Inflector is an environmental service contractor based out of Ottawa, Ontario, specializing in demolition services and remediation work for asbestos, lead, and similar dangerous materials. For several years, they’ve provided exceptional service to both residential and commercial clients. But with five office locations across Canada and multiple union affiliations, payroll and reporting quickly became difficult for them to manage.
In 2020, Inflector entered a massive growth period, and their previous tech stack could not handle the new size and complexity of their workforce. They needed a solution that could handle their intricate payroll challenges while integrating with a new ERP system. That’s where Criterion came in.
We spoke to Patrick Goodhue, the Project Manager for Systems and Analytics at Inflector to learn how Criterion helped them develop a more sustainable system.
Inflector has a philosophy of taking on just about any project that comes their way, as long as it's in their field. Accordingly, they also employ a variety of laborers from different unions, and they’re signatory to the painter’s union. However, union rules in Canada often vary by region and local. Plus, some regions are not unionized at all, meaning union rules are void for all employees working in those areas. This results in incredibly complex rules affecting payroll and deductions.
For example, one local might have just a flat rate for union dues per month, while the same union in another local might have dues set as an hourly rate. As an employer with jobs across several different union locals, Inflector is responsible for ensuring those dues are paid according to the correct rules for each one — every single payroll cycle.
What’s more, Inflector has several employees that travel back and forth from Quebec in the same week, making for some very unique payroll calculations.
The company was previously running payroll and other accounting processes entirely through Sage 50. While it worked to some degree for an employee roster of one hundred or fewer, the system wasn’t able to handle the complexities of multi-union, multi-location payroll or accounting for their growing roster, which reached more than 500 in just a few years.
Even as they outgrew their previous solution, Inflector still operated a lean payroll and accounting team of only three people. With so many systematic errors in payroll, employees were constantly reporting mistakes, which required even more work for the already-strapped team to fix. What’s more, these errors occurred nearly every pay period, usually around union rules and proper compensation calculations. In turn, it was tough for anyone to trust the reliability of the system, and while the payroll team was working hard, it put strain on their relationship with other employees as well.
“It was just becoming an issue at a higher level than it needed to be on the payroll side….We were losing our controller for multiple days a week to go through and do general posting and make sure payroll was aligned.”
Because their previous payroll system required so many adjustments from accounting each pay period, it also tied up the time of key accounting team members. They were spending countless hours fixing payroll errors and doing manual reporting to the general ledger, with almost no time left to do anything else.
After upgrading their ERP to Microsoft Dynamics, Inflector decided they also needed an HCM solution to handle their payroll complexities and other key HR processes. They investigated several other payroll solutions, but none could do what they needed.
In the end, Criterion HCM emerged as the most viable solution for their complex payroll and HR needs.
“We did a bunch of interviews and Criterion was the one that checked the most boxes as we went through…We settled on Criterion for a bunch of reasons. One being the price point was right. Two — the capabilities to develop within the system, specifically union items, which a couple of the other products weren’t able to deliver for us.”
Part of the solution was to integrate Criterion with Microsoft Dynamics, for a fully connected HCM and ERP solution. Inflector now uses Criterion to run payroll as well as manage salary and paid time off, while using Dynamics for project management and accounting.
“Throughout implementation, it was great…They were great to work with and still are.”
While the Inflector team approached implementation from a non-technical background, they could easily describe their needs to the Criterion team to get the results they needed. Our team successfully integrated Criterion and Microsoft Dynamics, and fully implemented the system in less than a year.
“You can kind of interpret all the needs and everything that you want to do in a language that people understand and then rely on [the Criterion team] as the experts…to push it through. So, you never felt like you weren’t up to speed on it as you were going through, even if you didn’t understand the technical ins and outs of it — they just walked you through the process of what we were working on next and what the expectation for the output was.”
Since implementing Criterion, Inflector’s operations have improved in several ways, such as:
Automated Payroll With Union Complexities
With Criterion, Inflector could set up all of the specific parameters and output needs to automate payroll for different union requirements. The systematic errors of the previous solution are no longer a problem, saving tons of time for their employees.
“Working with Criterion…the system was able to accommodate all the needs across the country…If the information is put in correctly, it flows through a reliable system and people get paid correctly.”
The system is even able to accommodate the various union needs with a paper time entry system to make payroll more efficient and reliable for everyone involved.
“It’s easy to identify now if a timesheet or something gets through to payroll [incorrectly]... we don’t even question the Criterion side.”
Efficiency of an ERP and HCM Integration
“The sync between Dynamics and Criterion is a big thing for us.”
Integrating Criterion HCM with Microsoft Dynamics was key to Inflector’s successful growth as a company. This solution now allows them to export payroll data and post it to their general ledger automatically. Thanks to the API integration, Inflector can now pull project information from Dynamics into Criterion, creating a one-stop shop to set up projects and labor allocation. Then, after each payroll cycle, Inflector sends that information back to Dynamics for accurate accounting and reporting.
“We’re able to just set it up in one spot — to bring all the information including job members, cost codes, all that stuff — and then we’re able to apply that to a user within Criterion.”
Now, Criterion is the system of record for payroll (and related reports) while Dynamics handles project management and accounting. Yet, the two platforms are seamlessly connected via API. With this connectivity, Criterion now generates multiple custom reports to help Inflector gain better visibility into labor and timesheet data.
“If we need information specific to an employee or hours allocated to a certain employee each week, we know that Criterion houses that information…the information is so consistent between the two [programs], that we’re able to rely on that connectivity.”
Simpler Information Management
In addition to payroll and reporting, Inflector also uses Criterion to manage other HR processes such as:
- Distributing pay stubs
- Managing vacation and time off for employees
- Sending key notifications to managers
Compared to their previous setup, this has made manager workflows less stressful and much more efficient.
“The fact that there’s an email that goes out and people get notified when there’s a time off request from a management perspective — it makes it really easy at that point to manage all the information.”
Great Customer Support
Inflector also benefits from Criterion’s continued support. When they have a new challenge or issue to solve, the Criterion team always responds with a clear solution to the problem, no matter where it originates.
“We’ve had multiple instances too where the issue isn’t on the Criterion side, but Criterion’s been able to identify what the issue is and the questions we actually need to ask to the other side. So it’s been a good partnership on that side.”
At Criterion, we don’t juggle our customers through a call center. We provide every user with a dedicated customer success rep who answers questions quickly and accurately.
“The responses are always very quick and the action is reliable — that’s the main thing.”
Get Criterion: An HCM Built to Handle Complexity
Criterion has worked with several companies in Canada and the United States over the years with similar needs in terms of multi-union, multi-local payroll. More specifically, we’ve worked with lots of companies that operate throughout Canada (even in Quebec), and we can handle those union regulations with ease.
We’ve built our software to address the complexity of many different industries — so HR teams can be more efficient and effective. We’ll help you navigate any unique payroll or HR challenge, including collective bargaining agreements and integration with any third party software.
Book a demo of Criterion to learn how our HCM can improve your operations in no time.
“From a construction industry perspective, there’s always so much customizable work that’s required…. And Criterion can do a lot of different things — but the biggest thing is to feel like you’re working with people on it as you go through, and they accommodate the needs.”