OK Computer...You Didn’t Learn That In School
March 29, 2018
OK Computer...You Didn’t Learn That In School
Score 6 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Ascentis HR
We are currently using Ascentis HR across our whole organization. However, for the majority of our employees, they are mainly using only the Employee Portal/Employee Self-Service site so that they can see their paychecks, make simple changes to demographic information to their HR records, and changes some of their payroll information such as W4 withholdings as well as direct deposit changes. Our managers are granted a bit more access and can see some basic demographic information as well as compensation and job history. This aids them when doing reviews, job transfers, and in essence, gives them a little more information at their fingertips without having to dig through files or try to remember at the top of their head the history of each employee. Our payroll department utilizes it somewhat; however, not nearly as much as our HR department which is the department that accesses it and engages in it every day.
- Ascentis HR is particularly helpful in keeping a record of past jobs and/or managers. If you have an organization that lets employees move from one department to another fairly often, this software has a tool that will help you keep track when Employee "A" moved from Supervisor "X" to Supervisor "Y" as well as from Department "B" to Department "F" without having to restart that employees length of service.
- Ascentis HR also has a number of ways that you can customize tabs. If you want to keep track of something for your organization that you don't see on one of their prefabricated tabs or screens you can make one of your own. We have made several different ones to help us keep track of different information such as driver's licenses and expiration dates as well as specific training and/or orientation tasks that we want supervisors to accomplish with their new employees.
- Ascentis HR lets you upload documents (particularly pdf) to employees files, which is particularly helpful. Additionally, you can mark these so that the employee can or cannot see them when they log onto their side of the Employee Self Service. One of the things I particularly like about these uploaded documents is that each part cluster of tabs has its own tab for attachments. When you open the "Employee" section where you find information about the employee and his/her personal information as well as job information, you will also find a tab where you can put attachments for personal and/or job-related information - such as a job description sign off or something of the like. When you open the "Compensation" section you will find another tab for attachments, and this might be where you decide to upload copies of direct deposits if you require them or wage changes.
- One of the biggest issues I have had with Ascentis HR is that it lacks updates. We started using it four years ago. We stopped using it because we were trying to piecemeal three different systems together. We tried another system for two and a half years. That didn't work out any better. We decided to give Ascentis HR another try. I was hoping that there would be a few upgrades, but the system was largely the same. On the one hand, I admit it was nice because there was not a steep learning curve, but on the other, the technology was behind a lot of the other systems that we were presented with.
- The complaint that I hear the most from my employees is that there is no app for the program and that it is extremely hard to use on any mobile device. The Employee Self Service/Portal is set to be used on a computer or laptop - not a small mobile device. With so many people using their phones as the main internet source, it does make it difficult for many of our employees to access their self-service portal outside of the work environment.
- Because it is an older system, some of the things can be a little trickier to set up. Benefits are one of them. There are multiple screens that need to be gone through and rules that need to be built. It can seem a little like a choose-your-own-adventure at times. If you don't hit the correct button on the right page, you may miss out on options down the road. There is no real safeguard built in and no particular view mode to see if things were done correctly. You have to make things "live" in order to see if your rules and the benefits worked. In addition, once the benefits have been set up correctly for the employees, it still has to be mapped and moved over for payroll to be able to see things.
- Currently, we are using their remote desktop service which requires us to move anything we want to put on our Employee's Self Service Portal from our desktops to their remote desktops and then copying the correct path to bring it back to our online version of an old MySpace page. I know that they are trying, but it seems as though it is a lot of work for something that should be a lot easier to do with a few more layout and posting options.
- Although they do have some canned reports, most of the reporting functions take time to learn and is best done when one understands how to write Custom Reports to get the information that one is seeking. The Customer Service Reps are usually more than happy to help, but it does take time to explain just what you are looking for and how to make it into a report that would help you. Overall, I think that the structure of the reporting function is solid; however, the user-friendliness of it is not.
- We have been running reports from Ascentis HR to identify our new hires after 30 days and then send them a follow-up survey to see how they are adjusting to the culture. From the results of the survey, we have been able to identify changes that needed to be made in our recruiting, orientation, and hiring practices so that our turnover is not as quick as it once was and that our new hires are better prepared for the jobs ahead of them.
InfinityHR and Ascentis HR are fairly similar in look and feel to the employee. I would say that the biggest difference is how they are for the HR team on the backside. Unlike Ascentis HR, InfinityHR gives a few different employee portals modules for the HR team to choose from and lets them customize it however they would like within certain limits. InfinityHR is also a web-based system, not a remote desktop like Ascentis HR. One of the more difficult things with InfinityHR though is that they performed an upgrade and it screwed up our security settings for the managers in the company. Ascentis HR most definitely has clearer cut security settings and way to track who has what and when. Another one of our issues with InfinityHR was that we could not attach documents or create any additional fields that could just hold text - any blank fields had to be drop down boxes.
Ascentis HR, for the most part, has a wonderful customer service and support team. When you are in the implementation stage and working with your dedicated specialist, you have superb responsiveness, feedback, expectations, and reliability. Goals are clear right from the start and a plan of action to help you get your system up and going is very straightforward. After you transition from your implementation team to the regular customer service team, the quality of care does not go down much. You still have a dedicated rep; however, it is not the same one you had before. Responsiveness is not as timely, but you can call the main customer service line if it is an emergency and need to talk to someone right away. I have found most everyone to be very courteous and respectful. If they are not able to help, they have found someone who can and who would get back to me.
We have a fairly complicated pay structure as we deal with 32 departments and different shift differentials within each of those departments. As we were trying to figure out how to get all of those coded into our Ascentis software so that they would match up with our timekeeping software and still make sure that everyone gets paid correctly. Needless to say, this was giving us a major headache and we weren't sure what to do about it. As we were trying to figure it out, one of our Ascentis reps took it upon himself to call and talk with our time clock software vendor (not Ascentis). The two of them worked it out so that the pay codes and shift differentials could stay in the timekeeping software and that the information needed for payroll would flow from that system back into payroll as needed. Problem solved. It may seem rather simple, but that simple gesture meant a lot to all of us.
Ascentis HR would be well-suited in situations where a detailed job history of the employee and/or his/her supervisor would be of value to the company. I also think that Ascentis HR would be appropriate for a smaller to a mid-sized organization who has a fairly tech-savvy person on staff and is able to navigate through the backend of Ascentis HR. I feel as though it would be more appropriate for an office setting than for a mobile workforce; however, that being said, we have made it work for a mobile workforce. I personally do not think that this would be the right software for anyone who is looking for state-of-the-art technology or something that is super user-friendly.
Ascentis (discontinued) Feature Ratings
Using Ascentis HR
Ascentis HR Training
First, to clarify our "in-person" training was done mainly through Web-X meetings and conference calls. It was the closest thing we got to as far as an "in-person" training for this software. However, for the large majority of it, this type of training worked out well. We were able to share our screens and the trainer was able to share his/her screen. We could follow along with what we were doing in our database in real time and see how different functions worked and how manipulating our information could produce different results. It was also nice in that it provided for real-time results if something hadn't been coded correctly or we were having issues as to why something wasn't working the way we thought it should be. However, it did have some downsides in that we often had to rely on a conference phone and that made it difficult to hear people on both sides. Also, sometimes the trainers had internet difficulties when working from home and that caused issues with the WebX meetings.
Ascentis HR has a number of online training videos to watch on a number of different topics. I gave it a lower rating because there is not much interactivity with the videos and it seems to cater to really only one or two learning styles. Plus, one has to be pretty motivated to go to a separate area to access the videos and then pull up a specific one to watch it and then learn. From my experience, people know that they are there, many just don't take the time and effort to go find them and actually watch them - especially since the username and password are different from their normal username and password.
If the user is fairly well versed in computers and HR products, I think that Ascentis HR would not be tremendously difficult to learn without training. There are definitely some areas that would require a little more concentration and where some background knowledge would be helpful; nevertheless, with some trial and error, I do think that one could learn Ascentis HR without training. However, I personally would not recommend this approach to others as the areas in which I believe the training would be of more benefit include the benefits section as well as the reporting section - both of which are large players in an HRIS software.
Ascentis HR Support
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
No escalation required
Immediate help available
Support cares about my success
Quick Initial Response
No - I believe that support is included in our contract. We have a dedicated support specialist with each one of our areas - payroll, recruiting, HR. If that specialist is not available when we need him/her, we always have the option to go to the main customer support line where we can have a general customer support service representative try to assist us with our issue. We have always found that they seem to be rather knowledgeable about their products as well as the industry in general and have been able to assist us with the issue at hand.
Using Ascentis HR
Overall, it is fairly usable for the average user as long as he/she is at a computer, laptop or a larger tablet and has the ability to view the employee self-service webpage on an internet browser. Because it does not have an app or other mobile interfaces right now, it makes it difficult for it to be useful for most of our employee population who utilize their phones to access the internet. As for the HR professional who would be also working on this interface, it is somewhat easy as about two-thirds of the screens are fairly user-friendly and easy to navigate. Nevertheless, it still leaves about one-third of them that are not as user-friendly and would require more technical knowledge to figure out how to best use them.
Quick to learn
Feel confident using
- Updating employee data such as personal information, employment history, compensation
- Terminating employees through the termination wizard
- Transferring employees from the application side to the HR side - through the Orientation/New Hire set up
- Sending e-mails through the correspondence wizard
- Doing Open Enrollment and setting up the actual benefits
- Adding pictures to the employee's profiles - actually, adding any document to the employee's profile is a bit cumbersome
- The Employee Self-Service Website - not having it set up for a mobile interface makes it difficult for the employees. Also setting it up can be cumbersome for the HR professionals who are setting it up.