Human Resource Tracking Database

A construction company needed to track employee data include employment, training and accident history. The big challenge for this midwest based company was that most employees were used for numerous short term assignments. The goal of the application was to allow the existing infrastructure to track all hire/layoff occurrences for all employees. This situation was exacerbated by the fact that their VAX accounting package was written in the early 1980's and only allowed 1 hire and termination date per employee. Since the package was so old, it was not feasible to attempt to modify the package directly (the original development company had long since gone out of business).

The user base was maintaining a room full of boxes with handwritten notes in regard to each employee. In order to perform research (often requested) about an employee, the users would have to search the VAX package and then proceed to the boxes for a complete history. There was tremendous liability in such a configuration:

  • The access to the private information was loosely controlled.
  • The historical information was only contained in the boxes (Separate fire and vandalism events had destroyed some of the paper records a few years earlier).
  • The chances that a clerk found complete information was not guaranteed (oversight or incomplete records).
  • There was no ability to cross-reference information to determine if recurring employees were providing accurate identity information.

    Clearly, the information contained in the boxes of data had to be stored externally from the accounting package. The accounting system was so specialized it had to be retained, but the secondary use of information (manual lookup for worker compensation and government reporting) would be re-engineered with a new application. First, an ACCESS database was developed based upon all information contained within all available records stored within the boxes. Although this task was labor intensive, every user was highly motivated to get the information "on-line".

    The next step was to develop a procedure to export information nightly from the accounting application and retain any changes entered each day into an ACCESS database. Upon developing the rules for validating data on the export procedure, it was determined that much of the data being entered on the VAX was in fact not valid. Robust error checking was then built into the export procedure to give managers a daily report of what data entered was invalid. This allowed them to actually check on what problems were entered into the data very soon after it was entered on the VAX

    Numerous search and report capabilities were added to the ACCESS database. Information and reports were now possible which previously were done by pouring over records manually. All forms within the user interface provided cross reference features to relevant project or employee information. User conveniences were added based upon user feedback. Since we were able to re-implement a new user interface for reviewing and managing the historical information, vast improvements in usability and productivity were included.

    The users applauded during the first training session. Many commented they knew they would be more productive and thanked our developer for incorporating their valuable comments during the design/development/refinement phase of the application. A few days after the first training session, an accounting manager told me his clerks were no longer using the search capabilities built into the Accounting package. It was apparent that the ACCESS facilities were easier to use and more powerful/convenient than their previous experience.

    The user interface was developed using an ACCESS database. The import procedure was developed in VB and run on a Windows/NT server scheduled to run nightly. The application runs on Windows 95/98/NT supports about 50 simultaneous users.