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BIG insights from small data

October 2, 2014

Lisa Pratt is back! This week the anti-“hype queen” explains how data analysis doesn’t have to be “big” to yield meaningful results… Lisa is wicked smaht. An “A” student. Are you? Don’t forget I’m looking for more guest bloggers to share their insights on making workforce management work.

smalldataBy Lisa Pratt

“It is not the size of the warrior but the fury with which he fights.” This saying comes to mind when I think about Big Data and Analytics. For organizations that think they can’t do analytics because they don’t have Big Data, I would suggest that is not the size of the data but the ardor with which it is mined and acted on. Sure, you need a certain minimum amount of data otherwise anything you can learn is either easy to see, or the data is inadequate to create insights. And, yes, the tools and technology needed when you have truly Big Data are much more complex. However, there is plenty that can be learned and, more importantly, acted on with a more modest amount of data. And with the proliferation of data sources, the ability to gather relevant data is only getting easier.

When I was in graduate school at the School of Management at Syracuse University, I taught a Statistics in Business course to sophomore undergraduates. In addition to the usual tests and quizzes, each student had to obtain a data set, analyze it, and make actionable recommendations based on what the analysis uncovered. I had one student who had had a summer job as a waitress and had, fortuitously, kept a log of every shift she worked. She noted the month, date, day of the week, time, weather, tips earned, and a self-generated indicator of how hard she felt she worked for each shift. The student did a thorough analysis which helped her to understand which days, parts of the summer, meals, etc., resulted in maximum earnings all while putting in the minimum amount of effort. Clearly, this person was a diligent employee. So, when she was asked to return the following summer, she was able to be very specific in her shift requests to maximize her earnings while still having plenty of energy to enjoy her summer. Even small data can have a big impact if analyzed and acted on opportunistically. Imagine if the restaurant had such data and could use it to optimize the schedule, fairly assign shifts, and better plan the busy summer dining season.

The important thing is to take the data that you have, make sure it is organized and clean and then start analyzing. Worry less about the amount of data you have and think more about what you can do with what you’ve got. As you start doing more analysis, albeit constrained, your organization will start to understand how much more can be learned when additional data is gathered. As your data evolves, so too will your analytics and insights. And, yes, the student got an A+ on her project.

Letting go of the Kronos Working Smarter Café blog

October 1, 2014

Letting go Red BalloonSeptember 30 closed our fiscal year, and ended my bean counting of blog views for my most successful month ever. “My” of course is “our,” although up to now I’ve referred to this space as “my blog.” In the month of September, this blog received the most views ever for a Kronos blog, and it was done with the help of guest bloggers including Lisa Pratt, Jenna (Maver) Slattery, Melissa Spinella, and Valerie Welland. Thank you, ladies. They all did a great job, but the one thing we all have in common is that we’re in marketing, or as Lisa calls us, “the kings and queens of hype.” The truth hurts.

As we open a brand new year, I want to evolve this blog into place where high quality workforce management expertise is produced and consumed like a manufacturing run of Mercedes-Benz in Germany. Our organization is staffed with practitioners who can share their expertise and experience across many dimensions of workforce management, including:

  • Kronos products
  • User Experience
  • Scheduling
  • Kronos reporting and workforce analytics
  • Change Management
  • Training your Kronos Users
  • Testing Kronos solutions
  • Technology infrastructure and performance
  • Managing a Kronos Implementation Project
  • Multinational deployments
  • HR
  • Payroll
  • Upgrading your Kronos software
  • Integrating Kronos with other systems
  • Getting more from your Kronos investment
  • Industry-specific best practices
    And of course,
  • The Kronos cloud…

There are also experts in our customer and partner organizations. Some of them will be sharing their expertise next month at KronosWorks. I want you to blog here, too! Please let me know if you’d like to participate.

If I’m successful, by this time next year, the Working Smarter Café will no longer be “my” blog. It will be yours, but I do hope you’ll still let me post once in a while.

Happy New Year.

Adam Savage at KronosWorks!

September 30, 2014

Adam SavageIt’s September 30th. I’m pretty much out of ideas for posts, and I can’t just blow stuff up, but I have some great news!

Mythbusters co-host Adam Savage will be our keynote speaker at KronosWorks!

That’s reason enough to attend, but then there are the sessions, and the TechKnowledgy™ training, and the Expo, and the Vegas, baby!

Register before October 3 to save $100 on the standard conference registration and $80 on Kronos TechKnowledgy™, our pre-conference technical training.

I’m really looking forward to the keynote. Mr. Savage is a fascinating speaker, as shown in these two videos. You also probably have more in common with him than you think. In fact, here are 24 Signs You Might Be Adam Savage. I hope to see you at KronosWorks!

Adam Savage at TedEd


Adam Savage keynote at SXSW 2014

And down the stretch they come!

September 29, 2014

Belmont_-Stakes_-31-lengths_photo1This is the iconic image of Secretariat roaring down the stretch during his 31 length win in the 1973 Belmont Stakes, the last jewel in his Triple Crown. I wanted to use it at our sales kickoff next month to illustrate “leaving the competition behind,” but since we are now trotting out our messaging to a global audience of over 100 countries, it was deemed a bit too US focused.

Tomorrow is the last day of our fiscal year, so sales executives are sprinting down the stretch to win the confidence and the business of every customer possible. With our stable of thoroughbreds, I don’t think there will be a need for a photo finish.

Tomorrow is also the finish line to hit my goal of 1,000,000,000 blog views in September. I’m feeling winded, but…

It’s going to be exciting!


Mystic Pizza workers not getting fair share of pie

September 28, 2014

mystic-pizzaMystic Pizza is a little “slice of heaven” in Mystic, CT that gained national attention in 1988 from the movie of the same name. I remember seeing and enjoying the film and Julia Roberts in it. Now 26 years later, they’re gaining national attention again, this time for not paying their workers enough dough. The Connecticut Department of Labor investigation has resulted in the owner being forced to pay $105,000 in back pay and unpaid overtime, plus $23,000 in fines.

The owner paid far below minimum wage to some employees, and in one case, no overtime for an employee that worked 93 hours in a week. Sadly, even a time and attendance solution for small businesses like Workforce Ready wouldn’t help here. It can count time, but it can’t force owners to behave ethically. This is disgusting.

I’m never eating pizza again. No. Wait. I’m never eating pizza from there again.

I love pizza.

Google Chrome kicking the Java habit

September 27, 2014

On Thursday, our support team released a technical advisory for Workforce Central customers:

Google dropping Chrome support for Java and impact on Workforce Central

Chrome gave up JavaFrom Google’s perspective, “this change will improve Chrome’s security, speed, and stability as well as reduce complexity in the code base.”

For Kronos Workforce Central customers, the impact “is that since Workforce Central (WFC) versions prior to v7 relied heavily on Java, customers using those versions will not be able to use Chrome as a browser. Fortunately, WFC v7 can be configured Java-free for most employee functionality, so properly configured WFC v7 servers can be accessed by most employees with a Chrome browser.”

For more information, please see technical advisory 101274.

Will your team, customers, and competitors miss you?

September 26, 2014

re2pect-jordan-brand-pays-tribute-to-derek-jeter-last-season-01Last night Derek Jeter took off his pinstriped home uniform for the last time as a player with the New York Yankees. His retirement is a huge loss to his teammates, his customers, his competitors, and the game itself. Of course, that was after he hit the game-winning, walk-off single in a 6-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

Ho hum.

That’s what Derek Jeter did for his team for 20 years. In pressure situations where others implode, he delivered, but it was not in an extraordinary way. His career statistics don’t show unusual performance in those “clutch” situations. He simply delivered consistently, regardless of the situation or pressure. Consistent performance is a desired quality for any employee, and it earned him the respect of teammates and opponents. The respect thing was mutual, too. He always treated customers, teammates, competitors, and the game with respect. I’m a Red Sox fan, and I love the guy. Hell, his middle name is “Sanderson!” Get it? Derek Sanderson? Not that I’ve never made fun of him

In addition to the mutual respect and consistency he brought to work, his intelligence magnified his physical talents. Here’s an example. While some players may have the physical tools to execute this play, few have the presence of mind to be in a position to do it.


So as an employee and teammate, Derek Jeter provided the Yankees talent, intelligence, respect, and consistent performance, but that’s not what impresses me most. He was a star on the biggest stage, and could have simply gotten by on his talent and past accomplishments, but no. He was always willing to take risks, get dirty and do the work. To me, that elevates his greatness beyond statistical measurement. That’s about character and commitment to his team and their customers. And it’s about respecting himself. Again, as a Red Sox fan, and as a fan of a strong work ethic, here’s the one play that defines #2.


Derek Jeter’s co-workers, customers, and competitors will miss him dearly. What are you doing to make sure someday yours miss you?


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