11 July 2019

Association of Commonwealth Universities picks Ciphr to enable strategic HR change

World’s first university network chooses Ciphr’s HR and recruitment systems to reduce admin and create a better employee experience


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. Her writing focuses on HR systems and solutions, as well as the employee experience at work.


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World’s first university network chooses Ciphr’s HR and recruitment systems to reduce admin and create a better employee experience

The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) – which is dedicated to building a better world through higher education and international collaboration – has chosen Ciphr to deliver and implement its new HR and recruitment system.

Ciphr will provide the foundation for the ACU’s strategic HR transformation, explains the ACU’s first HR business partner Willorna Brock. “We have a bold ambition to be a catalyst for positive change in education – one we want to achieve by becoming a high-performance organisation, ”she says. “

The ACU approached Ciphr by asking it to respond to its tender. “Ciphr was very enthusiastic and engaged right from the start,” says Brock. “They sent us a document outlining how they would support us with our goals, and even went to the trouble of using our logo and branding – those little touches matter a lot.”

Ciphr was one of two shortlisted vendors invited to showcase their HR systems at the ACU’s office in central London. “When Sam came to do the demo, she was very obliging at focusing on the areas of the system that we really wanted to see, such as recruitment and reporting.”

Brock says Ciphr’s HR and recruitment solutions “ticked a lot” of the ACU’s boxes. “We liked the feel of the interface: it’s very user friendly, very modern, very easy to use. We liked that we could customise it with our own terminology and branding. Ciphr has a good depth of functionality, across the employee lifecycle: we liked the onboarding functionality, for example, which will help us welcome new starters into the organisation. Self-service will also make a big difference to us, as will the reporting functionality – at the moment we know we have a lot of people data, but our ability to manipulate it or draw insights from it is limited.”

The ACU’s HR team is especially looking forward to the arrival of Ciphr iRecruit, Ciphr’s applicant tracking system (ATS). “Recruitment is a major piece of work for us at the moment and it’s very manual. Our managers are unable to track applications online and there is limited scope for us to share vacancies on social media channels. When we introduce Ciphr iRecruit early next year, all our recruitment admin will be done online, allowing members of the HR team to spend more time working on strategic projects.”

Another area that Brock hopes Ciphr will transform is performance management. “We recently rolled out a new process – ‘On Track’ – which is really fantastic and modern. Managers have regular one-to-ones and link meetings, and everyone can see how their goals align with the overall organisational objectives. All of that is done on paper at the moment. With Ciphr, we’ll be able to record those goals and conversations online, and managers will be notified automatically when tasks have been completed or are due.”

Brock adds: “I can’t wait for Ciphr to be implemented later this year. We are confident that it will help HR to focus on our strategic priorities and on improving the employee experience throughout the employee lifecycle.”