Interview with Bob Del Ponte, Vice President, Kronos

Interview with Bob Del Ponte, Vice President, Kronos

1. Tell us about your role in Kronos?
My name is Bob DelPonte and I’m the vice president and general manager of the human capital management (HCM) practice group at Kronos. Kronos offers two full-suite HCM solutions that combine human resources (HR), workforce management, and payroll in a unified database, Kronos Workforce Ready and Workforce Dimensions HCM.

In my capacity as vice president and general manager, I’m responsible for the development of our HCM product and go-to-market strategy. It’s a very exciting time in the HCM market and at Kronos as we work aggressively to grow our HCM market share.

While Kronos is primarily known for our leadership in workforce management, we have a supremely talented team of innovators reimaging predictive analytics and data-driven decision-making for businesses, and we’re focused on rethinking the traditional approach core business functions like talent acquisition and onboarding, talent and performance management, compensation management, succession planning, learning, HR, payroll solutions, and payroll services, such as tax filing, garnishment processing, and check distribution.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
Leading the HCM group at Kronos actually helped bring my career full circle in a sense. I’ve always been focused on the impact of technology and people on business strategy. Early on in my career, I was an HR practitioner before I shifted into product management.

I joined Kronos almost 20 years ago, first focused on supporting our enterprise workforce management suite, Workforce Central. During that time, something exciting began to happen: the proliferation of cloud was finally starting to reach small and midsized businesses (SMBs). I kept thinking, “wouldn’t it be great if Kronos could simplify HR and payroll just like we have done with workforce management?” We started talking about it more and more, then made the decision as an organization to launch of Workforce Ready, a cloud-native, full-suite HCM solution with HR, workforce management, and payroll in a single platform.

3. How do you think technology is changing the HR Sector?
Technology has been instrumental in helping HR secure its seat at the proverbial table when it comes to defining business strategy. One of the great things that technology has done for HR teams of all sizes is to unburden them of so much of the manual, error-prone administrative work that comes along with the job. Instead, HR departments who are using modern technology, whether they have 1 or 100 people, are able to find the margins in their time needed to focus on more strategic initiatives.

The next big shoe to drop for HR is the use of predictive analytics in everyday decision-making, which will further increase the influence of HR in business decisions, help HR professionals proactively address workforce trends before they have an impact, and for many organizations firmly put their people – who are their most important asset – at the center of strategy.

One of the biggest challenges to date with predictive analytics is that an organization typically needs its own team of data scientists. That’s expensive and out of reach for most! For those who do have the resources for such a team, they tend to focus on reconciling data from disparate HR, workforce management, and payroll systems. That takes time and makes the concept of real-time analytics unattainable. There is little opportunity to identify challenges before they become a problem. The rise of unified HCM platforms, plus recent advancements in artificial intelligence to parse high-value data from low-value data, is going to further entrench HR in the C-suite.

4. How has the use of technology contributed to more efficient workforce management?
One of the most important trends we’re seeing right now is the use of artificial intelligence (AI), in particular, to unburden the manager and give the employee an unprecedented level of control over their work-life balance. At Kronos, we’ve developed AIMEE to drive this. AIMEE is AI built specifically to help managers and employees.

We didn’t want to focus our AI around moonshots. While we already have big aspirations for AIMEE, she’s already solving practical, time-consuming problems that are making a real day-to-day difference for our customers.

For starters, AIMEE generates best-fit schedules for employees. Instead of having a manager spend several hours a week in a spreadsheet comparing labor needs with employee availability, AIMEE looks at the anticipated needs of the business, the stated preferences of the employee, and even the inferred preferences of the employee based on prior schedules, and generates a schedule that works for everyone in a snap. AIMEE also powers our advanced labor volume forecasting, which based on our testing is approximately 25 percent more accurate than even the best retail forecasts. This creates more accurate – and stable – schedules for employees.

Also, since we live in an on-demand world, we’re using AIMEE to review time-off requests and evaluate shift-swaps in real-time. Instead of an employee making a request and waiting days or even weeks for a manager to approve it, AIMEE lets them know instantly whether they can have a day or days off, allowing the employee to scoop up that AirBnB bargain or the last-minute concert tickets they found. Similarly, with shift-swapping, AIMEE will not only review and approve the request if it makes sense for everyone involved, but she’ll even make suggestions for who the employee may want to swap with based on past swap history, scheduling preferences, and other business rules.

By saving every manager several hours per week typically dedicated to scheduling, they’re able to reallocate that time more strategic business initiatives, coaching and developing their teams, or simple customer service – all of which help drive the business forward. Employees are also more satisfied, as there is suddenly a lot less friction between their work life and their personal life. Isn’t that what everyone wants?

5. What are the major human capital management issues that your system helps in solving?
In the simplest terms, we want to help organizations effectively attract, retain, and develop a highly engaged workforce while providing the best employee experience possible.

We want to help organizations simplify and improve their process for making people-centric decisions by supplementing anecdotal insights or gut feelings with empirical data and quantifiable evidence. In order to do this, you need to have a single, real-time view of your organizations data, which simply isn’t possible with paper-based processes or multiple, disparate systems.

We also want to provide the employee with the most engaging technology experience possible. To achieve this, we’ve reimagined how the employee interacts with our HCM solutions. They’re responsive so that they work on mobile phones or tablets as smoothly as a desktop. This allows employees to make important decisions – whether that’s requesting time-off, updating their payroll tax withholding information, or enrolling in benefits from anywhere, at any time. We’ve also simplified hundreds of common workflows to be completed in just a couple of taps on the screen – in some instances, just one.

We’ve all heard the saying – people join companies, but they leave managers. With that in mind, we’re also keenly focused on using technology to help managers be better managers. We’re focused on reducing the mountain of administrative work they face so that they can focus on developing their employees, communicating with teams, and delivering on strategy to move the organization forward. For even small businesses, we’re able to reduce payroll processing from a couple of days to a couple of hours. We eliminate the timely duplicate data entry adding an employee to the HR system, the scheduling system, the payroll system – all critical for those companies that don’t have the breath of resources and headcount as larger organizations.

By giving back managers their time, they can focus on the strategic business initiatives that will make the most difference. Analytics will be critical here. Employee Perspectives is a truly unique people analytics tool that helps you predict and act on the workforce trends and employee behaviors that matter to your organization.

Thanks to Kronos’ unified HCM approach, Employee Perspectives can access data points from all across the employee lifecycle to build metrics, such as flight risk, performance, engagement, and potential succession likelihood, that meet your exact business needs. We think this is a breakthrough that will foster better conversations between HR and operations about the workforce.

6. How do you differentiate your workforce management software from those available in the market?
One of the reasons I’m so excited about the future of Kronos in the HCM market is how we’ve gone about building our solutions. When you survey the market, some solutions are built with HR as the central component, while others are built with payroll as the central component. They do a serviceable job for the salaried workforce, but they simply lack the depth and expertise needed to manage time and labor management for today’s modern workforce, which is almost always a mix of salaried and hourly employees who work full-time, part-time, and on a gig basis.

At Kronos, workforce management is at the heart of everything we do. We have 40 years of experience operating in the most challenge regulatory markets and navigating complex union rules. Most importantly, we’re focused on the day-to-day moments that matter most for employees. Punching in, punching out, swapping shifts, taking time-off. Employees perform these actions thousands of times per year, which is why they are so important to the overall employee experience. While we handle the complete spectrum of people processes with ease, such as talent acquisition, performance management, and payroll, we’re exceptionally proud of innovating around the day-to-day for employees and managers.

7. “We believe great businesses are powered by great people,” can you briefly explain this.
Great businesses all have one thing in common – they recognize and value having great people. That’s usually not an accident either. Top talent – great people – usually have their choice of where they want to work. An organizations ability to recruit, hire, and retain top talent is what gives them an edge in today’s market.

At Kronos, this is something that we passionately believe in, and we apply it to our own business in two distinct but important ways. When we think about the solutions we build and sell, we want to make sure that we are doing everything in our power to provide our customers with the tools they need to manage an engaged workforce, helping them to find, hire, onboard, develop, and motivate the great people who work for them.

For Kronos to always be delivering these new innovations – like predictive analytics and AIMEE – that means we also need to attract, hire, and retain great people for our own teams.

Our promise to our customers is that we have some of the most talented people in the HCM solutions market working on our solutions, and to keep them, Kronos is focused on being a great place to work for Kronites – what we call ourselves – all over the world.

8. Which book are you reading these days?
For your readers who want to learn more about the Kronos culture and how it has helped us foster the innovations around HCM and workforce management that we’re delivering to market – or, for anyone who wants to be a better people manager – I would strongly encourage you to check out “WorkInspired: How to Build an Organization Where Everyone Loves to Work.”

Admittedly, it’s by my own boss, Kronos CEO Aron Ain, but he does such a remarkable job of pulling back the curtain to talk about the very deliberate and important steps he and the rest of our leadership have taken to build a highly engaged workforce.

Aron has worked at Kronos his entire career and when he became CEO employee engagement was right in line with IT industry averages, in the mid-60th percentile. Today, our employee engagement scores hover in the high 80s. He has high expectations for every people manager at Kronos – which includes me!

9. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, so can you share with us some of the fun pictures of your workplace?

Bob Del Ponte, Vice President, Kronos
Bob DelPonte Vice President, Kronos

Bob DelPonte is vice president and general manager of the Workforce Ready group at Kronos. DelPonte is responsible for strategic development, go-to-market strategy, and market research for Workforce Ready, a unified human capital management (HCM) cloud platform built to manage the entire workforce, from hourly to salaried and pre-hire to retire. He also manages the Workforce Ready Partner Network, the company’s dedicated partner channel supporting payroll service bureaus and large accounting firms. Motivated by the tangible impacts that Kronos solutions have on growing businesses, Delponte instills in his team a passion for seamless product delivery and true customer success.

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