Here are a few items of interest.

People-Trak Reviewed in HR Magazine
32-Bit Version Features List

People-Trak HRMS Offers Low Cost, Efficiency and Many Options

by Jim Meade

Chances are you like to create reports on unused employee vacation time, find job-applicants with Java training, track executive pay increases for the previous year or do anything else you can do with a complete HR management system. But if you have a limited budget for software, training, equipment upgrades and consulting, People-Trak HRMS from Technical Difference, Inc may be just what you’re seeking.

Company president Jim Witschger calls People-Trak the "populist" choice and an "upstart". "There is nothing close to it within four or five times the price," he says.

Jeffrey Blau, director of HR and information systems at Nercon Engineering & Manufacturing in Oshkosh, Wis, concurs, calling the product "a great value at even twice the price."

What it Does

People-Trak is a full-featured, Windows-based HRIS that can prepare any report you can envision and plenty of others you might never dream up on your own. The program contains modules for Personnel, Applicants, Requisitions, Job Profiles and Contacts. You can key in information, import it, or transfer it from one module to another, such as from Applicants to Personnel.

To prepare a report, you choose Reporting from the menu, then click on either Custom Reports or Standard Reports or Alternate Report Writer. The hundreds of built-in reports come in categories ranging from Balances, Benefits and Compensation to EEO, Recruiting and Wellness.

People-Trak comes with many preprogrammed reports, and you can pull them up and tweak them a little bit," says Laila Allen, HR manager with Cardiff Software Inc., in San Marcos, Calif. "I didn’t even have to program them from scratch." You can choose from pre-written letters, such as an anniversary letter or a COBRA confirmation. And, if you wish, you can readily edit the letter in Microsoft Word or create forms and labels as needed.

What I Like

It’s not so much that People-Trak does all the standard things an HRIS should do and more. What I find remarkable is that the program does it all so efficiently. Blau, a systems analayst as well as a head of HR, describes the program as "well-designed, fast and efficient code with a lot of functionality built into a one-megabyte file."

This is brilliant programming with innumerable neat design features. You can change field names, even the Help files, on your own with having to turn to MIS. Reports always display first on the screen saving you from printing over and over. Strong security features include the ability to restrict any user’s access to only what you want that person to see.

People-Trak’s simple and clear design makes it easy to learn and use. For instance, Judy Zeiss, HR manager at Composite Optics Inc. in San Diego describes herself as "the least computer literate person you’ll ever speak to." But, she says "I can configure my own reports with little stress and strain."

Those who want all the latest in 32-bit Windows will find it in People-Trak’s forthcoming version scheduled for September release. In addition, Technical Difference delivers the primary benefit of efficient computer code- it keeps the price low. You can buy one of the program’s modules for $495, which sounds more like the price for a mass-market Windows program than for a specialized HR product.

Nor do you run into ongoing costs for training, consulting and upgrades. "It’s what I call ‘very low maintenance,’" attests Allen. "You don’t have to keep calling, updating, getting new training. It’s powerful enough to do what we need."

As Witschger puts it, "We don’t create codependent relationships." But if you do feel a little dependent, the phone support is excellent. "Any time I needed help, I would call them, and right over the phone, within five minutes, they’d have what I needed programmed for me," says Allen.

What Could be Improved

Witschger confesses that the company may have gotten carried away with its own minimalist approach. The documentation, for example, is one casualty. Although it is short, it is too earnest, too detailed and just a slow read. Chances are you’ll be like Allen, who says, "I’ve never opened their manual; I call them instead."

Similarly, the Help files are likely to be useful to you MIS department-but not always to you. You can can find out that the blank called emp-number is alpha-numeric and 12 characters long. But you won’t find any good HR advice on what to put in there or common mistakes to avoid. If you click on the Help item and choose Contents, you get no introductory material. the only help is specific information on the fields.

There’s little color on the screen and not pictures and you can’t insert a photo.

Essentially, though, I’d say that such seeming limitations are the kind of trade-offs you might expect from a program that emphasizes performance and price instead of pizzazz.


In the gilded world of modern software, you’ll rarely find straightfoward technical brilliance. However, you will find it in People-Trak HRMS, which bills itself as "No. 2 in Human Resources Software."

The program can create any report you want, doesn’t cost much and continues to be low cost as you use it over time. In short, it "tries harder".

Jim Meade, PH.D is president of Meade Ink Inc in Fairfield, Iowa, which provides writing and technical translating services. His e’mail addres is [email protected].

Reprinted from Human Resources Magazine, September 1998.


32-Bit Version Features List
The 32-bit versions of all People-Trak products will be available on January 1, 1999. The 32-bit version of People-Trak will retain all of the performance and features of the current 16-bit version and will also include the following new features.

Language Upgrade. People-Trak 16-bit was developed in Visual Basic 3. People-Trak 32-bit is being developed in Visuable Basic 6.

Access Database. The xBase database is being replaced with a 32 bit version of Access. This provides far greater flexibility, complete SQL compliance, and future scalability to the robust SQL Server database for large scale implementations.

Office 97 User Interface. The new user interface takes its cue from Office 97 and Windows 98. It is state of the art and more importantly: familiar and comfortable.

Enhanced security. All user security has been switched from a heirarchical method to a binary method. This provides for even more flexibilty and control. The interface for establishing security is very simple point and click.

Complete New Help Engine. The Help Engine is entirely new along with the Help itself. Help for customized fields can still be changed to reflect that customization.

New Customization Features. You may now change both the length of fields and the type of field. For example, if you wanted the middle initial field to be 20 characters instead of 1, you can change it. If you wish to change a currency field to a date field, you can do it.

Improved Document Viewer. The document viewer now has extensive editing capabilites so that you can modify a report before actually printing. External headers allow you to change font sizes and modify the document without causing page overflow and underflow problems. External headers are translated to MS Word if you wish to modify the document within Word. Columnar reports can be output directly to MS Excel.

Improved Form and Letter Editor. The new document editor allows Word like capability. You may now create forms with full tabbing, font changes, lines, and insertable pictures.

Salary Batch Processing. There are two new programs for salary batch processing. One program allows you to make salary changes in a batch where the changes are unique per employee. The other program allows you to make bulk changes using a query and a formula. For example, if you wish to update all members of a union with a 5% increase, you can do it in one pass while automatically creating salary history.

Alternate Compensation History. A new grid on the compensation screen tracks bonus and commission history. A button allows you to calculate an annualized salary by adding the base rate for the year to the sum of the bonuses and commissions.

This is just a sample of the many, many new features in the 32 bit version. Look for additional details in the weeks to come.


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