Bringing HR into focus for Vision Direct

It’s not uncommon for HR teams to rely on outdated, manual processes to keep the wheels of an organisation turning.

Vision Direct – Europe’s leading provider of eye care services for over 20 years – were in that very situation. With no HR system to help them manage the needs of their workforce, processes were frustratingly manual and time-consuming. As a result, their HR team was constantly getting bogged down in menial admin requests, an over-reliance on paper-based processes and spreadsheet-based reporting.

In 2018, Christine North joined the company as their new HR Manager. As soon as she arrived, she could see that a company of Vision Direct’s size couldn’t continue to grow without the support of a dedicated HR system.

With so many manual, admin-based tasks eating away at her HR team’s valuable time, she knew an HR solution could help automate and refine all their processes – leaving both her and her team to focus on more strategic organisational objectives.

We sat down for a chat with Christine to discover how implementing the Cezanne HR system has benefitted both the company and her HR team…

Hi Christine, tell us a little about yourself

I’m the HR Manager for Vision Direct and I’m responsible for our operations here in the UK, Amsterdam, Spain, France and Ireland. It’s quite a large and varied role, but I’m also supported by my HR assistant and Operational HR Business Partner, who looks after our operations in the north of the UK and helps to support our European colleagues.

What modules do you have with Cezanne HR?

We have the core People Management module (which includes Training and Development), the Absence Management module and Onboarding. We’ve also recently just added Insights which we’re in the process of learning how to use.

What were the original pain points your business was experiencing that brought you to choose Cezanne HR’s system?

When I joined in 2018, we had no HR system whatsoever. The only payroll-related software we used at the time was Sage – but it was incredibly admin-heavy and just wasn’t very good! I’d used HR software in my previous roles, so finding a solution that could integrate with payroll software was something I was keen to bring in.

We looked at various companies when choosing our software, but Cezanne HR gave us everything we wanted when it came to managing a large European workforce. The fact the system was modular and had a really strong integration with the PBS Accord payroll system, were important factors, too.

How have your chosen modules helped with your HR team’s day-to-day operations?

Cezanne HR has totally changed the way we run HR within Vision Direct. Going from spreadsheets and manual data entry where you couldn’t guarantee the data would be correct… we now have accurate point-in-time reporting, accurate employee data, accurate salary data… just everything! It really has changed everything for us now.

It’s just brilliant now because, for example, we get automatic notifications when things are due or happening with our employees which makes things so much more efficient. We also use the form builder a lot which has proven extremely helpful when it comes to capturing employee data accurately.

From a day-to-day perspective, being able to pull up employee records and data so easily has made a huge difference to us. The reporting has also really helped things, too. We can run reports for virtually anything; like today, I’m just running a report for leavers this month, but I could also report on leavers in the last month, leavers for however many days in advance… it’s just fantastic the level of detail we can now go into. The [Cezanne HR] system is invaluable.

How have you found the support from the Cezanne HR team?

We implemented the system in stages: we first got things up and running in London before putting it out to our operations teams in our warehouse in York and then to Amsterdam and Spain. Our implementation consultant was extremely helpful in getting us that far, but when it came to implementing it with our customer service team, we discovered they had much more complex needs that required more expert help.

At that point, Peter and Silvia [Cezanne HR’s Head of Customer Support and Head of Customer Success respectively] stepped in to help with the customer services team implementation, and it went extremely well. Overall, the support we’ve received from the team at Cezanne HR has meant we’ve gone from strength to strength ever since.

Have your original issues now been resolved?

Yes, completely! The disparate processes we were once relying upon have now been replaced by the more joined-up and cohesive approach that the Cezanne HR system brings. Cezanne HR is our data, our master – we use it for virtually everything and it has revolutionised the business’s entire HR operation.

Are there any features you find particularly useful?

I love the notifications. We’ve setup a huge number of notifications for a range of things: not just for HR, either. As an example, we’ve set them up for our managers to prompt them to complete probationary reviews, let IT know when people are leaving and other vital day-to-day HR admin duties. I also think the form builder and reporting functionalities are both brilliant, too – they’re definitely some of the strongest features of the Cezanne HR system in my opinion.

The other area that I think is brilliant are the Workspaces. My Operations HR Business Partner has set a workspace up for managers that contains all the documents and support information they may need. Things like disciplinary letter templates, guidance on how to deal with grievances… all the stuff managers may need but might not necessarily deal with in their usual day-to-day operations. It means managers don’t have to approach HR to ask how to do things or where to find things: it’s all on the workspace and it’s proven to be a great way to share information.

We’ve got different ones setup for different areas of the business, and we keep all the company handbooks, benefit information and corporate information there so our employees have an easy-to-access resource of organisation information.

It’s very helpful for our employee onboarding too. We can setup new starter self-service portals where our new employees can access the staff handbooks, company policy documents and information on the business – it just makes the onboarding process a lot more efficient for everyone.

Oh, and one last thing I’ve thought of: the e-mail templates and document upload tracking functionality is something we use all the time. It’s great when we need to have important documents signed or need to send out large volumes of formal emails – you just pick the template you need and away you go!

How has the system been received with your staff?

The best thing I can say is that everyone now just instinctively knows where everything is and regularly uses the system without prompting. For managers, being able to see their team’s employment histories and access to their employment details has also been really good.

It’s always being used by our employees when it comes to updating personal records, logging absences etc… it’s been great for us and helped HR immensely. We haven’t had to prompt any of our employees to use the system, either: it’s so simple and straightforward. We also haven’t had to provide much training to use the system, our employees have just dived right in.

Would you recommend Cezanne HR to others?

Oh definitely – I already have done! It does everything we want, it looks slick, it’s made everything just so easy now. I’d wholeheartedly recommend it!

vision direct headshot hr manager
Christine North, HR manager

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