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“I’m present!” By Anindya Das, Pondicherry Anindya Das finds out all that went into the creation of the new attendance system—the management objectives, technical organization and HR processes.

16th Mar 2009 generate attendance reports. Users will have an HID card which they will have to place against the attendance unit to log their daily in and out times. The server side software sits on top of an SQL database and the client side application has the facility of generating a variety of reports. How was the system put together? The people involved, the various phases, the challenges faced? Nikitesh: The setup kicked off in Mumbai where along with the attendance system an access control system has also been implemented. The first phase in Mumbai involved the fitting of the attendance unit followed by the server side and client side software. Once the initial tests were completed in Mumbai, the implementation moved to Bangalore where the unit and client side software were installed. Here we tested remote connectivity to Mumbai and once that was tested successfully, we moved to our last site, Pondicherry.

How did this attendance system get started? Apala: The origin of the system was to ensure that there was a reliable way we could fulfil our legal and statutory compliance requirements (attendance register is mandatory from the government’s perspective). We moved from purely manual registers to a biometric system in Mumbai a few years back. We were able to see the increased reliability as a result of automating this task (a simple case of logical function allocation!). Who are the different users of the attendance system and what are the typical user scenarios? Vikram: The first type of user is the HFI India employee who will use the swipe card to sign in and sign out each time they come to office. The second is the HR user who consolidates the data and generates reports. The third is the MIS user who’ll perform system maintenance related tasks. Could you describe the overall architecture of the system? Nikitesh: The system consists of three attendance card swipe machines located in each of our three offices connected through our ISPs to a central server. This central server is located in Mumbai and stores the attendance data for all three locations. Client software present in all three offices allows the local sites to

The swipe cards then had to be configured with employees’ data and we are in the final phase of putting all our HR related data (such as leave policies, shift timings etc.) into the system. During the last weeks of February we had staff swiping the cards and following the current attendance procedure. This enabled us to smoothen out any issues in the new system. The system went live in March. A major challenge during the implementation was the co-ordination aspect. The vendor was a little slow in moving to Bangalore and Pondicherry and did require a few strong and firm reminders. Also, at the start of the implementation the vendor had massive requirements for the server side hardware (which weren't justified) so we had to really understand their system and software to realize that a high end setup was not required. Another challenge we faced was getting the ISPs at Bangalore and Pondicherry to reconfigure our existing setups so that we could link all three attendance machines. Pondicherry was relatively smoother but Bangalore faced issues that were not in the least bit expected with Internet connectivity once the router was re-configured. Are there differences in the systems installed in the three locations? Nikitesh: One major difference is that Mumbai is the only location with a server side environment. The other difference is that Mumbai HR will be the only site allowed to modify staff records in the software and make changes to any policies in the server.

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Your Monday morning cuppa HFI buzz!

Will it change the working style of HFI?

16th Mar 2009

Holi in Brajbhoomi By Anu Gupta, Mumbai

Pooja: Definitely, since it has been installed at all locations, we will get all-India reports at a glance. Staff will also have to get used to bringing their swipe cards when they come to office and remember to use them when the come in or leave. What happens when HFI employees come to office without their swipe card? Pooja: Swipe cards are mandatory to bring to office. Once in a while, if they forget to do so, they have to inform HR (Mumbai) to help them out. What happens when an employee reports a lost/stolen swipe card? Pooja: They will have to immediately inform HR & MIS (Mumbai). HR will arrange for the new card. Since Mumbai also has an access control system, employees located at Mumbai will have to report the loss immediately, even on weekends, so that access using that card is denied promptly. What are the challenges foreseen once the new attendance system is officially in place? Nikitesh: Technically speaking, one of the challenges would be to make sure that the server side hardware gives us optimal performance a year down the line. Another challenge would be to ensure that the remote connectivity for the three machines remains stable. A third would be to get prompt service from the vendor if required. What does management hope to achieve from this system? Apala: Apart from the statutory compliance aspect, I also feel that this new attendance system will make it easy to study and analyze the pattern of working hours spent in office, in each location. This analysis will help in understanding whether it makes more sense to change the flavor of our offices from “mainly work from office” to “mainly work from home” or any blend thereof...

Holi is the festival of colors—we all know that. But not many of us know how the people of Braj—the original land of Lord Krishna—celebrate Holi. Here is some information on how their celebration is different from that in other regions of India. Brajbhoomi covers the regions of Mathura, Vrindavan, Gokul, Nandgaon and Varsana—all these places have an important role in Hindu mythology as that is where Lord Krishna is said to have spent his childhood. Amorous songns, devotional and religious enthusiasm and a splash of colors present a delightful scene. The way this region celebrates Holi is a special tourist attraction, especially in Nandgaon and Benaras. In Vrindavan, a huge bonfire is lit on the full moon night to commemorate the victory of good over evil and the Prahlad-Holika story is recounted. Holi is celebrated for five days. The first day, it is played with mud, the second day with cowdung, the third day with colors and the last two days are celebrated as latthmar holi—a kind of game played by Nandgao men and women.

Anything else? Apala: Feels like we are “growing up,” with the arrival of this new for us but standard for most corporates, attendance system! After all, even “markers” like this system play an essential role in creating the brand perception that we want in India...that of a brand that very successfully blends processes with creativity.

The Nandgao men, known as gops, attack and try to mark their victory over the temple of Radhika by unfurling a flag over it while the women of Nandgao known as gopis try fend them off with long bamboo sticks. It is said that Lord Krishna danced with the gops of Nandgao. Holi songs known as “Hori” are sung by the men and women and are mostly based on the dialogues exchanged between Krishna and Radhika.

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Somras 17 March 2009