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How to Simplify Your Company’s Time-Off Request Process

Blog: ProcessMaker Blog

Brand new start-ups and very small businesses may find the process of requesting paid time off straightforward. Affected employees may be notified by nothing more than a note on the calendar in the break room, or a memo reminding everyone that an employee will be away for a few days. But as your company grows beyond just a handful of people, scheduling and accounting for paid time off rapidly becomes more complicated.

Tracking time off for more than a few people can be fiendishly complicated.

If two key people take time off simultaneously, certain groups could be seriously short-handed. If an employee has vacation he has to use by the end of the fiscal year to avoid losing it, scheduling it and keeping that employee’s projects on track could be challenging. Medium-sized and larger companies often turn to workflow software to accelerate business processes, and it’s well-suited to managing the time-off request process.

Problems With Paper-Based Time-Off Request Processes

A surprising number of organizations still use paper-based time-off requests, and there are many shortcomings to this approach. For one thing, it’s inefficient. Filling out paper forms is usually more time-consuming than filling out electronic forms, and when time-off requests have to be manually routed amongst approving officials, it’s slow, and there are many opportunities for errors or for forms to be lost altogether. Long approval cycles make it harder on managers to arrange for temps or reassign employees to cover for the absent employee. And when time-off requests are completed by hand, you have the possibility of illegible handwriting or smudges leading to confusion.

Using an Electronic Request Process Online Solves Many Problems

Workflow software can solve the problems associated with paper-based time-off requests. Not only can request forms be completed more quickly, they can be automatically routed to the right people the instant a particular step in the process is completed. Electronic forms created with workflow software won’t be lost or smudged by coffee cups, and the speed of workflow software gives managers and supervisors more time to arrange for substitute or temp workers so that the absence of an employee isn’t as disruptive as it otherwise might be.

Automatic Alerts Accelerate the Approval Process

Workflows can be set to notify people when their input is required in a process.

If someone leaves a paper time-off request form on your desk or in your inbox while you’ve stepped out for a moment, you may or may not notice it when you return. If it manages to get buried beneath other papers, the time-off approval process can be seriously delayed. But if you use workflow software to make the process electronic, you can build in automatic alerts so that recipients are instantly notified when their input is required in the process. Once that is completed, the electronic form is instantly and automatically routed to the next person in the workflow. Besides being significantly faster, there is far less room for error.

Tracking and Reconciling Paid Time Off Is Simpler and More Accurate

Manually keeping track of paid time off accrued, requested, and used is overly complicated and mistakes can occur at any number of steps in the cycle. That’s why many companies turn to workflow software to create an online process that can not only automate the request process for paid time off, but also track leave accruals and how much paid time off a particular employee has left. Workflow software is especially useful when different employee positions or employees with different tenures accrue time off at different rates.


Successful implementation of workflow software doesn’t have to require the services of your IT staff or the hiring of programmers. ProcessMaker is comprehensive, open source workflow software that comes with an impressive collection of tools and which can be further customized to fit each user’s specific requirements. We invite you to try out our Enterprise Edition, or download our Community Edition of ProcessMaker and see its capabilities for yourself.

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