With a growing, remote workforce, staying on top of staff leave has never been more vital. We spoke to industry-leading banking analytics platform BankBI about growing from a family embryo, becoming one of Leave Dates’ first customers, and how Leave Dates is helping them achieve remote working success and the all-important work-life balance
BankBI provides reporting software for banks, credit unions and microfinance institutions to monitor their financial performance.
Through a combination of experience and powerful cloud-based software, they help CFOs and finance teams transform raw data into relevant business insights that drive success.
“We are an extension of their IT and finance operations, we work closely with our clients to make sure they’re getting the reports they need,” says co-founder and operations director Simon Goble.
They now have more than 60 customers in over 40 countries who benefit from their software-as-a-service (SAAS) application. “We have customers in every continent of the world. But all of our employees are based in the UK so we’re kind of a digital exporter!”
Founded in 2013 by Simon and his father, CEO Graham Goble, along with brother Craig and one other co-founder, Keith Waterman, all with a wealth of experience in the financial services industry, BankBI has grown from a “family embryo”, says Simon, into a team of 17.
As the team grew, so too did the need to manage staff leave. When the company had around 5 employees, they used a physical wallchart on the office wall to manage leave. “We were using stickers and pens to manage leave. With 5 or 6 people it was messy but we could still just about manage things manually.”
But then the company started recruiting more developers to work on the software, and that team was remote. Of the 10 employees, 4 were remote, so they weren’t physically in the office to see the leave chart.
“The challenges began when we started hiring remotely – the wallchart became unusable for half the employees. That was when we needed to move to Leave Dates.”
“I talked with Phil, we signed up and started using it. We became one of its first customers.”
Implementing Leave Dates was simple: “It was really easy to set up. It was free for up to 5 users so we could try it out with a few employees first to see if it was going to work for our needs, and it did, and that was great. A full-blown enterprise-wide HR system would have been more costly but we wouldn’t have got the use out of it because we wouldn’t have needed all the functionality. Leave Dates was perfect for us at the right price point.”
At the end of 2019, the company took investment and grew to 17 employees within a few months.
“Leave Dates has become more and more valuable as we’ve gone from 10 employees to 17 because we’ve now got line managers who need the system to manage their employees.”
All employees use it: they book the leave they want, their line manager approves it and everyone is made aware of the time they’re taking off. “It’s great because as soon as it’s booked the manager gets a notification and can then check what they need to do around projects and provide cover whilst they’re off. You can get on top of what you need to do to prepare.”
Leave is now visible across the company. Unlike the physical wall chart, where it wasn’t clear whose leave was when, “on Leave Dates it’s very clear because you can see everyone on one screen” says Simon. “It makes it such a smooth process for people to see their own leave, what they’ve taken, what they’ve got left to take, but also to see other people’s leave, so if you’re working on a project with someone, you know when to book calls with clients and you can manage it around their leave. You can see it all, you’ve got full visibility of it online.”
As well as tracking annual leave and sick leave, they also use it to manage time off in lieu (TOIL): “Because we work with a number of US clients, if someone has had a number of meetings in the evening then we’ll give them half a day of TOIL to make up for it. They then have the flexibility to take some time off elsewhere. They like the fact that we recognise that and we can do it through Leave Dates.”
And Leave Dates has been invaluable since the coronavirus pandemic hit. BankBI’s head office is in Bracknell, but staff haven’t been there since March 2020; the time of the first lockdown and the work from home order.
“Coming into the pandemic, now we’re fully remote, so it’s been something that everyone uses to manage their leave. We’re also giving staff extra flexibility, recognising that holidays and plans have been disrupted and letting them roll over more leave than we usually would. We can manage all of that easily in Leave Dates.”
“An obligation we have is to make sure employees take the minimum statutory amount in a year so that’s another thing we can track, and make sure they do that, but also if they don’t use up their leave allowance they can roll over days from this year to next. You don’t have to recalculate at the end of the year, it automatically carries it over.”
“And when we hire people Leave Dates is great because it prorates the leave, so you don’t need to worry about calculating that if someone joins halfway through the calendar year. There are lots of cool features in there that we make use of.”
What’s the best thing about Leave Dates? “Ease of use. Functionally it’s rich – it covers everything that we need functionally – but it’s the ease of use that employees really appreciate – that they’ve got some professional software that keeps track of what they’ve taken, what they have remaining, so they can plan their time and their personal life and get their work-life balance right.”
Leave Dates’ customer service is very responsive, says Simon. “That’s something we appreciate too. If we have any questions, the Leave Dates team are always quick to respond and helpful.”
Using Leave Dates and automating their leave management has saved the company time and eliminated unproductive interactions: “Before, you’d be emailing “When are you off?”, “Are you still off here?”, so it’s removed all of that admin and communication overhead.”
Would Simon recommend Leave Dates? “Absolutely, yes. Definitely. The set-up is really simple so just sign up and give it a go. There’s nothing to lose, it offers under 5 users for free, so my advice would be to get on there, try it out, if you have any questions just ask customer service because they’re responsive and they’ll get you up and running. Give it a go.”
Just as BankBI’s cloud-based automated software fulfils its goal to “make your life easier”, so too does Leave Dates’, as Simon can vouch: “It has really made life easier.”