The Unsung Heroes of Vacation Scheduling

It’s been an extremely hot summer here in Maryland with many days exceeding the 100 degree mark. While most people get excited talking about their vacation destinations, there is no rest for the folks that have to manage all that time off for large companies. They are the unsung heroes of summer.

I’ve worked for large companies in the past, and I never realized the effort that goes into balancing associate time off with company objectives…until I talked with Terry Schilling, VP of Sales and Marketing, at Tugboat Software.

Tugboat Software specializes in vacation scheduling software along with labor scheduling for medium to large companies. To properly set up their EchoQuote instance, I needed to understand as much as possible about vacation scheduling software, and how customers purchase and use it.

Vacation Scheduling Software

For vacation scheduling, although organizational policies take precedence, employee requests can be handed in several different ways. For example, the organization may designate some vacation requests as “first-come-first-served”. Other requests are processed automatically in a batch based on seniority, vacation credits and other policies. From the employee’s perspective, Tugboat’s vacation scheduling solution enables all of this with self-service features that they can easily access at home from the Internet. Even better, for those “first-come-first-served” requests, the software can provide an instant grant so the employee learns without waiting whether they can take the vacation or not.

Maintaining “Key staff” on board further complicates vacation scheduling. But this is handled with a system that manages quotas for the total allowed off from any group.

Of course, Tugboat’s vacation scheduling software is built to handle a variety of requirements. The difficult part, according to Terry, is sorting out the policies up-front that govern time off. This is where Tugboat’s years of experience pays off.

So, before you leave on vacation, thank the person whose job it is to schedule your time. Remember that while we’re vacationing, it is their *busy* season. Even though your time off is well deserved, it must be balanced with an endless set of rules and objectives to keep the organization on solid ground. The vacation schedulers make it look easy, especially if they are using Tugboat software.

Posted by Dale Underwood, CEO EchoQuote

, VP of Sales and Marketing, at Tugboat Software.

One Response to “The Unsung Heroes of Vacation Scheduling”

  1. Terry Schilling

    We call it “Instant Vacation Grant” and it’s a terrific deal for both employees and managers. Here’s how it works.

    The majority of vacation requests are granted in seniority order. However policies vary from one enterprise to another and it’s also typical that, after an initial round where vacations requests are handled this way, employees are allowed to take part of their vacation allotment on a first-come-first-served basis. With a mature workforce, and this is a pretty big contingent in manufacturing in the US today, it’s also typical that they’re allowed to take some of their vacation in single days. These can be processed instantly. How do we manage all this?

    The system keeps a running total of everyone’s vacation balance – time taken off, time remaining available, even credits or merit awards. It also keeps track of just how many employees are allowed off during any given period. This can be broken down into any unit necessary (e.g. by shift, by department, by crew, by skill. Or combinations thereof. Even by job).

    At any time, the vacation scheduling system knows how many people have already been granted their vacations. So when an employee selects days or even weeks from a calendar, the system quickly checks their balance, the quota for say their department and can then “instantly” decide whether the request should be granted or not. Bingo. Instant Grant. They learn right now. In the words of the project manager at Moen, one of our customers, “No more putting plans on hold”.

    You don’t even have to go to your supervisor or the HR office for any of this. It’s all available from your own home via the Internet. As an added bonus, if an employee wants to cancel a vacation, they do this over the Internet as well and the open slot goes back into the pool of vacation-time available for others.

    Unless you’re dealing with a fairly small group, Instant Grant is the sort of thing that you couldn’t consider with manual methods. However a fully automated solution, such as Tugboat, has developed makes this a very easy benefit to provide. Once in place, the workload in the HR office is significantly reduced. According to one of our customers, “In the past we had scheduled vacations in each department individually by calling each employee in and doing it one-by-one by seniority”. How typical is this? This all goes away with Tugboat’s vacation scheduling solution.