate and integrate key processes for example, provides the real-time insight organisations need to make optimum use of their staff resource.

“With total transparency of the workforce managers can take steps to enhance staff schedules, drive productivity and introduce working practices that support staff wellbeing and overall job satisfaction. All of which creates a working environment that brings out the best from employees, which in turn adds value to the bottom line through enhanced service levels.”

Whiteley concludes: “We need to move away from the false binary thinking that is about protecting people or protecting profit. This is a false proposition. Where is the customer in this?

“A committed, skilled and engaged workforce can do more to increase customer retention and acquisition than any spend on marketing or underpricing strategy could ever achieve. It is the overall customer experience that matters and the workforce is central to this.

“Although the decision will more than likely be appealed by UBER, whatever the outcome, the courts have shown that they are ready to intervene and enforce limits on the ‘Gig’ economy. Subsequently, it seems this business model will face further questions going forward.”

We’re featured in the October 2016 issue of Payroll World

In the current issue of Payroll World our Managing Director Nick Whiteley explains how established and emerging cutting edge technologies are affecting the payroll industry.

In particular, he discusses how developments in areas such as software functionality, wearable technology and cloud hosting are enhancing the capability of workforce management solutions and providing new opportunities to engage with staff.

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Payroll World - October 2016

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Top Tips for managing Winter absences – Download our FREE Guide

Winter presents significant management challenges for employers as the combination of seasonal illness, adverse weather and last-minute holiday requests create an upsurge in Winter absences.

Staff absences can have a profound impact on your staffing levels, productivity, profitability and morale.

The average cost of each absence is £554 per employee, according to the CIPD. This comprises the cost of sick pay itself, organising cover through temporary staff or overtime, and a drop in productivity of those left to pick up the extra workload.

So what’s the answer? Effective absence management is essential to mitigating the impact of winter absences.

Top Tips for managing Winter absences – download now

To help your business stay healthy through the chilly months we’ve put together a list of Top Tips for managing and improving Winter absences. Click to download.


Winter Absences Top Tips


To discover how Vanquish workforce management can help you navigate your way through the winter months, contact us on 0121 773 7222 or email [email protected]


Commission holiday pay ruling to create administration headache

A landmark employment tribunal ruling has placed extra pressure on organisations to maintain accurate holiday pay calculations.

From now on, employee holiday pay must take into account both their basic salary, plus any results-based commission and overtime they would have earned.

The case between Mr Lock and British Gas was brought before an employment tribunal after the sales consultant’s holiday pay was based solely on his basic salary.

It centred on the fact that workers whose wage is regularly topped up by a incentivised commission scheme are unable to generate any commission whilst on holiday so are likely to suffer financially as a result which may deter them from taking annual leave.

How to calculate commission holiday pay under the new rulings?

Guidance on how employers should implement the ruling when calculating commission holiday pay, or whether cases can be backdated, has yet to be confirmed.

Under the Working Time Directive workers are entitled to holiday pay at the rate of a ‘normal’ week’s pay for four weeks’ annual leave. This means anything intrinsically connected to the work carried out by the employee under the terms of employment. Employers are not legally required to pay holiday pay for the additional 1.6 weeks’ holiday provided by UK law.

What is the reference period for calculations?

In the case of Mr Lock, the court ruled that his average commission earnings over a 12 week period must be taken into account as it made up the majority (60%) of his income.

Nick Whiteley, Managing Director at Vanquish Integrated People Solutions, believes the ruling is expected to have severe financial and administrative consequences for employers operating commission schemes.

He says: “Monitoring staff holiday requests and calculating the payroll for worker commission schemes has all of a sudden become a lot more complex for HR and Payroll teams.

“It is yet to be confirmed how payable commission holiday pay should be calculated, but whatever ‘reference period’ they are advised to adopt, be it 12 weeks or otherwise, it is imperative for employers to record the working time and commission earned by staff so any commission can be calculated and factored in the holiday pay.

“Failing to do so could leave employers at risk of overpayments or open to penalties for incorrect commission holiday pay.”

Can workforce management systems make a difference?

Cloud-based Workforce Management systems will be crucial to unravelling the complexity of commission holiday pay calculations and ensuring employers comply with the new rulings.

Today’s systems can be customised to specific company rules, and feature dedicated functions as well as self-service portals to simplify and streamline the management of holiday bookings.

Self-Service portals empower employees to request their leave direct to line managers, who can then accept or decline requests at the touch of a button.

Greater transparency of staff holidays means managers can plan the workload in advance around staff availability in order to maintain appropriate staffing levels.

Alerts can also be configured to highlight to managers which employees qualify for commission-based holiday pay so these members of staff can be closely monitored.

Meanwhile, with total visibility of staff attendance and historical payroll data managers can quickly calculate what commission and overtime employees have earned over a specified ‘reference period’, so any additional pay can automatically be applied to the payroll run.

Seamless integration with payroll and accounting systems means the entire payroll process can be automated; saving time spent reconciling manual timesheets and reducing errors.

Should we wait for the outcome of an appeal?

Nick Whiteley adds: “Although the decision will more than likely be appealed at the Supreme Court, adding to the confusion for employers, the ruling has once again highlighted the need for employers to evaluate how they manage staff time in order to comply with employment regulations so they can mitigate their compliance risk.

“Organisations will find it doubly difficult to make accurate calculations if their processes are out of date.”

Time to prepare for Christmas temporary staff

Employment agencies need to plan early to ensure they are ready to cope with the  influx of Christmas temporary staff.

Christmas represents the busiest recruitment drive of the year as companies.Industries such as manufacturing, hospitality, retail and logistics, look to increase their workforce to deal with seasonal variations.

Retailer John Lewis is already advertising for 3,500 temporary staff in the run-up to Christmas. Last year parcel courier Yodel increased its workforce by 70 per cent, hiring an extra 7000 temporary drivers to fulfil Christmas delivery slots.

The admin impact of Christmas temporary staff

A spike in demand for Christmas temporary staff is good business for recruitment agencies. However, scaling up the workforce for a short intense period places extra workloads on the desks of HR and payroll teams.

Nick Whiteley, managing director at Vanquish Integrated People Solutions says: “Managing a temporarily expanded workforce creates a significant challenge for the recruitment sector.

“With employees on multiple shift patterns, contracts and pay rates across their client base, it is imperative for agencies to track employee working time. Doing so helps agencies to monitor absences, maintain accurate payroll and invoice calculations and enforce compliance with the Working Time Directive.

“Relying on manual timesheets and spreadsheets leaves agencies at risk of breaching the law and open to time fraud and errors caused by data duplications, resulting in overpayments.”

How Vanquish workforce management helps

Vanquish workforce management provides the tools agencies need to track and schedule Christmas temporary staff to meet contract demand. Tracking time and activity ensures employees are paid correctly and receive the employment rights they are entitled to.

The fact that most systems, like Vanquish, are cloud-based means they can be rolled out quickly. Its scalability means it can easily accommodate seasonal recruitment drives.

The use of biometric terminals to verify staff attendance helps to prevent fraudulent clocking practices, such as buddy punching, and ensures the data collated is reliable and accurate for payroll and invoice purposes.

Rostering functions optimise staff schedules to meet seasonal fluctuations and maintain staffing levels.

Vanquish seamlessly integrates with third party payroll and recruitment software streamlines the process further. This reduces the time spent reconciling manual timesheets and eliminating errors caused by data duplication.

Improve operational efficiency

Whiteley adds: “Taking steps to improve operational efficiency through automated workforce management helps agencies seamlessly navigate the festive season. It also adds significant value to their managed service delivery.

“Total visibility of the workforce assists agencies to reduce attrition, enhance productivity and deliver total transparency to clients that are receiving the hours they are paying for, all of which will improve client satisfaction.”

The National Minimum Wage is changing

From 1st October 2016 a new National Minimum Wage for workers aged 25 and under is coming into force.

Under the new regulations pay periods beginning on or after that date must reflect the following pay rates.

  •  £6.95 per hour – 21 – 24 yrs old
  •  £5.55 per hour – 18 – 20 yrs old
  •  £4 per hour – 16 – 17 yrs old
  •  £3.40 for apprentices under 19 (or over 19 in first year)

To help you plan ahead and maintain compliance, we’ve created this handy guide for you to download so you know exactly when to introduce the NMW in your payroll.

Download Guide