Case Study: Coventry City Council – Out to tender

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Chris Burrows, E-HR Manager Coventry City Council rides the e-rollercoaster of HR and Payroll solutions selection and explains the considerations and drivers behind the move.

Coventry City Council is a Metropolitan District with approximately 16,000 employees. A significant number of those employees have more than one job with the Council and the issue of multiple employments, in common with many Councils, is a key consideration in the selection of a new HR and Payroll solution.

The City Council's current contract for its HR and Payroll system ends in October 2006, and because of the age of the current software, the Council's Management Board agreed in January 2004 that we should explore alternative and newer solutions, rather than seeking an extension to the current contract.

Our principal business drivers for the replacement solution were clear from the outset. They were:

  • Improving the quality of management information so as to support better strategic decision making and workforce planning
  • Reducing paperwork, increasing efficiency and accuracy of ‘back office’ processes in line with the Gershon recommendations. This will bring people productivity gains.
  • Improving service quality by ensuring that work is actioned more rapidly, and that much of the resulting correspondence is generated automatically by the new solution.
  • Improving the ‘value addedness’ of the HR and Payroll Services by reducing the headcount over a period of time because of productivity gains.

Key to the delivery of the business drivers, was that the new solution will have employee and manager self service and workflow technology embedded.

Our functionality specification was created as a result of initial market research and then refined as a result of internal consultation with HR and Payroll staff and senior managers.

Our key partners in the project internally are HR, Payroll, ICT and operational managers. Our external partners are external payroll customers, our ICT provider (Serco), and will be the successful vendor once selected. Other partners are Legal and Procurement (contractual advice). All our partners are being briefed regularly on progress with the project.

We knew that the replacement of the HR/Payroll system provided us with an opportunity to make a step difference to what we do and how we do it and this resulted in the Council granting us funding in February of this year.

We have now gone out to tender via the "G-Cat" mechanism (a Government preferred route through the Office of Government Contracts, as it reduces the time taken to let a contract).

Given the intention to introduce manager and employee self service, and the major cultural change that this will bring, we have planned to invest heavily in the training of staff on the use of the solution.

On the evaluation of tenders, we have decided on a four stage process:

Stage 1 - Paper evaluation This stage will look at each tender to establish whether:

  • they have responded correctly to the tender documentation
  • their product can satisfy all of our essential functional requirements
  • the reference sites they are recommending are sufficiently relevant to the business and requirements of the City Council and
  • the supplier is able to meet the demands or timescales of our subsequent evaluation stages.

Stage 2 - a series of two-day demonstrations
This stage will involve a series of two-day demonstrations (one by each software supplier that gets through the stage 1 evaluation process). Suppliers will be required to demonstrate a number of business scenarios both for HR and for Payroll.

Stage 3 – Reference site visits
This stage will require each software supplier that gets through stage two to nominate one reference site that is using their product in the way we would wish to use it (i.e. full HR and Payroll functionality, work flow and self service). We will be choosing a second reference site to visit.)

Stage 4 – Project Board decision
This stage will decide which software solution to purchase.

Following stage 4, we will go into a period of contract clarification with the successful supplier. This is to ensure that both parties (the Council and the supplier) are clear about exactly what the contract for the supply of the software entails.

We are planning on a tiered implementation process:

  • Stage 1: Core HR – September 2005 to March 2006
  • Stage 2: SIMS – November 2005 to February 2006
  • Stage 3: Payroll – April to September 2006
  • Stage 4: Recruitment – October 2006 to January 2007
  • Stage 5: Casework – February to June 2007

In summary:

  • Be clear about your business drivers from the outset
  • Get sign up at the highest level in your organisation
  • Secure funding for the project
  • Do your market research
  • Consult widely, internally about your functional requirements and anticipate future requirements as far as possible
  • Engage your internal and external partners in the project at the earliest opportunity
  • Undertake a rigorous evaluation process
  • Plan a phased rollout of the implementation stages
  • Ensure timely and detailed training of all staff that will be using the solution (not just HR and Payroll staff)
  • Regularly brief staff throughout the project.

For further information about this project, contact Chris Burrows, Project Manager, Coventry City Council ([email protected])

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