May 12, 2003, 12:00 AM

More retailers moving to workforce automation for quick ROI, Aberdeen says

Retailers such as Wolfgang Puck are using web-based workforce automation systems to more efficiently administer employees and realize a quick ROI, Aberdeen analyst Katherine Jones says.

More retailers such as restaurant chain Wolfgang Puck are using web-based workforce automation systems for their hourly employees to cut administrative time and costs while increasing productivity, Katherine Jones, managing director of enterprise business applications for AberdeenGroup, tells InternetRetailer.com. “It’s a growing area with room for a lot of payoff and near-term ROI,” she says.

Los Angeles-based Wolfgang Puck, the trendy restaurant chain, has implemented a browser-based application for scheduling spikes in help needed for specially catered affairs. The company often gets called upon to suddenly cater special events such as the Oscars, requiring it to quickly gather a team of several hundred waiters and other service employees with experience in handling celebrity guests. But because it relies on hundreds of part-time workers who are also professional actors with a broad range of skills and erratic schedules, Wolfgang Puck implemented a web-based application from PDSI to let them view available work time slots and any particular experience requirements.

Because workers can log on and check available work dates from virtually anywhere as long as they have access to a web browser, the system helps Wolfgang Puck quickly line up an event staff while giving its part-timers the ability to check for their preferred assignments. “Wolfgang says it’s fabulous, because they used to spend every waking minute trying to get the right people to the right event at the right time,” Jones says.

Jones says other retailers are also saving significant amounts of administrative time by having employees enter much of their own personal information into web-based human resources applications, such as when they change their home address or phone number, and by having employees directly access a web-based application for information such as on vacation policies and work schedules without calling and consuming the time of an HR administrator or shift manager.

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