Practicing What We Preach: Automating Processes To Improve How SwipeClock Operates
An interview with Scott Bell, Controller for SwipeClock
SwipeClock’s workforce management solutions enable small- and medium-sized businesses to simply and affordably automate their time, attendance, and scheduling functions. By seamlessly working with over 850 partners, SwipeClock enables more than 26,000 customers to lower labor costs, comply with regulatory mandates, and maximize their profits.
Through its partner strategy and innovative solutions, SwipeClock has generated steady and significant growth as increasing regulations and labor laws, cost pressures, and risk of non-compliance have caused companies to find ways to automate how they manage their most expensive, yet important asset—employees. Because of this growth, Scott Bell recently joined SwipeClock as Controller, filling David Catale’s role after he was promoted to Vice President of Operations.
As Controller, Bell has wide-reaching influence to improve the way SwipeClock operates by automating processes that impact almost every aspect of the company’s business. This includes finance, accounts receivables and payables, billing, legal, inventory management, and some operational functions. His overall goal is to streamline systems and operations by creating a digital environment that eliminates the remaining paper-based processes throughout the company.
One of the first projects Bell implemented was a new process for receiving funds from partners using ACH—the Automated Clearing House electronic network for financial transactions in the United States. This new process saves time and improves accuracy for both SwipeClock and its partners. “It’s great to see that Scott is having an immediate impact on how we operate,” said Catale. “We ask our partners to help their customers automate their workforce management processes, and we continue to do the same with our operations. We are leading by example.”
Creating a Continuous Cycle of Business Improvement
When reflecting on his first project with SwipeClock, Bell said: “It’s important that we do what we ask businesses to do with our solutions. As our partners experience the benefits of our automation, they will be more likely to encourage their customers to do the same. It begins to create a continuous cycle of business improvement driven by automation.” Of course, one success isn’t enough to create this ongoing positive cycle. It requires consistency, cultural and structural change, and a series of wins.
When it comes to cultural change, Bell has been impressed that SwipeClock employees are open to new ways of working, and quickly see the value and appreciate the simplicity of new processes and systems. A good example of this is how employees have responded to a new sales compensation process that Bell is driving.
Bell is a strong believer in documenting processes and creating flowcharts. “It puts a physical ‘stake in the ground’ that quickly and efficiently communicates expectations and responsibilities to the people involved,” he said. “And it creates a starting point for discussion and feedback. In the end, everyone feels like they are part of the solution, support the change, and trust the new process.”
Documenting process flows also brings inefficiencies to immediate awareness, gets everyone on the same page right away, and makes the path forward more clear. Once the documentation is in place, conversations go more smoothly, better decisions are made more quickly, and change happens more efficiently. All of this is key to creating a continuous cycle of improvement.
Bell is also working to improve his skills with process automation tools that SwipeClock can use to further create an electronic, paperless environment where operations run more smoothly and processes are less prone to manual errors. As with many operations executives, Scott’s tool of choice is Microsoft Excel. Currently, he is becoming more familiar with other tools that are more suitable to SwipeClock’s business, especially in the area of reporting for internal executives, shareholders, and partners to streamline and improve decision-making.
Interestingly, Microsoft Excel is often used by SwipeClock’s partners and their customers to manage timekeeping, attendance, and scheduling. Part of SwipeClock’s success has been based on delivering better tools to automate these important functions. Bell is practicing what he preaches.
A Unique Combination of Skills and Experience
While in college, Bell and a fellow student entered a competition that the Marriott School of Business puts on each year. To their surprise (because they were undergrads competing against mostly MBA students), their business plan for a new type of Voice Over IP (VoIP) company took first place. Publicity from the event resulted in several offers to fund their proposed company.
While building the business, Bell had the opportunity to wear multiple hats by running both finance and IT. This dual experience created the foundation for his future career and was one of the reasons he was hired to be SwipeClock’s Controller. “I had the unique opportunity to learn both the financial and technology sides of the business,” said Bell. “And most important, I learned that I loved and could integrate both in my work.”
Another key aspect of Bell’s VoIP business was that it was a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company. SwipeClock is also a SaaS company that delivers its solutions via the cloud so customers can benefit from continuous innovation through regular updates, have access on virtually any platform or device, and receive strong security, reliability, and availability.
Bell’s valuable expertise running a SaaS company combined with his experience in both finance and technology are helping SwipeClock to practice what it preaches to the more than 26,000 customers that use its workforce management solutions to automate timekeeping, attendance, and scheduling. By automating its own operations processes, SwipeClock can further improve the already strong relationships it has with partners, better understand what their clients experience when automating business processes, and most important, practice what it preaches.