Director of Administrative Services

Debra Ervin


Not for Profit


Florida, USA



Modernizing A State Agency’s HR Into the 21st Century


A statewide agency in Florida, Florida Guardian ad Litem was created in 2004 to represent children in the Florida juvenile court system who have been abused or neglected. Florida Guardian ad Litem’s staff, comprised of attorneys and social workers, gives children a voice as they advise the court on what action is in the best interest of the child. By getting to know the children and their circumstances, the staff can then make recommendations to the court as to whether the child can safely live with their parent(s) if the child should be removed from the home to live with another caregiver, or if the home is not safe and cannot become safe through the provision of support services if the child should become free for adoptions. Florida Guardian Ad Litem serves in excess of 25,000 children across the state of Florida at any given time.


In 2016, Florida Guardian ad Litem faced a plethora of challenges in employee timekeeping and leave management. They were operating with a legacy system built in-house when the agency was created in 2004, which featured outdated computer language and numerous limitations.

Faced with the news that their archaic and limited system was soon to be obsolete and would no longer be supported by their data center, they were forced to find a new HR solution that met their needs. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as their new OrangeHRM software revolutionized their business.


  “We needed a system that had the functionality to give us the ability to manage our employees much more specifically. At the same time, we also needed a system that would engage our supervisors, give them accountability, and allow them to manage their employees’ leave and attendance.”

Specific Challenges Facing Florida Guardian Ad Litem

  • Their current system operated by exception, so individual employees couldn’t record the actual hours they worked, only the hours of leave they took.
  • The outdated system only aggregated the individual’s attendance and leave on a monthly basis, so managers were unable to get a holistic accounting of an employee’s hours until the end of the month, which led to overpayments and scheduling holes that couldn’t be anticipated.
  • Supervisors were not engaged in approving their employees’ leave and attendance, and time sheets were only checked once a month.
  • Managing complex federal US wage and hour laws, state requirements, and internal requirements, as well as keeping track of employees with varying levels of benefits, was time-consuming and stressful, as mistakes carry harsh penalties, not to mention the threat of lawsuits, which every agency dreads because of the time and cost associated with non-compliance of these laws.
  • Employee recordkeeping was haphazard and time-consuming, with notes regarding employee absences kept on calendars, in emails, and on scraps of paper. They needed an efficient, comprehensive system with all data in one place, with the capability to pull customized reports to fit a variety of situations.
  • As an agency that serves children, Florida Guardian ad Litem prefers to put their resources in the field in order to make the biggest possible impact. With only two HR managers and three IT employees to manage the needs of an agency with a $52 million budget and more than 750 employees around the state, they needed a solution that allowed them to do things smarter and faster with a modest staff.

The  IT department conducted an extensive survey of products on the market, hoping to find something on the shelf that met their needs. However, with so many complexities to deal with, they realized they needed a product that could be customized to meet their individual needs. After numerous conversations with OrangeHRM’s reps about the nuances of their organization and its requirements, they determined that OrangeHRM offered the optimum human resource solution to meet the unique challenges they faced.


With OrangeHRM’s software solutions, Florida Guardian ad Litem has revolutionized their HR operations with a modernized, efficient, and customized solution that fits their unique needs. With a streamlined process for tracking employee time and leave, they now have the insight and data to operate more effectively as well as monitor, engage, and manage their workforce for increased productivity.


  • Supervisors and employees are now engaged and accountable for their timekeeping
  • Accurate employee timekeeping Real-time overview of employee time
  • Customizable reports for a variety of situations
  • An efficient system to manage the hours of employees across the state Reduction in errors
  • Increased productivity
  • An invaluable and seamless working relationship with OrangeHRM

A More Disciplined Approach to Leave and Absence

By deploying OrangeHRM's Leave and Attendance Module, supervisors have become more engaged in managing their employees’ leave and attendance, and employees are accountable for their time. “That was a goal we had at the onset, and we have achieved that,” says Debra Ervin.

Thanks to the functionality of OrangeHRM’s module, supervisors must now approve every aspect of their employees’ time and leave, which requires them to stay on top of what their employees are doing, their work habits, and the amount of work they are putting in.

Conversely, each individual employee must now take action in order to have their leave approved in advance, allowing HR to anticipate workforce needs prior to employees being off for vacation. Because the new system requires employees to report their hours, HR can monitor employees’ work habits and deal with issues as they come up.

A Real-Time System to Track and Tackle Issues with Employees 

Now, instead of waiting until the end of the month to detect issues, Florida Guardian ad Litem is able to manage problems as they arise. Because the reporting is in real-time, they can see red flags sooner and intervene immediately if there are issues that need to be addressed.


No more notes scattered about the office or time wasted compiling reports. With an efficient system to keep track of data and easily accessible reports that can be customized any number of ways, depending on the need, supervisors save time, which means they can work smarter and faster—and devote more resources to the children they serve.


“The improvements have been impressive.” 

With internet access to their leave and attendance system, employees and management can now log in remotely to the leave and attendance system, which has been invaluable during mandatory remote operation as a result of the COVID pandemic. “This has been an enormous help to us which we didn’t anticipate,” says Debra Ervin.

Increased Productivity

The ability to customize job history data has allowed Florida Guardian ad Litem to understand how their employees are using their time and use that information to increase workforce productivity.

The Ability to Track Employees by Location

Because they are an agency funded by the state, with OrangeHRM, they are now able to build a case—backed by data—to request additional funding from the state legislature as needed.

Customizable Reports

The ability for staff to pull data and customize reports on their own makes spotting errors easier for HR managers, which means problems can be addressed as they arise. In situations where action must be taken with an employee, they now have the data they need to make and support HR decisions.

Unparalleled Customer Service

No one in HR at Florida Guardian ad Litem had experience in designing a leave and attendance system, so they came into the project as beginners.

OrangeHRM’s phenomenal customer service representatives walked them through each step of the process, helping them understand how to build a system, assess their needs, and then test those needs against the product to come up with a system that worked and made sense for their organization. That partnership, which began in 2016, continues today and is one Debra Ervin finds invaluable.

 “We’ve finally moved into the 21st century with our timekeeping system.”