Based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Clark Service Group has been providing installation and maintenance services for commercial kitchens on the east coast since 2017. But after breaking off from their parent company, they had to figure out a new solution. With multi-skilled employees distributed across several states, creating an efficient payroll and reporting workflow that worked with their existing system became quite difficult. Criterion helped them develop a solution that was just right for their needs.
Upon separating from Clark Associates (the parent company), Clark Service Group suddenly had to figure out how to do payroll on their own for the first time. But their payroll process is more complex than many other companies their size in the same industry.
For starters, about 75% of Clark Service Group employees work in the field, and many across several states (sometimes traveling between them in the same pay period). Each state has its own unique tax rules, which can make payroll calculations quite complex.
Clark Service Group also has highly specialized workers. Many employees can do plumbing, electric work, and more for kitchen installation, hood installation, and similar union-like jobs. This type of work comes with a lot of prevailing wage requirements, meaning that pay rates and conditions often vary according to the specific activity the employee is doing.
With so many different departments, a unique time tracking process and software setup, and all the different types of pay an employee could receive during any given week — there was a lot of work to do with each payroll cycle. The abundance of rules about pay also made it difficult to automate any sort of payroll reporting through general ledger mapping.
What’s more, their previous payroll software didn’t allow them to pull any PDF or Excel forms. Their access to data was limited, which made accounting slow and restricted visibility into the company’s financial health.
Clark Service Group needed an HCM that could account for all the regulations and categories that applied to their payroll processes. They also needed something to make payroll, reporting, and timekeeping more efficient while still working with their existing systems.
“We’re so specialized in what we do. Our employees can do plumbing, or electric, or any of those things…That's one of the reasons why Criterion was chosen because [they] could handle the prevailing wage part of it…we have these employees who are on a prevailing wage one day, and then they’re making regular wages the next day... ” — Louisa Clark
In 2021, Clark Service Group was exposed to Criterion through a pre-existing partnership. Once they realized what the HCM could truly handle in terms of unique wage calculations and their open API integration, Criterion’s Payroll and HR modules proved to be the best choice for their complex payroll needs. Today, they are also learning more about the capabilities of the Talent Engagement module and how it can help with recruiting.
“The other payroll systems we looked into… [for] all of them, we would have to have a separate software, separate system, or some type of separate login in order to process prevailing wage payroll.” — Louisa Clark
Once they made the decision to use Criterion, their challenges weren’t over. They began implementing the software at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which quarantines and supply chain issues made the process more stressful than it would have been otherwise. At the same time, they were also implementing a new ERP, moving to a new corporate office, and implementing a new 401K plan.
Things were rocky at first, to say the least. But Criterion helped them through the implementation process with a steady support staff and a consistent point of contact for their account. Whenever they had a problem or question about the software, they were able to reach out to their account manager or the customer service team for help.
Today, Clark Service Group uses Criterion to run payroll, manage employee data, track time, and generate reports with ease.
“When we were going through vetting the other payroll companies out and even starting the implementation process we found the things [other companies] said they could do, they really couldn't do anyway — and the price is incredibly reasonable for what we're provided." - Louisa Clark
Since Clark Service Group started using Criterion, they’ve seen several benefits and improved efficiency across several departments.
Automated Payroll Processing
With Criterion, all payroll calculations are coded into the backend. The employee and timekeeping data connect to the Payroll module to account for specific employee demographics (location, positions, etc.) and labor hours to calculate payroll and prevailing wages for each pay period. Without a doubt, this has been the most helpful feature for Clark Service Group. With the ability to automate wage and tax calculations, they were able to maintain compliance with regulations and make payroll more efficient with zero payment delays.
Past concerns with prevailing wage were eliminated, thanks to Criterion’s flexible payroll features. Their HR team is now able to ensure accuracy in employee pay, regardless of how many conditions affect the week’s payroll. All they need to do is input the data, and Criterion does all the calculations for them.
“It's done a good job with all the rules that we have and all of the different pay rates that our employees could be working on in a given week…The way that they set up the system upon implementation has made all of that much easier on a weekly basis to process our payroll." - Lindsey Sherman
Seamless Integration with Timekeeping Software
Before using Criterion, Clark Service Group had a unique tech stack which included a custom timekeeping app built specifically for a select group of employees working out in the field. While many employees use Criterion for timekeeping, this custom platform was indispensable for some team members.
Integrating this app with their new HCM/Payroll system was a major concern. While a lot of software platforms talk about their open API capabilities, many use some form of middleware that is eventually connected to another database, or some similar construction.
With Criterion, our open API is truly open. That means there’s no middleware and no unnecessary add-ons — just one integrated database. This has allowed Clark Service Group to completely integrate their custom timekeeping app directly with Criterion. Now, when Clark pushes time over to Criterion, that data gets moved directly to the database which also processes payroll, creating a much more efficient process.
While Clark Service Group was unique in that they had in-house development capabilities, Criterion’s open API can be valuable for anyone, regardless of tech sophistication. Criterion will collaborate with your team to develop the integrations and customizations you need to make it work with your existing system.
"Every week, we just download the information, and it feeds that into Criterion — other [payroll platforms] were not able to make that work...” - Louisa Clark
Enhanced Custom Reporting
With all the different pay rates and types of pay Clark Service Group employees might need, GL mapping was incredibly difficult due to the sheer number of rules and variations on wages. This made it somewhat difficult to generate payroll reports and transfer that data to their ERP.
In Criterion, any field can be the basis of a new report. That means there are hundreds of reports already available at your fingertips. Now, Clark Service Group is able to pull more reports than ever before, and it doesn’t take much time at all. They get the exact data they need from a batch report for each week’s payroll. Then, they upload the data right into their ERP for clean accounting records.
The report also allows them to drill down into payroll costs on specific jobs and spot checks to find key job cost data for other reports. All this provides much needed support for workers’ compensation and 401K audits.
On top of the many reports built into the software, the Criterion team can also help you build custom reports. For Clark Service Group, the Criterion team has built a custom report that allows them to submit complex 401K data themselves in a very specific format.
"The Excel forms that we were able to pull out and the batch data that we have access to allows [us] to do all kinds of reporting that I don't know how we would do in another system." — Louisa Clark
Improved Document Control and Self Service Features
Criterion has also helped Clark Service Group establish a more robust document control system. They now use Criterion’s native features to upload and provide access to documents for both the entire company (e.g. the employee handbook, insurance plan information, etc.) and specific employees (e.g. W-2s).
The platform allows their HR team to have granular control over who can access which documents and makes it easier for employees to find documents on their own when needed. This, in turn, saves their HR team a lot of time answering simple requests for documents.
“The fact that we have the W-2s in [Criterion] has drastically decreased the amount of people who are asking us for their W-2.” - Louisa Clark
Employees also save time by making use of other self-service features. The intuitive design and accessibility now allows their team members to:
- Track time
- Submit time off requests
- Enroll in new insurance plans
- Update their own employee profiles
Optimize Your Payroll and HR Processes With Criterion
No matter what your industry or how complex your system, Criterion can help you work out the perfect payroll and HR solution for your needs. We handle multi-state payroll and several other payroll complexities like no one else.
Like with Clark Service Group, we’ll help automate your payroll process, generate custom reports, and make your HR workflows more efficient — all while integrating with your existing tech stack. Our open API offers more possibilities than many other platforms on the market, and our team is here to help make it all work according to your needs.
Book a demo today to learn how Criterion can streamline your HR processes without sacrificing the features you love.