The Liberal Democrats are streamlining its people processes and building employee engagement with the help of on-line HR system Cezanne HR.

The behind-the-scenes operation that supports the political party employs around 150 people who are based at the London HQ and across the regions.

A recent review of HR and payroll processes highlighted the need for a new system that would allow the party to keep all its people-related data in one central place and make it easier to manage day-to-day HR transactions.

“Our previous system was clunky and difficult to use and as it was hosted on one server, could only be accessed by people when they were at their desks,” explained Beau Wilson. “We also didn’t have a unified database so were working on two versions of the same thing and could see that mistakes were starting to creep in.”

After a number of demos from HR software providers, the Liberal Democrats decided that Cezanne HR was the best fit for their needs. “It could do everything we needed it to do and we felt it was extremely good value considering what it is capable of,” said Beau.

“We also felt that as a mid-sized, growing business themselves, they understood exactly what we needed.”

The party went live with the system in May and is currently using it to house employee data and HR information (such as contracts, policies and payslips), as well as to record absence and manage annual leave.

They see one of the key benefits of the system is the ability for managers and employees to access it from wherever they may be. The solution is based in the Cloud which means people can log on via a secure server and update their own information remotely, even via a smart phone. “There is an iPhone app which means if someone is sitting on a train and wants to book a day’s annual leave they can just do it there and then,” says Beau. “It saves time and will just make the little things much quicker and easier to do.”

Initial reaction to the system has been positive, with employees welcoming the easy-to-use format. “It’s a lot more intuitive than our previous system and because of that people are a lot more willing to explore it,” says Beau.

Once the basic system is firmly embedded, the Liberal Democrats plan to use other features, such as the performance management module, which will allow them to manage appraisals, and record and action training needs.

Beau also sees enormous potential in the social portal which comes as an integral part of the system. “We want to make the ‘workspace’ element of Cezanne HR really strong and see that it will eventually replace our intranet, which is currently very static,” he explained.

“It will allow us to set up special interest groups, for people like campaign officers for example, so they can network, collaborate and share information more easily. “We can also use it to promote the benefits we offer staff, such as eye tests for example. People don’t always remember what’s available to them – but if the information is there when they log on to the system, it acts as a reminder, will encourage take-up and help them appreciate the value of what’s on offer.”

Unlike many other systems, Cezanne HR also allows organisations to input information about people who are not on the payroll – another feature that will be particularly useful to the Liberal Democrats, who have a significant number of volunteers. “We can still register them on the system which means we have easy access to important personal information, but also helps to make them feel part of the team,” explained Beau. “I think the system overall is going to be really important for employee engagement – it will give people easy access to the information they need, will improve communication across the organisation and will just make everyone’s lives so much easier.”

Beau has also been particularly impressed with regularity of updates, which are automatically loaded onto the system so that users always have access to the most up-to-date version.

“Organisations are changing, legislation is changing, and what employees are expected to record is changing,” he said. “From what I have seen so far, I am confident that Cezanne HR will keep pace with the changes and will be focused on improving and enhancing our experience.

“They are also very responsive to any ideas or requests we have, and have helped us make adjustments to the system to meet our needs – we are now able to record in lieu time, for example, and have also extended the standard log-out times so people can keep the system open on their computer for longer, which will encourage them to use the workspace area.

We really like the fact that the system can grow alongside us and think it has enormous potential to support us in the future.”