North West healthcare trust 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which covers the areas of Halton, Knowsley, St Helens, Warrington and Wigan is now using cloud technology, ER Tracker, from Software Europe to manage employee relations cases, such as disciplinary, grievance, sickness and respect at work.
Software Europe's ER Tracker replaces the Trust’s ‘log’ - a collection of seven shared Microsoft Excel spreadsheets for managing up to 60 employee cases such as appeals, disciplinary and sickness at anyone time. The spreadsheets are supplemented by a series of Microsoft Word documents, which contain additional case information.
Kate Milner, HR Advisor, 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust explains the reasoning behind the move and some of the difficulties they had with their previous solution. “Our previous system of recording employee relations cases was antiquated, difficult to maintain, and difficult to use for report creation.”
Adding, “We used to have to access our spreadsheets consecutively so we didn’t create conflicting versions, but this made delays and so the data wasn’t always up to date at the moment when it’s needed. Sorting the data to present a different view was a challenge – the function is open to error and frequent manual corrections were needed. Creating our weekly report for the HR director involved summarising all of the spreadsheets into a single concise document.”
The new software enables the HR team – made up of three administrators and five HR advisors – to access the system simultaneously, making updates to cases at any time of the day without waiting for colleagues to finish. As a cloud service, it can be accessed remotely; ensuring cases are updated in a timely manner, which is something the HR team will utilise in the future.
The system comes complete with director dashboards of cases, providing real time information on the number of cases running on time or overdue. Plus, the HR Service Manager and Director of HR can login to the system at anytime and export specific reports, showing the progress, current status and outcomes of cases, for example. The Trust is also required to answer certain compliance questions, such as disciplinary versus ethnicity and disability. With one press of a button, the system can very easily split data to create the report. This would have been a very time consuming task previously.
The system also enables improved case management. It provides notifications for key stages of a case; monitors case progress and ensures the team hits its deadlines. The system automatically sends email reminders of case progress and looming deadlines to the case handlers and allows all case documents and notes to be held centrally.
Damian Byrne, Head Of Workforce Planning, Information & Resourcing, 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust says: “Using spreadsheets for case management is very common in the NHS, some trusts might use adapted IT systems or other case management systems designed for other industries. ER Tracker is the first system we have seen which is designed specifically for the public sector and fully customisable to the requirements of the Trust.”
The system went live in October 2014 is and is currently being used to manage all new employee relations cases. The existing spreadsheets are being maintained as an archive of past cases, although cases can be migrated as part of an implementation if required.