News of tech acquisitions splash your favorite news publications every other week; all the moving and shaking is just another day in the life for tech companies big or small.

But what does that mean for you?

As a professional in human resources or payroll, working tirelessly to enhance processes while striving to make efficient (but mighty) contributions to your organization, news of a time and attendance acquisition impacts you more than you might realize.

Whether you’re running a one-man show on all manual processes with your desk covered in files and forms or you’re leading a 12-person team and have just implemented your second HRIS – acquisitions in our space mean opportunity to optimize as an organization.

Quick case study: What are your employees up to & what does that cost?

Ryan Fuller is the founder of a company called VoloMetrix, which Microsoft acquired in 2015. Writing for Harvard Business Review a year later, Fuller talks about consulting with a multi-billion dollar technology firm that shifted its emphasis from “aggressive growth” to “profitable growth.” In the process of that shift, the company wanted to analyze productivity and effectiveness across its employees and partner ecosystem.

His perplexing findings, post-analysis:

After much iteration, the general conclusion was that at least 50 percent of the total time employees spent engaging with these partners had no correlation with enterprise value. That’s one million hours annually (not including internal prep time), or the equivalent of 500 full-time workers. Every day, they were dedicated to activities that appeared to be at best redundant or potentially even value destroying, with multiple employees from multiple teams engaging with the same people at the same partners in an uncoordinated way.

What does this tell us?

  • A company making billions of dollars has the equivalent of nearly 500 employees working full time on projects with “no correlation with enterprise value.”
  • Leaders may not have a way to be effectively managing their employees’ top priorities, or time in general.

This is a white-collar example, but this lack of clarity around what exactly employees do with their time is hardly limited to white-collar roles.

Let’s take a closer look at blue-collar jobs. Although this sector has fallen to roughly 13.2 percent of the American workforce, they almost always require a strong time and attendance context. Physical presence on site often matters more in blue-collar roles than in enterprise-level positions. For example – retail! Retail is hugely tied to tracking time and attendance and makes up a whopping 5.9 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, or about $1.14 trillion in value-add.

$1.14 trillion in value-add in one industry alone. Not to mention business models where hours are the product, like law firms, professional services firms, and some agencies. And what business leader doesn’t have a firm grasp on their product? The answer: None that are successful.

Getting back on track

Any business needs to demonstrate growth in the modern economy. We’ve all heard the mantra, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” It applies to companies regardless of whether they’re white-collar, blue-collar, retail, or a billable model.

The thing is, there are different paths to growth. Many business experts and investors start down that path wanting to see scale. Scaling products is valid, of course. But any business that grows needs to also scale its people and their work.  And work becomes much more complex when two co-founders become 10 employees, 10 employees become an office of 50, 50 become a campus of 100, and so on.

The current labor market is very tight. At the same time, numerous industries report an understaffing problem, i.e. the oft-referenced “skills gap.” In many cases this is completely true. Oftentimes, though, the perception of being understaffed comes from a lack of understanding around what people are doing all day. When you have a better handle on time and attendance, you have a better handle on what your business needs overall — which is crucial in the modern labor market. Now you can center talent acquisition around value-add roles, as opposed to an assumption of what might be a value-add role.

The bottom line – you can’t scale or grow unless you understand:

  • where your people are physically
  • when they’re in the building and when they’re not
  • what time they’re taking off
  • what hours are going to have what impact on clients and partners
  • where the redundancies lie

It is literally impossible to scale and grow without understanding those basic building blocks of what employees are doing and when they’re doing it.

So, you ask, what makes the news of a time and attendance acquisition so relevant?

It’s the foundation of how we work. These acquisitions are the building blocks for scale and growth in the HCM technology space; they help the acquiring HCM suite become an end-to-end solution. End-to-end suites offer more options to their clients. Most companies don’t want to manage 20 platforms just to get their basic work done… They want everything they need in one place. Having time and attendance baked in with other HCM table-stakes features makes a ton of sense. Keep it simple.

Listen up business leaders, analysts and investors – for the right kind of work to get worked, we need time and attendance acquisitions all over the ecosystem.


Jeff joined Ascentis as chief product officer with more than 25 years’ experience in delivering innovative product solutions to solve unique business challenges. Ascentis offers easy-to-use human capital management solutions in modules of HRIS, payroll, talent management, recruiting and timekeeping to create one, unified solution.