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Driving people performance through technology

Posted on by from Changeboard

Powys County Council has been using MidlandHR’s iTrent software since 2008. Mary Appleton asks head of human resources Karen Williams how it has impacted the organisation.

How has this software helped your team?

It has allowed us to focus less on administrative support and more on developing strategies that optimise the workforce. It also drives organisational performance, by improving processes and the quality of data. And with an overall time saving of 37% we estimate a £116,572 reduction in costs.

We are now better able to understand existing workforce skills and capabilities, which helps in identifying training opportunities. Service managers are empowered to plan and develop resources, using the tools and knowledge to make informed choices. We’ve been able to place the right people into the right roles at the right time and streamline our recruitment processes.

What challenges were you facing before?

We had a range of disparate HR data stores. This resulted in significant duplication of employee data and a lack of accuracy. Processes were paper based and consequently were slow and inefficient, with paper being photocopied and filed by all recipients. Managers had no direct access to employee data and faced difficulties in planning and developing resources in the most cost effective way.

Powys had limited ability to provide accurate information for both internal and external requirements. Collating data for returns, such as absence statistics, was time consuming and inaccurate. We had an online recruitment system, but it was not integrated and contained limited information about Powys as an employer. It was cumbersome, and candidates would often abandon applications mid-way through when the system failed to retain their information.

How did you prove the business case?

We identified key benefits and carried out a business process re-engineering exercise. This was followed by a cost analysis which showed how much money could be saved by implementing new software.

How did you go about researching a software provider?

We invited a number of suppliers to tender, and evaluated them against a detailed specification.

What challenges or setbacks did you come up against when sourcing and implementing it?

The only major challenge was the culture change within Powys and the move away from a complete reliance on admin support. Managers now initiate all HR related processes electronically and have the tools to facilitate them in managing their workforce.

What does your new software platform do?

We started using MidlandHR’s Trent in 2005, before migrating to the web-based version, iTrent, in 2008. It’s a completely integrated employee data store which includes Core HR, payroll, recruitment, web recruitment, absence, manager and employee self-service, health and safety, learning and development, dashboards, expenses, and performance management.

How has this helped you deliver your objectives?

It has been highly instrumental. While the organisation has undergone a culture change, it would not have been possible without the software.

Advice for other HRDs considering software?

Clearly outline a vision and understand where you want to be in three to five years’ time. From here, you can work backwards and implement modules and processes accordingly.

What would you do differently?

We would introduce the manager and employee self-service function earlier. It’s only once staff have access to the system that they understand the importance of keeping it up-to-date with all changes.

What ROI have you seen?

We’re on target to achieve our projected efficiency savings of £600,000 per annum by project completion . Over 3,000 employees are now accessing employee self-service for a range of activities including expense claims, e-slips, absence requests and training requests. This has also resulted in a significant reduction in paper, as all forms are now dealt with online.

What feedback have you had?

Overall, feedback indicates that the majority of people manager tasks and authorisations are easy to use and more efficient than previous paper-based processes and procedures.  They also like the improved management information and access to tools to drive strategic decision making.

What are the future plans for Powys Council?

We are undertaking a human capital management project which includes the following areas, all of which will be recorded and accessed via the system:

  • Performance appraisal life cycles for all employees
  • Identification of skills, competencies, membership and qualifications required for each position
  • Skills audit for employees
  • Utilisation of match and gap to assist in development plans, succession planning and training programme.
Mary Appleton

By Mary Appleton


Mary is Changeboard's editor in chief.



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