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HR Shared Services Time Administrators – Centralized or Decentralized

Even with the major advances in timekeeping technology that have been made in the last decade, the necessity of having significant levels of oversight to ensure employees are properly submitting their time work continues to be the case in the vast majority of companies.  Not only limited to those employees that work on an hourly basis, but even salaried employees are also typically required to report any exceptions to their standard week for such occurrences as paid time off (PTO), sick leave, and jury duty.  When you combine this with the fact that major corporations are dealing with thousands of employees spread over multiple geographic regions, each of which may have different regulations and practices, gathering accurate time reporting data can be challenging.

A recent iPollingTM question generated by the Payroll Director at a large consumer products company included this comment as background: “Our time administrators are physically in the work sites and report to a site supervisor. We want to know how many companies have a similar decentralized approach versus a centralized group of time administrators reporting to a shared service or headquarters function.”  Within minutes of the poll being released, the results started coming in from other major companies across the globe, with many also providing comments regarding their approach to this common issue.

Looking at the poll results, there is nearly an equal distribution of responses for “Centralized as part of Shared Services” with 40% and “Decentralized in the business units” with 44%.  These results are not surprising since the debate over which of these two structures is best has been going on for many years, with no clear solution that is right for all companies.  Fortunately, because the Payroll Director was using Peeriosity’s iPollingTM service, the path towards a “clear solution” is straight-forward since respondents have visibility to see which company is following each approach, with the ability to follow up directly with other respondents to better understand the pros and cons of their current structure and their plans for the future.  

current structure at your company for Payroll Time Administrators ipolling results

The following are some of the comments that members shared as part of participating in this poll:

  • Our Time Administrators are currently decentralized in the business units, but we are exploring moving toward having them centralized as part of Shared Services.
  • Decentralized with audit functions in the Payroll department to proactively catch errors; for example. missing time.
  • Our company has time admin in a central location under our Global Business Services Finance group (Finance Shared Services).
  • For our hourly population, the majority is decentralized in the field. For our salaried-exempt population, we are centralized. We are exploring centralizing this function as part of HR Shared Services.
  • Time Administration is performed by Payroll, which is part of the Shared Services functions.
  • Payroll operations were centralized in 2007 and continue to operate in a Shared Services environment. Business unit departments have assigned management staff with scheduling and time editing responsibilities at the department level.
  • We are centralized in most of the countries where we do business and are in the process of globalizing the management of timekeeping.
  • Our hourly manufacturing employees are decentralized at the plant location. They are located at the sites and most often report to the HR Manager at the location.  Issues are tracked through Remedy and supported through Global Shared Services at HQ.  This is a topic that has come up recently and I expect that centralizing will be explored in the coming 12-18 months, so I am interested in the responses.
  • Decentralized for non-exempt employees in manufacturing and distribution.  Exempt employees self-report exception time only.
  • We have Time Administrators working at the business unit level and also time entry in the centralized Payroll Department.

How does your company oversee the gathering of timekeeping information?  Is it time to take a serious look at how this process or design can be improved?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?


 “iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility of all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPolling.

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