Jamie Oliver GroupIt’s probably true to say that passion and people are at the heart of The Jamie Oliver Group, an organisation that describes itself as responsible for ‘all things Jamie’.

With a remit covering everything from an award-winning TV production company and magazine, to a YouTube network and charity foundation (The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation), the group appreciates the importance of effective processes and great communications.

Its existing HR system was proving unreliable and difficult for employees to navigate, so the people and development team began to look around for a new solution that would cope with the complexities of their set up, and would evolve alongside the business.

Cezanne HR fitted the bill because of its intuitive, user-friendly design, range of modules and online delivery – which allows employees to access the system from anywhere, and from virtually any device; PC, Mac, tablet or mobile. The fact that the HR system is delivered on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) basis also fitted well with the company’s strategy to optimise IT resources and get all of its systems in the Cloud.

The transition to the new system went smoothly, with Cezanne HR supporting set up of the system, and safe transfer of exiting HR data into the new software. Confidentiality and data security were of the utmost importance to the business, who were very happy with the support they received during this initial stage. “The team at Cezanne HR were extremely helpful and responsive and we were able to go live in less than a month,” said Project Manager Gareth Simpson.

The Jamie Oliver Group initially took the core HR and absence management modules. This allows them to keep all HR information, including employee-related documents, in one central place, and thanks to the self-service element, gives staff the ability to keep their own personal data up-to-date and book their holidays or register sick leave online.

The HR and IT teams had some preliminary training and were then able to roll the system out to the rest of the business. “People were given their log-in instructions and a handbook, together with an offer of training if they needed it, but no-one actually asked for it,” said Gareth. “They were able to pick it up really quickly, everyone has found it easy to use and the feedback has been great.”

In keeping with the fun culture of the company, a competition was launched internally to name the system – as a result of which VERA (Very Easy Really Accurate) was born.

Just a few months after implementation, employees are already seeing the benefits. The process for booking holidays, for example, has become much quicker and simpler. “With the previous system people had to go through five screens and it wasn’t always clear what they needed to do next, as a result of which they often thought they’d successfully booked time off when they hadn’t,” explained Gareth. “Now it’s just one screen and it’s done.”

Recording sickness absence is also a simpler process and going forward, the business is looking forward to being able to pull off valuable information about absence trends. The availability of mobile apps has also proved useful, says Gareth. “Staff can book holidays and log absence while they are out of the office, and managers have an up-to-the-minute picture of who in their team is out at any one time.”

After a successful pilot, the business has also just signed up for the time module, which it will be using to track time against estimated budgets. “It will help us see how accurate we are at estimating the time it will take us to complete projects and will help us become more productive,” said Gareth.

Looking further ahead, The Jamie Oliver Group also hopes to introduce the performance management module, to help it shift from a time-consuming manual process to one that make it simpler to gather together the information needed to support the company’s on-going commitment to developing its people.