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Citizens Information Service

Citizens Information Service automates and streamlines its workforce management with Softworks - CASE STUDY

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The Citizens Information Service (CIS) provides information, advice, and advocacy on a broad range of public and social services for the people of Ireland. It is a charitable organisation funded publicly through the Citizens Information Board.


Project background


In 2018 the Citizens Information Board created a new organisational structure by grouping 42 of its locally based CIS companies to form 8 new regional service delivery companies. The new regional companies decided to implement a Workforce Management Solution to automate and standardise the manual-based processes they were using for employee Time and Attendance and HR management.

Commenting on the decision to go to tender for a cloud-based Workforce Management Solution, Noel O’Connor, Regional Manager of North Leinster Citizens Information Service and Project Manager for the rollout said:

“While each of the forty-two companies was working from a collectively agreed employee handbook, each had their own processes in place for managing staff leave and other entitlements on a day-to-day basis, ranging from paper to spreadsheets to office workflows. After the eight regional companies were established, it was a good time to regularise the way we were all working to ensure a consistent approach across our network.”

The Challenge

Automated workforce management

The CIS wanted to eliminate paper and spreadsheets in the management of employee Time and Attendance, Leave and HR to support a standardised approach across the 8 regional service organisations.

“Employees record their working time on timesheets which are submitted to their manager every month and managed in spreadsheets. When you’re dealing with the staffing numbers that we’re dealing with, that wasn’t very effective or efficient.”

Complex leave management

The CIS operates a sick leave policy that is loosely based on the Public Sector model with allocations of fully paid, partly paid and unpaid sick days as well as policies related to long-term sick leave.

“We operate quite a complex sick leave arrangement that’s loosely based on the public sector model and found that tracking this and other types of leave became more complex as the organisation got bigger. We needed a system to manage this for us.”

HR administration

The company also wanted to be able to manage HR files and administration centrally and more efficiently.

“Each region has a Regional Office which is essentially an administrative hub, as well as several local offices and employees who work remotely. We wanted to make it easier to administer HR. Previously if a file was needed it had to be scanned and sent via email. We wanted to have HR documents online and all in one place.”

The Solution

After a competitive tender process, the cloud-based version of Softworks Workforce Management Solution was selected as the suitable solution with the following modules:

  • Time and Attendance
  • Clocking
  • Flexitime management
  • HR Management
  • Employee Self-Service
  • Absence management

Project rollout

Each of the 8 regional service delivery companies is a stand-alone legal entity but operates identically in terms of policies and procedures. A Project Manager was appointed on behalf of the 8 companies, and he worked closely with the Softworks Project Manager to capture business rules and requirements for the system.

The approach was to create a fully functioning system for 1 of the regional offices which could then be copied and rolled out to 7 remaining offices.

Once the system was configured to an advanced level, the company brought together regional managers and administrators for a series of online training workshops led by the Softworks training team. The sessions were also recorded for future use.

“As we were going through the training sessions we were able to resolve anything that wasn’t working 100% for us which was really helpful.”
“There was real enthusiasm from the Managers because they could see the benefits of the system straight away.”

The Result

Simplified employee administration

Each regional service delivery company has multiple locations with a mix of office-based and remote workers and full and part-time employees.

Before Softworks was rolled out, the organisation used shared spreadsheets to manage processes like time in lieu and annual leave. Managers had to spend time following up with employees to ensure time in lieu was up to date or that they had submitted their timesheets. Now working time, leave requests, approvals and balances are managed in the Softworks system; this is no longer necessary.

“Previously managers would have had to chase staff to ensure that sheets were submitted or that their time in lieu was up to date. Softworks has streamlined everything for us into one place. It makes managers’ and administrators’ jobs easier.”

Flexible HR reporting

The Softworks system has a suite of reports which can be configured to suit an individual organisation’s requirements making HR reporting a less time-consuming task.

“I think the reporting functionality is excellent, it’s so flexible that we can pull whatever information we need. I regularly report on metrics such as the number of employees, pay scales, time in lieu hours, length of service etc. and I used to have to pull that information manually. I recently ran some reports, and it only took 30 minutes, straight away it was saving me time.”

Time in lieu made easier

Employees can earn time in lieu for additional hours worked. Previously this was recorded on spreadsheets which meant it wasn’t always possible for employees to get an immediate overview of how many hours they had banked. This information will now be easily available in the Softworks system.

“Employees can build up time in lieu for over hours worked. One of the biggest benefits employees will see is the ease with which they can see and use their time in lieu.”

Future plans


Flexible employee self-service

The CIS plans to roll out Softworks Employee Self-Service App to allow employees to request annual leave and view leave and flexitime balances on their smartphone or PC.

“Some employees have company phones, and they will have employee self-service on their mobiles. Others will use it on their PCs with the option to download it to their mobile devices if they wish.”

Improved accuracy

Management is also looking forward to the enhanced accuracy a single system for HR will bring to the organisation.

“The fewer interventions you have the more consistent the information is. If the information has to be put into three separate places there is a chance an error could occur whereas if it’s put into one place and reported on in that same place, there’s no room for error. We’re expecting benefits because of this.”

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