1st May 2018

Deciding whether your school or college needs HR software

In order to compete in today’s landscape of social and political change schools need to develop increasingly more agile and resourceful ways of working supported by the right talent and systems. Recruiting, developing, retaining and effectively remunerating your team has never been more important: decisions about how to best manage human resources and payroll in your school, academy or college are strategic ones.

“Being digital” is now the core of high-impact HR, and this means making HR transactions easier, more automatic, and more intelligent with purpose-designed software so that HR professionals and school leaders have the data and time they need to undertake transformational initiatives.

HR systems for education environments require considerable investment financially and also in terms of planning, time and commitment of resources. So before undertaking this process it is important that you are very clear about your objectives and the benefits an HR system could deliver. HR should not be considered in isolation but detailed analysis given to where else employee data is held and how connection between systems could work to support efficiencies and the retrieval of insightful and statutory data. This will include management information systems, payroll and pensions systems or managed services and potentially financial systems too.

Here we look at the things that you should consider when planning your specification and constructing your business case, including:

  • Managing change
  • Reducing costs
  • Increasing productivity or reducing headcount
  • Improving data accuracy & availability
  • Reducing risk.

1) Managing change

HR Software for education can drive efficiencies and also provide some very valuable analytical data. However, you need to be realistic about what you are going to do with the information once you have it. If your school has policies in place and, as a result of having better metrics available, you discover that they are not being adhered to, who will be responsible for ensuring that they are actively enforced? It is very likely that not just the people within your team, but across the wider organisation, will have to make changes to the way in which they work.

2) Reducing costs

Whether your motivations for new HR software are driven by a desire to improve service, reduce risks or drive efficiencies, calculating how it could impact the bottom line is going to be fundamental to your argument. The frustrating thing is that if you had decent Human Resources software this process would be rather simple, if you do not then it will require some investigation and possibly extrapolation to get the figures together.

Calculate the impact of employees not adhering to policies or managers not enforcing them.
It is quite possible that you already have some inkling as to where the efficiency leaks are in your school. Use this knowledge as a starting point. We would suggest paying particular attention to absence and lateness for example.

Calculate the man-hours that could be saved across the organisation entering, reconciling and searching for data.
Ask key people to keep records and extrapolate. You could include things like:

  • Entering timesheet data
  • Reconciling timesheet data for payroll
  • Collating data for the Workforce Census Return
  • Entering expenses
  • Keeping track of DBS check data and its timely deletion
  • Duplicating data entry across HR, Payroll, H&S and Finance
  • Chasing authorisations
  • Putting together reports
  • Responding to GDPR requests
  • Collating and publishing Gender Pay Gap data.

3) Increasing productivity

Once you have a clearer picture of where time could be saved, you will then need to consider what value-added activities employees could be completing in the time they would have spent entering, reconciling and searching for data. Depending on their role this could be, for example:

  • Strategic HR activities
  • Team management activities
  • Role-specific activities.

4) Improving data accuracy & availability

Informed decision making requires accurate data. How reliable is the data that you hold on your employees?

  • Is it up-to-date?
  • Has it been entered multiple times increasing the chances of error?
  • Is it auditable?
  • How accessible is the information that you hold to key stakeholders? That is not just to the HR and Payroll teams, but to employees, to managers and to governors?

HR technology can deliver insightful reporting opportunities and automate the sharing of this with the individuals that it is of value to.

5) Reducing risk

The fields of Human Resources and Payroll are a minefield of constantly changing legislation. Non-compliance can lead you to fall foul of the law, risking fines and even imprisonment. Mistakes can also endanger employees’ and clients’ well-being and damage an organisation’s reputation. You should consider the potential impact of overlooking things like:

  • DBS checks
  • Right-to-work checks
  • Pensions auto-enrolment responsibilities
  • Risk assessments
  • Health checks & vaccinations
  • Disciplinary and grievance
  • Working Time Directive laws
  • Minimum wage laws.

Selecting the right system

Thorough research is required to ensure the solutions that you evaluate have the specialist functionality that is required in an education environment. You may wish to undertake a full tender exercise yourself or investigate existing framework agreements that may be available to you. Things to look out for include the ability to manage:

  • Education contracts - term-time only working & teachers’ pay spines but also employees with multiple roles
  • Statutory reporting such as the Schools Workforce Census (SWF), Staff Individualised Record (SIR) and Single Central Record (SCR)
  • Integration with your school management information system
  • Integrated payroll software or a managed payroll service
  • Local Government & Teachers’ Pensions Schemes – with outputs to MDC and the iConnect service.

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