3 September 2019

Anna Freud Centre picks Ciphr for HR, recruitment and payroll

Mental health charity chooses Ciphr for its integrated system, reporting capabilities, and helpful staff


Cathryn Newbery

Cathryn Newbery

Cathryn Newbery is head of content and community at Ciphr. She was previously deputy editor at People Management magazine. You can find her on Twitter @c_newbery.


Ciphr news HR transformation Technology


Mental health charity chooses Ciphr for its integrated system, reporting capabilities, and helpful staff

The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families has chosen Ciphr and its strategic partner, Payroll Business Solutions, to deliver the children’s mental health charity’s new integrated HR, recruitment and payroll system.

The quest for new software began when the amount of manual administration work carried out by the five-strong HR team – led by head of HR Pat Copeman – reached an unsustainable volume. “The current system takes up so much time, and time is money,” she says. “We want to get on with more proactive HR rather than being mostly reactive. I want life to be more interesting for my team, too – at the moment, it can sometimes feel as if they are updating spreadsheet after spreadsheet.”

Recruitment and payroll were particular pain points for the Centre. “For a relatively small organisation , we do a lot of recruitment,” explains Copeman. “Each month, we might advertise 10 vacancies, but some of those vacancies will be for multiple posts. It’s a sign that the Centre is expanding, which is great, but it makes things tough for HR – particularly because, at the moment, our recruitment and HR systems aren’t integrated.

“Payroll is currently really time consuming as well. We submit a complex spreadsheet to our provider and have to enter the same information on multiple tabs within that one spreadsheet. It means the room for error – at both ends – is way too high.”

When assessing the HR software market, Copeman was looking for a system that addressed all these pain points, and would also provide intuitive, easy-to-use self-service access for staff. “Self-service is completely new for us, and we are conscious that, even in 2019, not everyone is comfortable with technology. What we liked about Ciphr’s HR Software is that it’s very easy to use, and the interface is bright and appealing. Other systems didn’t make us feel very excited to use them – so how could we expect our staff to be excited about them?”

Copeman anticipates that introducing employee self-service will “transform HR” at the Anna Freud Centre. “We get emails all the time from people asking about working hours, holiday, or pay. In the future, line managers will be able to find the answers to these queries themselves through Ciphr, which will save my team so much time.” The HR team will also be able to respond more effectively to line managers’ requests for management information thanks to Ciphr’s intuitive ‘drag and drop’ report-building tool, she adds.

Implementing Ciphr iRecruit, Ciphr’s applicant tracking system (ATS) and Ciphr’s onboarding module will mean “there’s a seamless change from candidate to employee ,” she adds. “At the moment, new starters have to fill in a paper form; in some cases, illegible handwriting has led to problems with payments. With Ciphr, they’ll submit all that information online through the onboarding portal instead.”

While the Centre had some initial reservations about opting for a best-of-breed provider of integrated HR and payroll, Ciphr’s experts, James Avery and Amanda Barnden, “explained that Ciphr works closely with Payroll Business Solutions, so if we do have a query, you will take ownership of it and make sure the right person comes back to us.

“Both James and Amanda were really helpful,” adds Copeman. “They were very positive, really warm and friendly, and gave us a true picture of what Ciphr is capable of, rather than a glossy sales pitch, which we really appreciated.”

As their digital HR project is set to get underway, Copeman and her HR team are looking forward to Ciphr’s arrival in a few months’ time. “We are literally counting down the months now,” she says.

Ciphr works with a growing number of charities, including Battersea Dogs Home, Crisis and Refuge. Find out how Ciphr’s HR, recruitment and learning solutions could enable you to work more strategically by calling 01628 814242 or emailing [email protected].

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