Laying The Groundwork For Absence Technology

Posted by Shahlla Karmali on Apr 7, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Stakeholders discuss the groundwork for new absence management technology

Our parent company, Presagia, is contributing a column to each issue of this year's @Work Magazine, a publication by the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC). If you haven't had a chance to check out this excellent resource, we highly recommend that you do! DMEC provides best practice resources for our complex industry and @Work is one of many excellent resources that we always stay on top of! 

This year's column, Absence & Accommodation Technology, focuses on walking employers through the many considerations they should have as they start to look for leave and accommodation technology, dive into the review process, implement their solution, and maintain a healthy relationship with their vendor post go-live. We’ll also be giving an insider’s look at the many pitfalls employers make when assessing and managing technology, with an eye to helping them avoid these common missteps.

As we did with last year's Technology and Absence Management series, we've created this blog series to share each 2020 column with you! To kick things off, here is January's column which discusses how to lay the groundwork for new absence management technology, before even beginning the search.

When an employer is in the market for new absence management technology, it’s important to take a step back and lay the proper groundwork before even launching the search.

To kick off this column on technology and innovation, let me highlight the necessary steps for building a solid foundation that can propel your project past needless frustration.

To prepare for a new solution, your first step is to gather information. Assess the current state of your program. Map out your leave management and accommodation processes, identifying who’s responsible for each step. Review all the leave policies you manage: federal, state, local, and organization-specific. Determine all the systems you have in place that touch absence management. Is your leave and accommodation data in paper files, spreadsheets, shared drives, or a mix of these and more? What are your systems for human resource information, payroll, and timekeeping, and how do they need to interface with your absence management program?

Make sure to identify all stakeholders who need to be part of your decision-making process. Who will be involved in the process of sourcing, implementing, and utilizing the technology? This will likely include case managers, legal counsel, and information technology and information security but may also extend to procurement and even executive leadership. Incorporating your stakeholders throughout the project is crucial to gaining buy-in and holding everyone accountable.

Once you know where you are, the next step is to project where you want to be. Work with all stakeholders to determine everyone’s requirements and design your ideal future state. While you may not be able to address every requirement, it’s important to gather all the information you can to look at the bigger picture.

From here, it’s time to perform your gap analysis to see how your current absence management program compares to your future goals. Work with your stakeholders to build your list of requirements, clearly prioritizing your must-haves, like-to-haves, and do-not-needs. As you work through this process, you may find that some items you once thought were crucial are in fact low priority. Your gap analysis will also help you resist the temptation to focus on technology rather than on your organization’s requirements.

Now that you have a strong idea of what you want, think about your timeline and your purchasing process. At a minimum, do some research on the available absence management systems that seem to meet your needs, then set up demos to verify that they actually do. If you’re in a large organization with a formal purchasing department, you will need to follow the process this group adheres to, which might involve a request for proposal.

You also need to understand your budgeting process and how this plays into your timeline; put this simple step early in your process. I’ve been involved in many system selections in which people thought they had the budget but forgot to simply ask those who hold the purse strings what their company’s specific budgeting process is, thereby sidelining the entire project. When is the right time of year to submit for budget? Who needs to sign off on projects? What budget range is your starting point, even if you believe you might exceed that?

While your selection process will be unique, you can count on the steps above to guide your absence management technology search around delays and errors.

Topics: Leave Management, Absence Management, Technology

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