Together Housing has experienced a significant change management journey since it was formed in 2011. But having restructured the leadership team, senior management team and then the entire organisation – before harmonising terms and conditions and conducting a group-wide job evaluation – the consolidation of technologies was perhaps the next logical step…
In summer 2014, the hard work of the MND Association was catapulted into the spotlight, when the Ice Bucket Challenge became a social media phenomenon. This craze didn’t just successfully raise £7m for the charity; it also heightened awareness of the organisation’s continuing focus on MND care, research and campaigning.
But in order to run the 160-strong business as efficiently as possible – to make the best use of every penny whilst progressively working to the future and ultimately finding a cure for MND – Head of HR Peter Reeve knew a new HR system was required.
MNDA’s existing HR Solution
Head of HR Peter Reeve identified that a new HR and payroll solution was required. The system that the MND Association was using at the time had limited proactivity and its reporting capabilities were virtually non-existent.
This had started to become a drain on morale and restricted the charity’s ability to proactively understand the current ‘shape’ of the business and its future prospects/ challenges.
The search for new integrated HR and payroll software began
With the project leads in place, the first task was to identify the current drivers for the software investment, whilst also thinking about the future objectives the solution would need to deliver.
This then formed the basis of a comprehensive invitation to tender document. This resource helped the charity clarify its exact requirements, before communicating these effectively to potential suppliers.
“In truth we probably did too much ground work – we laid out 20 pages of essential and desirable software functionality, so that our expectations were clearly laid out. Some vendors even
turned down the opportunity to pitch for the work because of this. But it was crucial that our expectations were well documented – we knew this would help us get the investment right, for the benefit of staff engagement and wider business success. That’s why we weren’t willing to leave any stone unturned.”
Confident that they had found the best-fit solution for the MND Association’s current needs and future requirements, Peter and Eve settled on core HR software with fully-integrated HMRC-recognised payroll software, plus self-service, workflow, auto-enrolment and training functionality, from Cascade HR.
Shepherd’s Bush Housing Group (SBHG) is an award- winning organisation with a portfolio of 5,000 homes. In order to build thriving communities in London, the Group has evolved to incorporate the housing association, providing tenants and leaseholders with good quality, secure housing, the Group’s maintenance arm ‘Domus’ and ‘Staying First’, the Group’s charity division.
To continually invest in London’s people and places, SBHG relies on the hard work and dedication of its 290-strong workforce. It is therefore crucial that these employees are remunerated accordingly.
However, such a diverse organisation naturally brings with it an array of job roles, employment patterns and salary structures. SBHG therefore sought a new supplier which was truly proficient in dealing with complex HR and Payroll requirements and could deliver the level of integration that the marketplace promises.
Initially implementing the Cascade’s award-winning HR software in 2011, SBHG’s payroll solution was introduced a further eight months down the line. Now Cascade manages SBHG’s complex payroll with ease. Whilst some employees are on a straightforward salary, elsewhere there are numerous variables for the bureau team to bear in mind.
Liverpool Mutual Homes (LMH) is a social landlord with a portfolio of over 15,000 properties throughout the city. The housing association, a registered charity, employs 330 members of staff. It operates alongside a 260-strong subsidiary company Housing Maintenance Solutions (HMS).
Set to invest almost £900 million on maintaining services and homes over the next 30 years, this is a committed, evolving organisation, which plans for the future.
It was evident that a new HR and payroll bureau solution was required to give LMH greater peace of mind surrounding the accurate and timely remuneration of staff. A more intuitive system would also empower managers and provide the HR team with the tools they needed to help proactively shape the business.
Since opening in 1990, Meadowhall has continued to show strong growth and deliver top commercial results. The entire site, including car parks, covers an area of 2,000 acres within Sheffield’s Lower Don Valley. Within Meadowhall, you can find over 270 stores, restaurants, fast food kiosks and an 11-screen Warner Village Cinema. Meadowhall is within a 60 minute drive time of a staggering 7,500,000 people – equivalent to 1 in 8 of the population of Great Britain. With extended trading hours, and around 300 employees, it is not surprising that the shopping centre seeks to create and implement quality IT systems in support of its HR activities.
Employing in excess of 300 employees over the site in many roles from cleaners to senior management, Meadowhall prides itself on its quality customer service. Over the years, Meadowhall has received numerous national and international awards for excellence in many areas. The organisation recognises that only motivated, trained and well-managed staff can achieve this quality service. For this reason, Meadowhall employs a human resource management team, which looks after everything from attendance through to appraisal and employee development. Meadowhall had a bespoke Microsoft Access management system in place, which the HR team found difficult to use, out of date and limiting in its ability to easily deliver information in the formats required.
Meadowhall had a series of demonstrations from potential suppliers, including Cascade. As an Investor in People, Meadowhall was looking for a complete HR system, with training functionality a key component. All the software systems held the same personnel details, but when it came to the training side, they found that other vendors did not even entertain the idea of a training module. It was only Cascade that could help.
After conducting an initial search, Meadowhall drew up a detailed ‘problem’ specification sheet and also a draft requirements criteria sheet. This included items such as watertight security, easily maintainable data, entry of equal opportunities information, absence entry, the set-up of training needs for each individual and an auto-reminder email to check everything had been established for training and meetings etc. The facility to print full data to comply with the Data Protection Act was also important, as individual employees made frequent requests for information.
All four core modules were purchased, consisting of Personnel, Training, Recruitment and the intranet.
Initially, Meadowhall piloted the intranet within the IT team but the personnel system ran from day one. Once any little issues had been ironed out, the intranet was rolled out operationally to one team at a time.
The implementation and training was adapted to Meadowhall’s requirements. The shopping centre had a lot of ongoing projects and so the training was delivered at various times to accommodate Meadowhall’s HR and organisational needs.
Sir George Monoux Sixth Form College was rated by Ofsted as Good with Outstanding features in October 2012 and ranked No. 2 in London for Sixth Form Colleges. The college currently has a total of 210 staff members including casual employees, and conducts exceptional training for the development of all.
The HR department is in charge of managing employee benefits, performance appraisals, training, recruiting and retention. Coordinating all of these different types of duties can be time and resource-consuming. Therefore, the decision was taken to invest in an integrated HR technology solution to streamline work processes. After conducting extensive research into which HR software system to choose, the college decided to proceed with Cascade.
Since introducing Cascade, employees only have to log in to one system to view their current personal information, payroll status, accrued holiday time, probation reports, training status, pension and retirement plan information. A one-stop HR software system, Cascade encompasses all employee information, which saves everyone across the company time and energy.
The advanced reporting functionality has given Sir George Monoux Sixth Form College the tools to better manage their HR processes.
With Cascade, Sir George Monoux Sixth Form College can now efficiently run reports on sickness, recruitment turnover, employee status, equal opportunity monitoring and more. The HR department is also able to compare employees’ salaries, as well as their overall reviews, to ensure everyone is getting paid fairly.
In addition, Cascade is extremely user friendly as it allows users to input new data and edit existing data with ease. It provides users with the opportunity to select from an array of pre-defined reports that may either be printed or displayed on a monitor.
Since the introduction to Cascade, the College has been able to increase employee service levels, making them more professional as an organisation. Employees are able to find personnel information in seconds instead of hours.
Rather than depending on their department heads or managers to take the initiative to help employees develop career progression plans, Cascade has given self-starters the power to take matters into their own hands and manage their personal development. Overall, Cascade has exceeded all expectations and importantly met the key areas that were set out from the project outset.
Havebury Housing Partnership is dedicated to the provision of good quality affordable homes and housing services across West Suffolk. The company manages over 6,000 homes and employs approximately 170 staff.
Prior to Cascade, Havebury operated separate HR & Payroll Software Systems. The two systems did not integrate and there was a huge amount of duplication of work, not to mention the possible scope for error when processing data.
Time recording was done by employees on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, set up each month by a member of the IT team. Annual leave and flexi-time was recorded on manual paper records.
Cascade’s software demonstrated a massive improvement for the HR & Payroll function and similarly for employees and their Line Managers through Self Service.
Whilst Cascade cost substantially more than some of the other software providers, the advanced functionality and service available to employees far outweighed the additional cost and made it an easy decision to make.
Having never had access to Self Service, Havebury knew that the investment would be well received. They could also see that the Workflow module would enable more proactive management and automation of previously administrative functions that were time consuming and resource heavy.
In addition, the improved functionality of report writing was eagerly awaited, particularly after the poor experience of the two previous software providers.
The implementation of Cascade’s HR & Payroll software was a hugely successful project.
Recently a review of all systems at Havebury Housing Partnership took place and Cascade achieved 97% satisfaction. There was no other in-house software that came close.
The employees adapted quickly to Self Service, as the system was notoriously easy to use for employees.
Similarly the software was really well received by managers who have controlled access to their teams and their relevant information be it annual leave, Bradford Factor score, reporting absence, checking time recording, or the need to contact next of kin. Having this information easily to hand has truly helped them.
Muckle LLP is a commercial law firm based in Newcastle upon Tyne. Specialisms include commercial, corporate finance, property, employment, dispute resolution, debt recovery, public sector and private client services. The company has approximately 130 people with a view to increasing that to approximately 200 over the coming 3-5 years.
The growth of the firm meant that there was an increasing requirement for a robust people information and reporting solution. So the investment in HR software and particularly self service would automate and improve processes to free up HR time to focus on HR development and project work.
The organisation Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance Company of Europe Limited (SJNKE) deals with non-life insurance. With approximately 150 members of staff across Europe, SJNKE’s European head office is based in London (EC2M).
Pre-Cascade SJNKE did not have a personnel information system. The most useful and accurate information was held either on a series of Excel spreadsheets or within paper-based personnel files.
Time and attendance was recorded via a biometric scanner, which was temperamental and very unreliable. SJNKE was also looking to implement a flexi-time system, which simply wouldn’t have worked with the previous setup.
As SJNKE had successfully rolled out Cascade HR within the London Head office, they looked into Cascade’s Timesheets module and were excited about the potential benefits that the company might receive.
During the initial stages, Cascade and SJNKE had the challenge of how to import the time and attendance data into their existing HR Software, as they wanted to use the current entry system. Working with the team at Cascade, they started to investigate the possibility of using the third party data clock load and have been delighted with the results. They have now been using this setup for over two years and it works perfectly. They also managed to include the flexi-time features on the timesheets, giving the company accurate information at the touch of a few buttons and allowing them to run reports and manage flexi-time with ease.
Historically, time and attendance data could only be viewed weekly. However, using Cascade’s Timesheets module, employees can view the data daily, anywhere, anytime, using Cascade’s .NET software. This provides managers with all the time and attendance data they could possibly require, for anyone in their team, at any time. Previously the data was entered manually into another system. This is now done automatically, which significantly reduces the amount of time spent by the HR department on time and attendance data entry.
SJNKE is extremely pleased with Cascade – it has allowed them to move away from the paper pushing exercises previously carried out. Information is readily available to all those who require it and valuable reports can be compiled as and when required. Various workflows also allow SJNKE to manage holidays, visas and absences. This is one happy client, who would be happy to recommend Cascade and the Timesheets module to other organisations.
In total, the hospice and children’s hospices employ about 152 paid staff and 577 volunteers who give their time freely to help deliver the care services. This is why it’s important for the HR department to show the same level of dedication to their employees.
Prior to Saint Andrews Hospice implementing the new HR Software, the procedures within the department were manual and time consuming, management information was difficult to collate and even simple data tasks were cumbersome to complete. There were concerns regarding the quality of the data that they had to work with and even when they produced reports they were not 100% confident with the accuracy of the information it represented.
As a hospice funded purely from community donations, spending a substantial amount of money on a new system was something that would have to be considered carefully. After much discussion about the benefits that could be realised, the board of directors were happy for a feasibility study to be undertaken, and thereafter commissioned the project to install the HR Software.
The hospices could see that the Workflow functionality would replace a majority of the manual checklists, and provide an automated backbone to the HR department to ensure that key tasks would not be missed by the team.
The Recruitment module offered the capability to create a structured and standardised process, through which both the volunteer and employee recruitment could take place. The client was impressed with how they could build up a detailed process with all the relevant recruitment documentation defined within it.
The report writer is a powerful and flexible tool within the product itself which would allow the creation of calculated fields with the addition of easy to use but highly effective graphing facilities.
Being able to modify key screens and also create new ones easily was a key requirement. Cascade’s HR software allowed St Andrews Hospice to do this simply and at the same time the process to upload data into new screens was very straightforward.
The level of security management within the product was very detailed but at the same time it was easy to administer. The hospices sought a product with this field level security .
Implementing the Cascade HR solution has greatly improved productivity in the HR department. The hospices continue to solve a number of problems and increase the use of the system across the organisation. They’re confident that Cascade HR will continue to develop in the future and over time further deliver the return on the investment made.
Cascade HR also enables the HR department to be more visible and proactive across the rest of the organisation, rather than it being a remote function “locked away” in a building.
HR Management System consolidation streamlines efficiencies and spurs satisfaction levels at Together Housing
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