Chapleau Cree First Nation: streamlining Time and Attendance processes helps through COVID-19

May 27, 2020

Chapleau Cree First Nation is a Mushkegowuk Cree First Nation located by Chapleau Township, about 190 kilometres northeast of Sault Ste. Marie, ON. The First Nation is led by a Chief and five Councillors.

HR Systems Strategies Inc. (HRSS) reached out to Chapleau Cree FN in late 2018 when they had already started to look for a better way to modernize their existing manual methods. Edith Larocque, Band Administrator, and team wasted no time and after demonstrations, conducting due diligence, and lining up financing they became a client in early 2019. Like many First Nations, Chapleau Cree’s suite of solutions included Employee/Manager Self-Service (ESS), Online Timesheets, the core info:HR Engine, and Sage 300 Payroll Integration for their 50 employees.

Chapleau Cree has employees working in multiple locations – Administration Office, Health Centre and off-site such as Public Works. The challenge for Chapleau Cree FN was managing employee attendance and absences, most notably regular hours worked, banked overtime and sick time off.

After getting their data automatically populated into the system, the Chapleau Cree team of Edith, Lori Moreau (Finance Controller) and Connie Martin (Accounting Clerk) began training with Barbara Chicago and they were off! Lori commented, “We were excited to see the system working in our own environment with our own data, doing for us what we saw in the demonstrations. In retrospect it probably wasn’t the best time to get started as we were in the middle of our year-end and audit. It was a big change for our staff, but like everything else after getting used to it, they like the system.”

Previously, employees were doing everything on paper. Lori said, “An employee would fill out a paper time-sheet that went to their Manager. The Manager would review it and sign it. Then it went to the Band Administrator, Edith, who would do the same. Finally, it would end up with us and we reviewed everything yet again. That’s a big process! That’s all gone now. We have the Online Timesheets portal and it’s all on the employee now to enter their hours worked and of course they want to make sure they are getting paid accurately. And then there’s the ESS web portal that provides employees the ability to see selected portions of their personnel file and, more importantly, their current balances of all time-off categories to which they are eligible – vacation, sick, banked overtime and more.”

The staff use either their own workstations, shared workstations or their phones to track their time banks and make vacation requests. Lori said, “The employees and managers like the mobile ESS and it would be great to have the same mobile capability for Timesheets, which I understand is coming.”

The automation in place now has paid off during COVID-19. Lori said, “For sure the priority has been and continues to be everyone practicing social distancing and being safe. The system has made it much easier for us to collect data from employees wherever they are rather than the way we were doing it before – pushing paper around and trying to get approvals manually. So, it’s been a big help!”

Chapleau Cree and HRSS have been working together to finalize the integration between Sage 300 and info:HR. Currently Lori pulls a report from info:HR and then enters the information into the Sage 300 accounting system. “It will be nice to have that manual step automated, which we are close to having.” There are two primary reports that Lori uses. “I generate the Attendance Summary Report as well as the Individual Attendance Report for all employees listed on the summary report.”

Chapleau Cree FN is one of HRSS’s clients taking advantage of the hosting service. Lori said, “We are not near a major centre so the Internet Service provided to us was slow to start but we have noticed much better response times now, so the hosting is working well.”

Regarding vendor support Lori added, “Barbara has been great. She did all of our training and if ever I have a question, I call her. I’ve also used the main support group and the team there has been very responsive as well.”

Moving ahead Lori is looking forward to getting the Mobile Timesheets capability and finalizing the Sage 300 integration. “I know there is more in the system we aren’t using yet. Once our workload returns to something more normal, we’ll have the time to do that.