Superior self-service features help make absence management a breeze for Somerset Skills and Learning

Somerset Skills and Learning (SS&L) is an independent training provider that works across Somerset providing adult education, apprenticeships and traineeships. As well as offering skills and qualifications, they’re also key investors in community projects that help disadvantaged groups to improve their lives through learning.

With a large workforce spread across 5 different sites, SS&L provide learning opportunities to over 6,000 people in the Somerset area and beyond – meaning there’s rarely a quiet day for the organisation’s hard-working staff!

What was the reason for Somerset Skills and Learning looking to introduce a new HR system?

Managing the needs of a large workforce effectively not only requires a dedicated HR team, but also software to help make the day-to-day processes as efficient and easy as possible. Unfortunately for SS&L, whilst they had an exemplary HR team working hard to keep everything running smoothly, their HR software was simply not making their lives particularly easy.

The core of the problem came from the fact that SS&L’s HR team were the only people using the HR software platform, and crucially, it didn’t include any form of self-service functionality. As a result, the process for managing absence requests was particularly inefficient and was reliant on a hodgepodge of systems and individual processes which were sometimes different from team-to-team, and even manager-to-manager, as Mandy Overton, SS&L’s lead Technologist Coordinator explained…

“Our annual leave processes used a mix of a number of different spreadsheets and emails flying back and forth – which was very time consuming, very messy, with no overview of any aspect of it at all… everybody was doing their own thing!”

“Before our HR solution was only being used by the HR team and this wasn’t really helping either. It was the employee self-service functionality of Cezanne HR’s software that really sold it for us; both for the people management and especially the absence elements of the system.”

“Cezanne HR gave us the opportunity with employee self-service to give our people ownership and allow our management team to have a vital overview of what is really going on. People can now access, update and edit their own information and the whole process for booking leave has become easier. Managing leave requests is much easier now as it’s now virtually all automated. Self-service has just worked incredibly well for everyone!”

somerset skills and learning

Making HR easy for everyone

Of course, making the whole annual leave process better for everyone was only part of the story for Mandy. SS&L switched to Cezanne HR’s People and Absence Management modules to not only make absence management effortless for their staff, but also enable their HR team to organise, secure and access key employee data all in one place.

“It’s been really good!” says Mandy. “I don’t think there’s anything that we went looking for in the initial software selection process that Cezanne HR hasn’t provided and both modules are doing exactly what we need them to do. It’s been great not to have to answer loads of questions about how to use it, how to find this, how to do that… the rollout’s all gone very smoothly, and our people have all just hit the ground running with it.”

It’s not just the big-ticket functionality that’s made an impact with SS&L, though, as Mandy described.

“The little things like single sign-on functionality (with Office 365) has been brilliant. It’s a little thing on the surface, but it’s made an incredible difference as now our employees can access absence requests and follow our processes as intended.”

“When I was comparing systems, the single sign-on function was a big thing for us. The single sign-on helps with shared login credentials across multiple applications, which reduces IT admin, supports an application-wide security policy around password formats and expirations… it makes things much easier for the day-to-day user.”

“The self-service though has made a huge impact for us as our entire workforce can now use the system – not just the HR team, so absence requests and the associated admin is now much easier to handle and quicker compared to before. In general, the Cezanne system has made a huge difference for the entire company.”

Looking to the future

With SS&L’s staff benefitting from a far more rewarding and engaging HR experience, and the internal people management processes working incredibly efficiently, Mandy is now looking to the future. In particular, how SS&L goes about the onboarding of new employees – which is just as important as how they engage with their current workforce.

“In terms of future movement, we’re currently trialling the [Cezanne HR] Performance Management modules as we think that will work well for digitising our current appraisal system. The onboarding elements [Cezanne HR’s Onboarding module] will probably be looked at next in order to better help bring people into the company – we’d really like to make those processes work better, too.”

In closing, Mandy and SS&L have been extremely happy with not only Cezanne HR’s software but also the general levels of service they’ve received over the years it’s been active, with Mandy commenting that “The support behind it has also been great – we came to the user group before lockdown in London and since online. Everyone in the support team has been really helpful, with nothing too much trouble – I’d definitely recommend Cezanne HR to other companies!”

Quote from Senior Stakeholder, Andy Hobbs, Head of Operations at SS&L

“Cezanne HR has resolved all the issues we had previously with a lack of oversight and no ability to track absences or training across the company. The software is excellent, and it’s made all our HR processes a lot smoother. Having everything in one place is great, especially when spread across multiple sites. I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t have this type of software.”