We love documentation

Our spec before the editing starts...

Regular readers of this blog will know that for the last few months, we’ve been designing a new version of AnnualLeave.com for 2012. We’re really excited about it. We’re nearing the end of the design phase, and we’re almost finished the functional specification (all 690 pages of it! – It’ll hit 700 by the time we sign it off, no doubt).

As any developer will tell you, documentation is about as much fun as root canal surgery, however it’s a highly important and ultimately time-saving in the long run. A good rule of thumb is that 1 hour spent on documentation saves 10 hours of development time.

So, what’s going to be in the new version?  Well, all in good time.  We’ve got some fantastic features coming that we know you are going to love. We’re going to release details of all the new features in the coming weeks, along with screens-shots to whet your appetite.

So, even though we’re about the sign off the spec and let the development team loose to start coding, we’re still open for ideas and requests.  Drop us a line for anything you’d like to see in our employee absence planning system and we’ll do our best to incorporate it.

Having said that, with a spec that’s 690 pages, there’s a good chance it might already be in there!


Steve Jobs 1955 – 2011

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

It’s not often that the death of someone you never met moves you, but today I was genuinely saddened to hear that Steve Jobs has died. He was a true visionary and someone we look up to in the IT world and in the business world. He will be sadly missed.


Here’s Steve’s take on “How to live before you die”:


Join our customer panel!


We’ve got some really amazing plans for the 2012 version of AnnualLeave.com – all of which will be revealed here in good time.

In the office, we’ve been pinning up screen-shots, and filling whiteboards with mind maps and – my personal favourite – we each have an A3 sketch book where we doodle and scribble ideas at random when discussing ideas. There are screen-sketches, database designs, flowcharts and big scribbles through ideas that didn’t work out.

This is all very well but what we really want to do now is show all this people who can give us honest feedback and constructive criticism. We don’t want to go off chasing an idea that we think is cool, if nobody is going to use it. Likewise, if something is useful to a customer, we want to get it perfect.

We’ve decided to create a customer panel: up to 20 customers from different companies and countries who are willing to sign an NDA and then we’ll send them screens and presentations, we’ll have calls and on-line forums and they will have direct access to our product development team. The members of the panel can be involved to whatever extent they feel they want to.

In return for this, we’ll be offering their company AnnualLeave.com free for a year.

If you are full of great ideas and want to be on the panel, please email support@evolution.ie and we’ll get in touch.

We can’t guarantee that everyone will be accepted, and it’s not a first-come, first served process. We want to make sure all types of customer, across all regions are represented.

IBEC launches new report on absence levels at work


IBEC, the group that represents Irish business, today published the findings of a new report on absenteeism that found a total of 11 million days are lost to absence every year, costing business €1.5 billion or €818 per employee. While the report shows a reduced rate of absenteeism since the last  comprehensive survey in 2004, IBEC said there was significant scope to further reduce the rate. The report is based on data provided by 635 companies employing in excess of 110,000 employees. The survey was conducted in 2010 and based on full-year 2009 absentee levels.*

The report ‘Employee Absenteeism – A Guide to Managing Absence’ found that:

    • Employees missed 5.98 days on average, an absence rate of 2.58%, compared to 3.38% in the last comprehensive survey in 2004
    • Absence levels were higher in large organisations, 3.58% for companies employing over 500 employees, versus 2.17% for companies with less than 50 employees
    • The main cause of short-term absence cited for both males and females is minor illness
    • 4% of companies cited alcohol and alcohol-related illness as being a leading cause of short-term absence for males, while the figure is 1% for females.
    • Call centres recorded the highest absence rate at 3.67% while software companies had the lowest rate at 1.56%

Commenting on the findings IBEC director of policy Brendan Butler said: “The recession appears to have led to a reduced level of absenteeism, however it remains a serious social and economic issue. Besides its obvious impact on particular workplaces, absence affects the wider economy through loss of potential output and the increased spend on social security. While not all absence can be eliminated, there is significant room for improvement. Over a quarter of respondents indicated that it would be possible for them to reduce their absence rate further. 

“Problem absence is a significant direct cost to employers, as well as creating additional costs that are more difficult to quantify, such as the cost of reduced quality of output, increased pressure on colleagues and increased administration time in replacing absent employees. Pro-active measures by employers such as holding return to work interviews and putting in place employee health and well-being supports can help reduce absence.”

The IBEC Employee Absenteeism report is available for purchase at www.ibec.ie/research