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Leave Management Software, No Really, Where Do I Start?! - Part I

By Scott Lenox, National Sales Representative at OCI

This seems to be a question I continue to hear across a variety of different sized companies and at all different levels of HR leaders who are interested in moving from a manual leave tracking environment to a more automated system. Whether you have challenges with tracking FMLA, reporting, compliance, work flow consistency, a de-centralized leave management operation, or if you are simply looking to bring your outsourced operations back in house, the question remains the same, “where do I start?” Implementing a system can seem daunting at times, but in the end, it will give you administrative efficiency, improved compliance, a comprehensive view of your leave management trends, and a higher ROI of your HR department.

In Part I & II of this blog series I’ll try and offer some knowledge which can help make your journey in choosing a leave management system a little bit easier. These are tips that I’ve encountered while working in the industry for 11 years. Every organization is different, and these recommendations may not work for everyone, so I will try to keep my suggestions as general as possible.

First, I would recommend determining the need. Start with asking questions. The more questions you ask, and the more honest the response, the better. Some questions that you can ask of your leave management operations may include:

  • Do I know how many employees are out on leave at any given time?
  • Do I know why these employees are out on leave? (Here’s the big one) Do I know when these employees are expected to return to work?
  • Do I know how much money these leaves are costing our organization?
  • Do I know what leave policies are working or hurting our return to work numbers?
  • Do we have the right practices in place that benefit the employee and the organization?
  • What are we currently using to track leaves? Calendars? Excel Files? Access Reports?

If you hesitate on one, or more, or all of these questions, you may be in the right position to start exploring a leave management software system.

First, you’ll need a Project Manager. Whether this person is you, or someone you assign, the Project Manager needs to own the project AND be able to make key decisions. Having one person in charge of the overall project will keep the project moving while meeting deadlines that the Project Manager has designated important. Some examples of key dates may include:

  • Budget meetings
  • RFP Process – vendor research, demos, references, finalist selection,
  • Contract finalization
  • Implementation meetings
  • Testing
  • Go Live Date

Taking that first step to begin vendor research can be a bit overwhelming. Once again, where do I start?! You may run into some technical terms that you may not fully understand. (That’s okay, odds are you weren’t a MIS major or rebuilding computers in your garage in high school so don’t get discouraged!) Stay focused on what you are trying to accomplish for your organization. Do plenty of research online, talk with other HR leaders to see what they can share/recommend, attend speaking engagements at conferences that can give you insight, and last but not least, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call a vendor and start asking questions. Ask them if they have a demonstration of their system available, and if they can send you some information to review. Doing this once or twice, you will be on your way to understanding how the whole process works.

Stay tuned to next week’s blog post - Leave Management Software, No Really, Where Do I Start?! - Part II

Scott Lenox has been selling in the HR and Technology industries for over 11 years. Scott grew up in rural Illinois about 100 miles west of Chicago. He now resides in the Chicagoland area with his wife and three year old daughter, Stella.