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Posted: 5/5/2011
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Dayforce ISV Helps Businesses Increase Labor Efficiency by 50 Percent to Boost Profitability

Dayforce selected the Microsoft Silverlight web development platform to build its innovative workforce management solution. By using Silverlight, Dayforce has reduced its development costs by 75 percent while empowering customers to increase schedule efficiency by up to 50 percent.

Business Needs
All companies strive to staff efficiently to control labor costs and strengthen their competitive advantage.

However, software solutions designed to address this problem often suffer from three critical shortcomings: lack of user adoption, limited scalability, and slow system performance. Low adoption typically stems from the failure to reconcile the underlying complexity of such software with employees' expectations for an intuitive and responsive user experience. In turn, if employees avoid using the system, businesses experience little return on investment (ROI) in the technology. Many of these systems have been designed to meet the needs of specific market segments and lack built-in flexibility to scale up or down in response to individual business requirements. Finally, inherent limitations in Java, HTML, and Adobe Flash have prevented applications built on those web platforms from achieving the performance that staff managers need to stay productive. In short, slower response rates dramatically increase the amount of time that managers spend working on labor management tasks.

Dayforce recognized the opportunity to provide enterprise-grade workforce management solutions that overcome these obstacles. The company’s solutions combine a compelling user experience, the flexibility to scale from fewer than 100 to more than 100,000 employees, and cloud-based system performance rivaling that of a native desktop application.

The Dayforce team, including CEO David Ossip, had experience developing data-driven web applications using Java and HTML. They understood the limitations of these and other, similar platforms. “Java and Flash-based applications rely on intensive communication between the server and the client, and that can mean response times as high as eight seconds or more per click,” says Ossip. “Such solutions can also require a very large server installation, which increases the cost of service to customers.” In addition, the company found that the programming model for Java-based applications was too complex to enable agile development, testing, and release cycles. “With Java on the backend and JavaScript, Ajax, and HTML or Flash on the client side, there are so many moving parts to consider,” says Ossip. “This makes it difficult and expensive to code, debug, test the application, and still get to market quickly.”

Dayforce built its workforce management solution using the Microsoft Silverlight web development platform. “We see Silverlight as a revolutionary technology for creating powerful and flexible business applications in the browser—applications that deliver amazingly fast run times and rich user experiences,” says Ossip. The company eagerly capitalized on its development team’s familiarity with the Microsoft .NET Framework programming model. It formally launched its Silverlight-based application in early 2009 and continues to provide updated releases on a six-week development cycle.

* We see Silverlight as a revolutionary technology for creating powerful and flexible business applications in the browser—applications that deliver amazingly fast run times and rich user experiences. *

David Ossip
CEO, Dayforce

When managers access the solution, they are presented with performance dashboards, approval workflows, employee time cards, and task checklists. By navigating deeper into the application, they can view their company’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to construct a labor plan and determine coverage requirements for the week. As managers adjust scheduled shifts by dragging and dropping elements on the screen, they instantly see the impact of each change on KPIs, sales, profitability, and production quotas. “Because Silverlight uses client computing resources, we’re able to run a full labor compliance engine in the browser with near-zero latency,” says Ossip. “This gives managers immediate feedback so they can plan more strategically and effectively.”

Employees can also use the system to manage their own schedules. From a single screen, they are able to view their scheduled hours, submit leave requests, view their time cards, and manage their personal availability. “The consistent feedback we get from employees is that they love the tool because it’s so easy to use, which is the key to widespread adoption,” says Ossip.

Dayforce worked with Microsoft to validate its solution. Microsoft sponsored extensive performance testing of the application at Microsoft Technology Centers (MTC) in both New York City and San Francisco. During rigorous testing over a two-week period, the company proved the scalability of its Silverlight application up to hundreds of thousands of employees—more than sufficient to meet the requirements set by multibillion dollar clients. The team recorded sub-second average response times, with no response requiring more than 250 milliseconds. “The MTC experts have always been great to work with and tremendously helpful in supporting our company’s rapid growth,” says Ossip.

By using Microsoft Silverlight, Dayforce developed an advanced solution that offers rich functionality, enterprise-grade scalability, and superior responsiveness. In fact, some customers have reported efficiency gains of up to 50 percent.

Agile Development Process
The company’s developers built on their familiarity with the Microsoft .NET Framework to increase efficiency. “Instead of working across multiple languages, our developers were able to use a single code base to create both server and client components, saving huge amounts of time,” says Ossip. “We can create code using Silverlight at 25 percent of the cost as compared to primarily using Java.”

Labor Planning Efficiency Gains of 50 Percent
Owing to the unique architecture model of Silverlight, the solution enables impressive throughput performance with sub-second response rates. Managers who have used the solution report spending 50 percent less time on labor planning activities than before. For an international retailer with 1,000 stores, this efficiency gain resulted in cost savings of approximately U.S.$2 million a year.

Scalability at One-Thirtieth the Cost
The Dayforce team also took advantage of the advanced architecture of Silverlight—which enables calculations to be performed in the browser using local CPU resources—to create a highly scalable application. “Because server requirements are so minimal, we’re able to scale at one-thirtieth the cost relative to that of a Java-based application,” says Ossip.

Additional Resources:
Get Started with Microsoft Silverlight: Install

Read more about Microsoft Silverlight for Business: Case Studies

Solution Overview

Organization Size: 100 employees

Organization Profile

Dayforce is a provider of highly usable, enterprise-class workforce management solutions that integrate organizational performance into employee planning, scheduling, and management processes.

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Silverlight
  • Microsoft SQL Server

Vertical Industries
Architecture, Engineering & Construction

United States

Business Need
  • Cost Containment
  • Business Productivity

IT Issue
Personal Productivity