• Industry: Education
  • Employees: 5,000
  • Customer since 2008

About the University of St Andrews

The University of St Andrews is Scotland’s first university and the third oldest in the English-speaking world. It was founded in 1413 and, over six centuries, has established a reputation as one of Europe’s leading and most distinctive centres for teaching and research.

The St Andrews challenge

With teams based in multiple locations and employed on a variety of contracts, including casual, part-time and full-time staff, St Andrews’ HR and Payroll teams were struggling under a mountain of complexity, spending vast amounts of time pulling together paperwork and information from a variety of sources.

The Uni was also required to regularly submit information to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). For St Andrews, as for many other educational institutions, the data required for this has often been stored in multiple locations, making it difficult to pull together quickly and efficiently.

St Andrews needed a system that would open up new ways of working, and tools that would help the team do their jobs better and faster – as well as finding ways to improve engagement with staff across the University.

The Zellis solution

St Andrews University has built a strong and evolving partnership with Zellis and its HR and payroll functions have been completely transformed using ResourceLink.

The solution has been designed to align with the needs of all employees – even when their circumstances change, through maternity/paternity, promotions, secondments or changes to hours, for example.

Onboarding new starters is now a painless task. Whenever someone new joins, the recruitment team simply inputs their details, scans relevant documents and passes the info on to the payroll team – all done without reams of paperwork exchanging hands.

This means the payroll team has everything it needs, from both the records held within ResourceLink and from the scanned document storage area.

It’s just as simple for casual staff as it is for permanent employees, as Payroll and Pensions Manager, Shona Donohoe explains: “Each school within the University sends us a spreadsheet with details of its casual staff, including variable hours tutors. All we have to do is upload each spreadsheet and check the data via a report. It’s saved us a huge amount of time and effort.

“Every step an individual has to complete is clear to see on the ResourceLink dashboard, so it’s easy to see your workload each day”, Shona adds. “A graphical representation of each workflow, with timescales, objectives and time taken is displayed. Not only does this make our peoples’ lives easier, it’s also a fantastic tool for management to track performance against KPIs.”

The Advanced Procurement for Universities (APUC) has determined that Zellis provides the ‘Most Economically Advantageous Tender for HR and Payroll solutions’ for universities and colleges in the UK allowing simplification of the whole procurement process. Zellis is also on G-Cloud and are happy to compete in OJEU processes wherever this is preferred, so it has never been easier for HE and FE institutions to access ResourceLink.

The results

An added benefit for St Andrews is that the HR and Payroll teams have access to information wherever they are. Because HR staff are often working off campus, they can use ResourceLink to pick up the information they need via their iPads when they’re out and about or from other devices when they’re working from home.

And ResourceLink has improved communication with all employees. Giving staff the ability to look at their payslips online, for example, might sound simple but it’s an invaluable tool at St Andrews and has made a huge difference in terms of engagement.

To address the complexity around reporting to HESA, Zellis set up a working group with selected universities, including St Andrews, and asked them what would make their lives easier. On the back of that a specific HESA module was built within ResourceLink.

The module was tested across 18 higher education institutions. A truly collaborative process, it is now used by all of Zellis Higher Education Sectors customers.

Shona sits on that working group: “HESA reporting used to be a hugely time-consuming process. We had to pull data from multiple sources and build new spreadsheets to consolidate the info. Now, a HESA staff record report is created, validated and output in an XML format that complies with HESA requirements. The HESA module also gives us a real-time view of HESA data at all times.”

Shona believes it has completely transformed everyone’s HESA work and can potentially save about a month of working time each year, depending on the size of the institution.

“Zellis really stepped up to the plate and developed a solution that is making a huge difference, for every user.”