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  • Writer's pictureMartin Hesse

Manual workarounds: Avoiding them alongside your workforce management system

‘That’s how we’ve always done it’. The dreaded words you often hear in business, but wish was never spoken. Short-cuts and tweaks on repetitive tasks can appear to lighten your load or make things move more quickly, but they can lead to big issues down the road.

Here are some of the reasons why you should avoid manual work arounds in with your workforce management system when it comes to award interpretation.

Missing award updates

Industry awards are updated from time to time and these updates can lead to alterations in pay calculations and conditions. If business processes rely on manual workarounds, there is added complexity, risk and potentially double handling when it comes to implementing these changes.

Archiving and historical data retrieval

There are several instances where historical payroll data may be required, along with detailed explanations for how calculations were done. Making sense of data that has been altered through manual workarounds can be incredibly frustrating, time consuming and in some cases impossible. The same goes for providing suitable explanations. This is made even more difficult if the people who did this work during those pay cycles are no longer with the business.

Employees move on, along with their knowledge

Manual workarounds lead to a select few team members knowing and understanding the processes needed to run critical business systems. Employees leave organisations, and when that happens, their knowledge goes with them. Handover and training of new employees becomes more onerous and frankly, less enjoyable. It's also harder to guarantee that new employees have received the right training to handle your unique circumstances.

Double handling

Rosters and timesheets may require editing and updating for various reasons. Having to further intervene by way of manual award interpretation calculations adds a layer of risk in terms of human error, resourcing and accountability.

If the manual editing of calculated transactions is completed down the line in your payroll system, you may also end up with a misalignment of data across WFM and payroll systems.

Breaching Industry Award or Enterprise Agreement conditions

Whilst it is possible to achieve a certain level of accuracy and completeness using manual systems, volume quickly becomes a physical barrier when it comes to larger head counts. A fit-for-purpose workforce management system with strong award interpretation capabilities is not limited by volumes of transactions or employee headcount and maximises your chances of remaining fully compliant.

How do manual work arounds come about?

Manual workarounds are a byproduct of both software and human limitations.

If you’re sold a software solution that doesn’t have the functionality that you need to comply with your award or enterprise agreement, you’ll be forced to find “creative” ways to solve that problem. The risk of that solution being error prone is immense, as awards can be notoriously complicated, and many calculations are simply too complex for third party offerings like Excel or in-house tools. This likelihood of requiring manual workarounds increases even further the higher your headcount is.

The silver lining for software induced manual workarounds is that there are workforce management software vendors like Rosterspace, who have developed an award interpretation tool developed specifically to handle Australian industry awards and Enterprise Agreements. While it may require an internal business case, some time and money transitioning to an appropriate system will ensure your resulting rostering, timesheet and payroll calculations are compliant. Furthermore, during a Rosterspace implementation, you’ll be able to check historical pay cycles and validate whether any errors occurred due to manual processing.

Human-centric manual workarounds usually stem from compromised or rushed system implementations, or from individuals or teams not wanting to deviate from "old ways”. Without the right level of trust in new systems, it can be difficult for the organisation to let go of deeply ingrained manual processes, particularly when those new systems aren’t fully understood.

Training is paramount in this case. This includes in-depth training on the workforce management system whilst it’s being implemented, as well as access to ongoing refresher training for new team members who join the organisation. Furthermore, the training needs to be tailored for users across different roles in the organisation. A retail 2IC will use the system very differently to how a payroll administrator would. The more familiar users are with the system prior to go-live, the more likely they are to see the benefits upfront and support the transition rather than resist it.

It’s also important to note that the uptake and familiarisation process for a new system can vary by department and individual user, so a realistic implementation timeframe is necessary for all to be onboard.

Rosterspace is an Australian workforce management software made for advance award interpretation. To find out more head to

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a manual workaround in the workplace?

A manual workaround is used as a reasonable alternative to the standard automated methods as a means of producing a specific outcome.

Why should your company use manual workarounds in the workplace?

Companies may use manual workarounds in the workplace due to issues such as system limitations, unavailability of automated solutions, or lack of resources to implement a permanent solution. Manual workarounds can also be used as a stop-gap measure until a permanent solution can be found or implemented.

How can manual workarounds be improved in the workplace?

Manual workarounds can be improved in the workplace by implementing automation solutions that address the underlying problem or limitation. Additionally, companies can improve their manual workarounds by creating clear and concise processes, training employees on the manual workaround, and continuously monitoring and improving the process.


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