In 2007, Capita signed a contract with the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) to provide outsourced HR solutions for its 28,000 employees and 15,000 line managers across 12 departments. Capita took on the delivery of recruitment, HR advice and guidance, payroll, HR administration, HR case management, learning and development administration, and HR contact management services creating HRConnect – the largest and most complex greenfield HR outsource at that time in the UK.
This ambitious programme of reform and modernisation set up a professional employee relations service from scratch and integrated 12 different departments into a single operating model and system. This ground-breaking project was the first full service HR outsourcing contract in central government, gaining it Pathfinder status from the UK Government.
The Capita Shared Service Centre (SSC) in Belfast city centre provides a wide range of HR services that the NICS’ individual departments had previously provided locally and in-house from over 60 sites in Northern Ireland. It also involved the move from mainframe systems to a modern Oracle-based HR portal developed by Fujitsu. Capita’s service commitments also included a dramatic reduction in the cost base for the service. The NICS departments had agreed a redeployment strategy with the trade unions and over 400 staff were redeployed internally during the service transition. Capita hired and trained all 200 staff who now deliver the service. Vitally, this enabled NICS to free up resources for front-line work and allows NICS HR staff to concentrate on the strategic agenda and addressing departmental HR issues.
During the transition, the Capita programme team had to deal with a number of complex factors. All of the technology was new and the provider was implementing a common solution, knowing that all of the departments were operating different policies and procedures. Capita managed all of the business process review work to dramatically simplify the services and introduce one way of working for all. It invested heavily in a very rigorous knowledge transfer and training development programme for all staff.
To fill basic skills gaps in the locally available candidate pool, Capita set up its own Payroll Academy for new hires, which they needed to complete before going into live operation.
Notably, HRConnect also provides payroll services to over 28,000 monthly and weekly-paid staff, to very high standards of accuracy (consistently achieving 99.9 per cent) which are the envy of other public sector organisations.
When the justice system was devolved in 2010, Capita was able to work closely with Enterprise Shared Services (which now manages the contract) and play its part in bringing into existence the new Department of Justice as a new HRConnect customer. More recently, the Courts and Tribunals Service completed a very successful on-boarding exercise and is now also using HRConnect services. The resultant HRConnect services are now an accepted and vital part of the daily running of the Civil Service. HR Advisory Services include telephony advice and guidance on all matters relating to policies, procedures and terms and conditions of employment, and a case management service for discipline, grievance, equality and performance management, including internal appeals and supporting case closure. Support is also provided to departmental solicitors and named respondents for external appeals and the consultancy services include mediation and special investigations.
While a considerable and successful innovation in itself, HRConnect – and the relationships and platforms it delivered – has also provided a solid foundation for continuing innovation. The KPIs are some of the toughest in the market and are consistently reached. HRConnect has enhanced the level of reporting and rigour to HR processes in terms of transparent metrics and contracted service levels. It has also been subject to a rigorous audit schedule by the client and their representatives and the payroll service has been fully accredited to the ISO9001:2008 standard by the British Standards Institution since 2010. The contract is valued at £104 million and will run until 2022.
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