CASCADE TV > Everton Football Club’s journey to become an “HR Dream Team”
So, Everton Football Club was originally founded in 1878 as Saint Domingo’s FC. We changed our name a year later when we started looking for players outside of Saint Domingo’s parish, therefore we became Everton. We’re one of the founder members of the football league, along with the twelve other founding members. We’ve helped really shape what football looks like today. We’re the first club to spend over 100 seasons in top-flight football and we currently play both in the Premier League and this year we’ll be in the Europa league. Our ‘firsts’are something that we’re proud of as a club, and i’ll just touch upon what some of them are, so we are the first club to have a purpose built stadium. We’re the first club to have numbers on the back on our shirts, first club to have a match day programme, the first club to award medals for winning a game, also the first club to do things like podcasts, and our own social networking site. So as you can see we are quite an entrepreneurial business and we are contiuning to look at ways we can be nothing but the best. And here’s just a couple of pictures that signifies the changes from Saint Domingo’s to where we are today.
(Claire Archibald – HR Manager) OK so, Everton Football club is a lot more that just what happens on the pitch. That’s what most people get to know about, is the eleven players that turn up on a Saturday. But our business is so much more complicated than that. For first off, we are Everton Football Club, Group of Companies. So we’re made up of five individual areas of the business, which makes us complicated to manage. We’ve got Everton Football Club itself, which is our first team, our academy, our operations team, our commerical teams. We’ve got Everton in the Community, our award winning registered charity, one of the biggest sporting charities in the UK. it gets involved in some really really interesting, dynamic charity work – Mental health, disability coaching, we work with young offenders who are coming out of institutions and getting them back into work, education and training. We’ve got Everton Ladies, our semi-professional women’s team. A small club, growing, and trust us ladies football is growing as well. Everton Lottery, work with Everton In The Community to fundraise. These are the guys that sell scratch cards and things on a match day. And then we’ve got Everton Free School. We were the first Premier League club to open up a free school in September 2012, providing education to 14 – 19 year olds, alternative education for those individuals who struggle in mainstream education. We’ve got 320 permanent staff in total with over 1000 casual workers as well. And our first team on top of that, so lots of different people, lots of different contracts makes things very lively on a day to day basis. It’s not just all about the football for us. We’re a really diverse organisation, getting involved in lots of different things across Merseyside.
(Rachael Jones – HR Officer) So Claire’s briefly touched upon it, but really to give you an idea on how we, as an HR Team operate, we wanted to share with you what our business actually looks like. So we’ve got a Chief Executive at the top it’s Robert Elsdon, and then we’ve got all the key departments that sit underneath. So we got our commercial area of the business and that’s corporate sales, sponsorships, partnerships and find centre that manage all of our tickets sales for fans.
We’re got operations and finance which is more core business functions, so HR, IT, but also things like stadium operations and stadium maintenance – making sure the stadium is ready for our biggest day. We’ve got our football team, so first team staff, we’ve also got football operations and the pitch. Everton Ladies – who Clare’s touched upon and also our academy, which is based at Finch Farm. We’ve got our marketing, media and communications teams, who really look at fan engagement, so whether that be press, publications Everton TV, social networking. And then finally Everton in the Community, with also the charity, lottery and Everton Free School in there as well.
So what do we look like as a HR Team? Now we are a really small team and we cover the whole of the Club, so our work is really broad and diverse so one day we may be dealing with recruitment, the next day it may be pension auto enrolment, payroll, performance management. So there’s a huge amount of stuff that we’re juggling at any one time. So when we were looking for a HR system, it was really important for us that we had something that could help us seamlessly run our processes in the right way. Make it much more efficient, and give us much more time to focus on that are going to add value back into the business and take some of the admin out of the processes that we do.
(Claire Archibald – HR Manager) Ok, so getting down to the nitty-gritty then. Why did we need a HR information system? Well four years ago we were using excel spreadsheets, to manage 250 members of staff plus casual workers, we have members of staff coming into the business, who we didn’t know who they were. We had lots of different information all over the place. Lots of different people responsible for it. Our business was changing very rapidly so we became the organisation we are today, but we needed something that was going to really help and support us. Increased number of staff, our charity was growing rapidly, getting involved in lots more projects, and lots of different types of contracts – we’ve got permanent staff, people on fixed term contracts, zero hours contracts, temp workers, the whole lot. From an HR administration point of view we were very transactional. We really wanted to get away from being involved in self cert. forms and recruitment authorisation forms. We wanted to be able to add more value to the business, and we knew, we’re a very talented team, we wanted to get out there in the business and do more. We also wanted to do more with the data we had, we got lots of information about our staff, who they are, we just didn’t have access to it at the time. We had hard copy personnel files, we had information in Payroll, information all over the place, we wanted a system that was going to bring it all together. And also in terms of recruitment, we wanted to be able to offer recruitment to our candidates that was slick, that was doing justice to our brand, and they were really identifying key talent to bring into the business. making it an attractive proposition, and part of that was having a system that could deal with the candidate experience as well.
So, we decided that we wanted a HR information system, we wanted to make sure that we got it right from the very beginning. We didn’t have a lot of time to allocate to actually doing this, the more time that we spent out of the business not doing HR and not being visible in the business, the more danger it was going to have on our reputation. So we gave ourselves a very strict deadline and gave ourselves a very strict strategy for what we going to work. We identified how we were going to set up the project, went through the tender process, we met the providers, we sought references, we went through the data transfer experience, we trained the HR team, we worked on a communication engagement plan and we set about training the business.
We gave ourselves round about 8 months to deliver all of this. And we nailed it in terms of time management, but we had to be really strict.
What I am going to do it talk about a little bit to do with each of these elements of the journey, just to really help you out, if you are at that stage where you want a self service system. You’ve not been through the journey before and hopefully this will help you.
Ok, so at the very beginning, we needed to think about who was going to be involved in identifying and supporting the journey into bringing the software system on board. I was nominated as the project lead. I identified the people I needed to work with. But the majority of it was done by me. And I had to manage a HR role at the same time as doing this as well. We didn’t have individual resource that we brought in to manage this project. We had very strict timescales, we had 8 months that we gave ourselves to deliver this to make sure that we kept on target, and we kept the momentum going to bring it in.
And we came up with our wish list. What did we want the system to do? and that was the very bare bones of what we were starting off from. So we came up with a big list of all the amazing things that we wanted the system to do, and then we became realistic about what we could actually do, and what we could actually afford based on some research. But that was our starting point – Exactly what we needed the system to do.
To go through the tender process we did a lot of research, there is a lot of providers out there that you are obviously aware of today. All offering very different things and going to be very different for your organisation. So we did a lot of research to know what was going to be right for us and we we started with long list of ten organisations that we wanted to learn more about. We put together a tender document, a copy of which should be on the USB sticks that you have got in your packs, and this basically made the software providers do some work for us, do some running around. We had a whole piece of information that we wanted to get from them, such as general functionality of the system, what does it do – bare bones? What are the costs involved, so, is it going to be a one off cost for the module? is there going to be ongoing costs? Is there costs per module? Is there costs for cloud based or hosted services? all of those kind of things. What were there reference sites? what are the organisations that they used as their ‘shouting point’ for their organisation, that would be matched with our organisation.
We wanted to know about the system, so this is where some of the IT bits come in, we worked with IT team to know what is going to be the best system that our organisation will work with. We wanted the system provider to let us know what the architecture of their system was, what’s the language that it was built in.
We wanted to know more about the organisation themselves, so what was their size, what was the scope of activity, were they a big company, they just had lots of little operations that dealt with HR, was their core focus Payroll or was it HR? for us we wanted someone who was focused on HR not just on Payroll. That was the reason why we were bringing it in, was to help from the HR side of things.
We wanted to know intricate details about the company, we wanted to know what was their strategy, what was their way forward and their road map for progression, do they have an eye on the market of what kind of things were happening in HR at the time, things that were really going to impact the system and the way we used it.
What’s the help desk like? how much support can they give you as an organisation? we’re 24/7 we work on match days, we wanted to have an organisation that could support us on days that were non business working days. We wanted to be able to have an organisation that worked very closely with us in terms of any issues that were occurring.
We wanted to know about financial accounts from a due diligence point of view, we needed to make sure that the organisation was financially sound.
A commitment to quality, training and development was also really important for us. We’re an organisation which is committed to our employees. We want to work and partner with other organisations that have that same commitment.
What’s the environmental impact of their trading? are they ethical traders as well? this is all part of the due diligence process.
And finally we gave them information about us, so background to the club, background to the team. We wanted to give them as much information about us so that they could give us an accurate cost and representation of their organisation.
We brought all the results together from the tender process into a ‘super-duper’ spreadsheet, which basically bench marked all of the scores that we gave to each of the organisation against each other. Based on those scores, we created a shortlist of 5 organisations that we then asked to come in and meet with us.
We asked the organisations to do a practical demonstration, we wanted to know exactly what the system was like when it was actually in front of us. We wanted to have a go ourselves. We wanted to know how easy it was to transition from one part of the system to another. We gave each of the providers a very structured brief in terms of what we wanted to see from them. So we wanted them to go over recruitment, we wanted them to add a new started onto the system, we wanted them to show what their workflow processes were like – the tasks and the automatic reminders.
We had a panel of decision makers. So it was HR and IT working together to make sure we were getting the right provider.
One of the most important aspects for us was seeking references, was to actually go to other organisations who have that system at the moment and ask them what their experience was like about using the system. There were a number of other premier league clubs that currently use our provider Cascade. So we were able to go to them and ask for their experiences of them using the system and get the inside scoop. Asking as many questions is what its all about.
We wanted to also talk to other organisations that were of a similar size, make-up to us, were going to using some of the similar modules so we were comparing like for like. Our network of HR colleagues were also a completely invaluable resource. Everyone has got lots of different providers out there, we wanted to speak to the people who know it best.
And so the winner was, after all the process, was Cascade HR.
So once we’d identified the provider we worked very closely with Cascade in terms of basically getting the system working and live. Cascade gave us a dedicated project manager, who helped us through the entire process. We had a very strict timeframe, from getting the information ready for data transfer and actually getting it into the system. Cascade provided us with a data template and we pulled together all of the information into this spreadsheet basically, that was going to import the information directly into the system.
We had a lot of information all on hard copy, we had hard copy personnel files, we had information in payroll, one of the big things for us was to bring all that information together and we spent a lot of time making sure that information was right, right from the beginning. We actually made the decision at that point to ‘electronise’ all of our HR processes, so the hard copy personnel files went. We went electronic with everything. We went through a huge two week process of scanning all of the information. So once had got all the data together, we could actually attach some of the information, so for example contracts, salary letters, all of those kind of things, could also go into the system as well.
Right information in, right information out. It was so crucial, it was the most crucial part of the whole process, in terms of making sure your information is accurate, it’s representative, you’ve got historical data. All of that information is going to give you reports out as well. So you need to make sure in terms of planning your resource, that’s one of the biggest time frames you need to think about.
The data transfer process took two weeks for us in terms of putting all the information together. And we did it on a completely full time basis in order to try to get it all in. It was a day later, we had all the data in the system and we received our training from Cascade. The whole of the HR team was trained on how to use it. Everyone needed to know and no matter what kind of things that they were going to get involved in on a daily basis. They needed to have a basic grasp of the system.
Cascade provided us with two full days training and we actually developed and built the system together. So there were things about some of our processes we needed to have ready and we actually built at that point when we had the system in so, what our absence process would look like, what our holiday process would look like and we built that and made sure the system replicated those things.
You need to go back to the initial brief in terms of what you actually wanted from the system in the first place. It could be six months, it could be two weeks from when you actually went through the tender process. So we needed to go back and revisit our wish list in terms of what we wanted and what we wanted the system to do. To make sure the training was replicating what we actually wanted in the first place.
We purchased a system with a view to it being self service. We wanted the business to actually be engaged with this system. We wanted individuals across the business to be able to do some of the processes themselves. Have access to the information themselves as well. So we developed a communication and engagement plan in terms of developing and releasing Cascade to the business. First of all we needed to create a message for the system. Why was it important for our employees to have this,? What was the reason for doing it in the first place? and the biggest reason for us was it was going to change the way that they were going to do business. We were going to remove all the paper based processes that they didn’t like and we had feedback that didn’t work for them, sometimes it didn’t get done. We renamed the system ‘ Everton People’, we gave it an identity, it became part of the conversation, it became something that people could say “I’ll check that on ‘Everton People’ “, actually it’s got it’s own nickname now it’s called EP, which is brilliant.
We launched an initial announcement to the management team to let them know exactly what we were doing, why we were doing it. Why it was going to be so important for them to be engaged with it and for their teams to be engaged with it as well.
We came up with a raft of stories that were going to be on the intranet, talking about different pieces of functionality with the system. Booking holidays, recruitment for managers, changing the personal details. Individual stories and snapshots to get people’s anticipation. We also filmed a tutorial video to go on the intranet. Talking people through the system, so that they knew and they could see for themselves that it was a really easy system to use. And we also developed training sessions for all of the staff members. So every single member of our permanent staff received a training session on how to use Cascade.
The system for us was one of the reasons why we purchased, was because it was so easy to use, and actually we didn’t need to train the business, but for us we wanted to engage with the staff and make them understand why it’s important for us, why it would be important for them and really get that message across to them. So we developed a phased approach for training. We identified some core departments where we were going to release it first. And then over a 12 month period, we started to release it to other departments.
We made sure that the system sessions were fun and interactive for our staff. It wasn’t just another training session that they were going to. It was also really an opportunity for them to meet HR as well and work out what we were doing and what we were all about. Why this was so exciting for us.
We also produced a training manual, that they could take away with them. It gave them all the information that they needed. And we also created a knowledge base on the Intranet as well. Another place where they could get information answer questions and that type of thing.
(Rachael Jones – HR Officer) As Claire’s briefly touched upon, we have launched employee self service to all of our employees. It’s fully embedded, everyone calls it ‘Everton People’ and we didn’t really feel that we would talk you through it we thought its much better for you to hear some of the words from some of our colleagues and how they best use the system.
(Everton People) Hi My name’s Michelle Garner-Watt and I work at Everton Football Club at the Fan Centre as Team Leader. I have pool of 40 casual staff and I recruit about 3 to 4 times a year. I use Everton People for that and find it really useful and user friendly, especially in shortlisting.
Hi I’m Katie West, I’m an apprentice here at Everton. I use Everton People to request holidays, but also to look at my learner comments from my manager, which helps me to development my skills and abilities.
Mike Salla, Health and Wellbeing Manager here at Everton in the Community, I currently head up the Health and Wellbeing pillar, which means managing four full time members of staff and several casual members of staff. I find Everton People a very useful tool to help keeping track of holidays and also to store files on the system.
(Rachael Jones – HR Officer) OK, so Claire’s touch upon it a little bit earlier, but data is a huge reason why we wanted to look at a HR information system. And really look at what type of different data we can draw out.
Previously it was quite difficult to get all the information in one place. It was in hard copy, we struggled to pull any meaningful data from anywhere. So it was really about can we demystify the data and look at really what we’ve got. Everton People really supports us with being able to run a variety of different reports. So there is a system called Query Builder in as part of the tool, its a really user friendly part of the reporting system. You can pretty much create a report from scratch. I’e not had a huge amount of training on the system and it’s just really user friendly, you can use it yourself.
Analysis and trends statistics was something that was really important for us. With the system you can build and create it to what you want the system to do. So a recent example of this is – we run an exit interview process within the club, it’s a conversation with the leaver, we’ll fill it in on a paper based form and we’ll struggle to really draw more data for reasons for leaving, turnover rates, what did that look like. So we created a screen within Everton People to hold this information electronically. We can now report on it, pull different data from it. So we can now analyse things like, reasons for leaving, line manager relationships, salary and benefits and also what people thought of the on-boarding process, so it allows us to look much more at ‘what are the trends’ from turnover, how can we look at keeping and retaining some of the key talent that we’ve got with the Club.
Internal task management, there’s a huge part of the system that works around workflows. Which gives reminders, and I suppose tasks for line managers. They key was that we use it is with probation reviews, so all of our employees are on six month probations, they get a review at month one, month three and month six. So there employment is quite an admin heavy task to send reminders out via email and remember that as a HR team when we’ve got 320 permanent members of staff. The Cascade system was really helped by putting in a more automatic way. A reminder will go to the line manager at month one, month three and month six attaching all the forms so they’ve got everything they need at the touch of a button to complete their review form with their employee. But also sends a reminder through to us, the HR team, so we know where everyone is up to at what stage of the process they are at.
Access for Line Managers, all line managers will have access to their full team via the system, so they can look at holidays, look at holiday requests, they can also pull reports from the system, sickable absence reports on their team, they can pull birthday reports, they can also add on electronic files, as Mike Salla, touched upon – one of the employees, it’s really useful for them storing their electronic files, They also come through to us as a HR team, so if a lines manager has a comment about a conversion with a member of their team, they want to make a note of it, they add it onto Everton People. That then comes directly through to us in the HR team, it means we can be much more proactive. Looking at any concerns or issues that arise anywhere around the club.
This chart just gives you a bit of an idea about how we’ve moved forward with our data and some of the key things that we use Cascade for, so a key chunk of it is the reporting. and really be able to give us a true picture of what the club likes at any one time. We now have monthly reports that come through, we previously didn’t have these – it covers things like headcount, starters, leavers, absence, changes in terms and conditions. It just means we’ve got a real true picture of what’s happening, and it’s an automated report so it comes through on a monthly basis.
Managing Casual Workers – In the very first screen, Claire touched upon that we’ve got 320 permanent employees, but taking into account some of our match day working, we’ve got 1,000 casual workers. Now that may well be supporting us within our Fan Centre, it may be supporting us at the Academy, or in our Everton in the Community on coaching sessions. So when we were looking for the system, it was really key for us to look at a way that we could manage all the different groups of employees that we’ve got, so line managers now have control of their full team, they can see all of the casual employees that sit underneath them. They can have access to everything so information about them as a person, but also how they sit within there against their permanent employees.
We’ve got a starter and leaver process so we know potentially when everyone started work but also when they ended with us. Timesheets is a new module that we have launched, it allows casual workers to go in, submit their timesheets, they then come back out, they go through to the line manager to approve. That then allows us to pull that off on our payroll runs after our payroll cut off. Its much more easier to do, previously there was a lot of different time sheets, that different departments used, whether it be the academies and different sheet for the fan centre. This is much more one system, one process, its just much more seamless, and it takes a big administrative task off us and allows us to focus on things that are really going to start adding something back to the business.
And finally individual support in different areas of the club at any one time, we might have a casual working within our academy, but also within Everton in the Community, as this allows us to really keep a track of who is where at what time.
Ok the dreaded pension automatic enrolment, we staged in October last year and one of the really complicated things for Everton Football Club was we’ve go lots of different groups, lots of different staging dates, lots of different people, we had lots of people that fit into all those different criteria’s in terms of who would be automatically enrolled.
When we initially purchased the system, automatic enrolment really wasn’t on the agenda at all, it wasn’t something we thought about when we were choosing the system but one of the things that we did think about was choosing a system that did have that eye on the market and was willing to produce things that would help us later on down the line.
Cascade were able to provide us with a pension auto enrolment module which we could add on to the system, it really helped us to basically group all of our data together, run the assessments that we needed to on a monthly basis, group all of those individuals into the various boxes that we needed to and use the self-service module of it to send out the letters, the communications, individuals can log into their Everton People account, look at their information, have they opted in, have they opted out? If they’ve opted out when are they going to be opted back in again, making that communication process really seamless.
For us it was a really daunting task, we we’re worried about how it was going to go, but having this support from our system really helped – kind of the nerves – in making sure that we were going to get it right.
We worked very closely with Cascade in terms of some of the legality’s of it and it really, really helped us to basically make sure we knew what we were doing. The relationship with our supplier was something that was really important for us, we wanted to make sure that we had a partner in our software provider – not just someone who turned up, gave us a system and walked away. It wanted to be someone that we could grow with, and we could talk things through. I’m forever talking about things that they could do or get involved in or could do better and they actually really listen to that which is fantastic. We have a dedicated account manager who is on hand to answer the question and queries that we have got by email, by phone.
There’s access to an online portal, so there is an online portal where you can go get information, FAQ’s – you can ask questions yourself, you can launch queries about something that’s maybe not right in the system.
The annual user groups are something which is really attractive for me, it’s an opportunity where I can go and be incredibly geeky with lots of other people that have got the system as well, we can talk about the things that are going right, different ways that we have done different workflows, things that Cascade are going to be getting involved in, in the future. We do work with a lot of other clients that do have Cascade, I have built workflows alongside other HR managers who also have Cascade, to basically make sure that were just not reinventing the wheel, if they’ve got a really fantastic workflow that I thinks going to work great for us, I will call them up and let’s sit down and let’s talk about this together!
They do onsite training using our own data, so they don’t use a dummy system, they use our own data to make sure that whatever were being trained on its real, it’s actually having an impact on our system right there and then.
And the helpdesk are incredibly responsive, they’re really knowledgeable, they know what they’re doing, they all know the system inside out. I have never kind of picked up the phone and spoken to someone who goes ‘I don’t even know what that means’ which is really useful for me.
Ok finally, what does our roadmap look like for the future, so as I mentioned earlier we are a really ambitious club and we are always looking at new ways that we can do things. So we’ve got a couple of things that we’ve got on our minds that we want to really use Cascade for, so we’ve just launched our timesheet module in June this year, increase the information through self-service, as employees really use the tool we want continue to give different functionality to them really, so the next sort of area that we will be looking at is opening up a pension screen for them to be able to go in, see what their contributions are and also be able to use the system to request whether they want to increase contributions, decrease contributions etc.
Day to day innovations – it’s really your tool to do what you want to with. You can make it, build it to what you need, so we continually do day to day innovations. So it most recently created a leaver workflow. This now means that every time we action a leaver through the system, automatic emails will go off to IT to cancel user accounts, they go off to our internal intranets to take them off the intranet, just means we’ve not got to remember every single step off an administration process and it just happens seamlessly.
Training development and performance management are key for us over the next 12 to 18 months and we will really be looking at how we can use Everton People and to get involved in that. One specific idea we’ve got is around training and development and opening up that window for employees to go in and request training via there. It will also mean then that information will be saved to their personal file, should we ever want to go back and look at peoples training history then we will have that there. And finally absence management, we track absence through the system, we can pull reports look at trends and statistics, but at the moment we still do paper return to works and self-certification forms so we’ll be looking at how we can use Everton People a bit more to get us out of some of those that are still paper processes.
Okay so what has the impact been for Everton then? Well for us we have our own virtual administrator in our system, it has absolutely its own roll in the organisation, it’s part of the language, it’s part of the conversation, it’s not just a tool that we’ve brought in that people might just log into now and again, it’s absolutely something that people use on a daily basis and for us we just want to increase and increase that engagement.
It’s really brought HR to the forefront of club operations, I think before we introduced the system people really thought that all we did was kind of mess around with paperwork, now we have shown and delivered a system that is important and useful for them and it’s also meaning out there in the business, developing some really exciting and innovative projects as well with them.
So in terms of you implementing your system then and kind of our final hints & tips. It’s really important for you to know that what you want this system to do for our organisation. Don’t be kind of lulled into the idea of being sold something that isn’t right, it’s not really what you started out with, having that to do list, your wish list is so important. Shop around, talk to as many people as you possibly can, ask as many questions as you can. There’s nothing wrong about going back to them and asking more questions, it absolutely has to be right. For some organisations this is going to be an absolutely huge investment for them. Create a plan for the tender process and the implementation and think about the resources and time scales right from the word go.
For us self-service was a massive part of this and for some people it won’t be it will just be something that’s going to help your HR processes, but for us it was really important to integrate the system into the organisation, give it an identity and make sure it is a key business tool that everyone is going to be using. And finally creating a relationship with your supplier, making sure that you actually want to work with, what are they like as people, are you actually going to get on with them, are they someone that you’re going to want to pick up the phone to and that is going to be basically the makings of the success of that system.
Thanks very much for taking the time to listen to our presentation, thank you!