A new IT system from Carval has revolutionised Cardiff Community Housing Association’s HR management and improved working practices for its staff.
The past few years have been difficult for CCHA as it has responded to changes in the housing sector, complied with new management practices mandated by the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG), and joined the Integrate Consortium (which comprises 10 Welsh housing associations), all of which have required changes to CCHA’s working practices.
CCHA employs around 100 staff across three sites. It has 12 external workers on-site, some 70 in-house staff responsible for housing services, HR, finance and IT, and 17 staff contracted from Care & Repair. CCHA’s working policies aim to support flexible working and give its employees some degree of control over when, where and how they work.
To meet these external and internal demands, CCHA reviewed its HR systems with a view to replacing them. It was mainly using Access databases, which were slow, unreliable and caused too much duplication of work, and paper documents for processing policies and procedures.
CCHA’s project team, comprising HR and IT staff , established the core requirements of an HR system to manage employees, posts and salaries, alongside management of staff training and recruitment, and efficient HR report writing. Self-service functionality was needed to allow staff to book leave, change their personal details and view their contracts. Self-service was also required for accessing technical competencies and objectives as well as risk assessments such as site hazards or lone worker concerns. CCHA’s final requirement was access to more accurate and timely payroll information and better integration between the finance and HR systems.
Having reviewed the HR systems market and put the project out to tender, CCHA chose Carval’s HR Unity system. The facility for bespoke development was one of the key reasons for selecting Carval beyond the basic business and functional requirements of the tender. Carval could provide bespoke versions of its self-service HR and time and attendance systems to manage CCHA’s flexi-time arrangements, record the appraisal process and generate risk assessments, and by deploying web-based self-service throughout the system, CCHA staff could access data remotely.
Jim Sweeney, ICT manager, CCHA, said, “We needed to build in specific functionality that met our particular needs. To do this effectively, the chosen supplier had to understand the needs of the HR team in supporting our core values.”
The new SQL Server-based system has given CCHA better management of external HR factors, such as legislation, training, and recruitment, and HR reporting has become faster and more comprehensive, resulting in better decisions being made. Furthermore, the time and attendance module has supported CCHA’s flexible work policies, enabling the HR team to manage home working, compressed working and start and finish time variants more effectively.
Louise Sulley, HR manager, CCHA, said, “There were many tangible benefits with the new HR system. It was a huge step forward to be able to base decisions on new types of reports that we were previously unable to create. The ability of our staff to use the self-service functionality has saved a great deal of administration time and has been well received by the staff themselves. Most importantly though, we didn’t need to compromise any of our core values; in fact the self-service side of the system has helped to reinforce them.”