If you’re keen to network with payroll and HR peers, learn from each other’s experiences, and share suggestions for product development, Zellis Independent User Group (ZiUG) could be ideal for you.

Lisa Martin, Senior HR Systems and Payroll Officer at Falkirk Council, has been an active ZiUG member for 16 years. She is currently Chair of the Scottish branch and is a particular fan of the User Group’s in-person events. These include the annual User Summit as well as meetings for the Scotland, Republic of Ireland, and national user group.

Zellis Independent User Group Lisa Martin c

“The real value for me comes from the in-person events. People are always keen to chat and learn and speak to each other, so it’s very welcoming.”

Lisa Martin, Senior HR Systems and Payroll Officer (Falkirk Council); ZiUG Scotland Chair

“If people don’t know what to expect, they can always reach out to me or Asraf [Kassam, ZiUG’s chair] a. We always make a point of including people, particularly if they’ve not been before.”

But there are other benefits to membership too, Lisa believes:

“It’s about having ready access to a network of fellow professionals who are using the same system, working with the same modules and experiencing the same things,” Lisa explains.

“If we’re doing development work, for example, and need help with something, we can ask other people at the User Group for their thoughts.”

Information exchange at Zellis Independent User Group

While this communication process used to take place via email, ZiUG set up its own portal about 18 months ago. The aim was to enable its members to connect more readily and support more effective networking and discussion.

“People now have ready access,” Lisa says. “So, you can log on and ask, for example, if anyone has any information about handling annual leave for part-time employees and what they’ve done in this scenario, and people will answer. There are notes and recordings from previous meetings too.”

Zellis User Summit 2022 networking (1)

Members can do more than exchange information about how to make best use of Zellis’ HR system and UK payroll software. They can also share information for Zellis to consider in future product development. This helps to maximise their investment and ensure they receive the best value from it.

“If enough people share the same things, it’s fed back to Zellis,” Lisa explains. They can’t do everything but they do take our comments on board. But if you’re not part of that, it’s more difficult to make your voice heard. It’s much easier if there’s a collective voice.”

The importance of being independent

Contributing proactively is vital if members are to get the most out of the experience, Lisa believes:

“Zellis always has people at our events, so it’s important to use your voice and ask questions. That way they’ll get a real feel for what customers think.

“They won’t know and they won’t be able to build on things if we don’t share our opinions in a constructive way. So it’s important to contribute and take part.”

Asraf Kassam, Operations Delivery Manager at Coventry City Council and ZiUG’s Chair (for the second time round), agrees. A member since 2006, he is keen to emphasise the independent nature of ZiUG. The network was set up as long ago as 1996 by a group of customers.

“Being independent means we’re in control of our own agenda and what we want to talk about, although we do work in partnership with Zellis. We have a fantastic working relationship with them, but we have honest and difficult conversations as and when they’re needed too.”

Asraf Kassam, Operations Delivery Manager (Coventry City Council); ZiUG National Chair

ZiUG’s aims for the future

As to his aims for the future, a key one is to grow the membership base. To this end, ZiUG has recently halved its current membership fees for 2024, to further support existing and new organisations through today’s difficult economic circumstances.

A second important goal, meanwhile, is to nearly double the number of committee members from four to seven. This will help the User Group connect more deeply with new and existing organisational members.

“The idea is to ensure we have a regular dialogue with everybody to understand where they are in their journey,” Asraf says. “It’s about understanding their experience, whether they’re a new or existing customer. So, understanding, for example, whether they’re implementing and using all of the available functionality and getting optimal return on investment.”

In other words, he explains: “It’s about trying to build up a picture so we can start educating our members about what they should be focusing on in two years’ time. If you’re thinking about going here or implementing these modules, here’s a group of people who have already gone through that journey.”

Learn more about, and join, Zellis Independent User Group.