19 March 2019

WDP picks Ciphr to provide new HR software

Substance misuse support charity chose Ciphr for its easy-to-use system and expert knowledge


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.


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Substance misuse support charity chose Ciphr for its easy-to-use system and expert knowledge

WDP – a national substance misuse charity – has chosen UK software provider Ciphr to deliver and implement its new specialist HR system.

The pressure is on for Ciphr because the charity’s previous HR software implementation didn’t deliver on its promises. “There was an attempt a number of years ago to introduce a bespoke HR database, but there were a lot of problems,” explains Simon Marshall, head of workforce at WDP. “Expectations were unrealistic, the vendor wasn’t well-known for building HR systems, there was no aftercare factored in, and training was poor.

“We had so little faith in the system that we ended up going back to managing people data in Microsoft Excel,” he says. “It was a useful learning experience, but of course it made us wary of reinvesting in HR technology. However, as we’ve grown – we have over 400 staff and 100 volunteers, across multiple sites – it’s become apparent that we need appropriate HR software to meet our needs and support us as we continue to expand. There came a point where we needed to be able to manage our data more professionally.”

Marshall says the charity’s HR team of five faced a number of challenges with storing and processing people data through spreadsheets. “It meant that we were relying on people to be accurate and pay great attention to detail, and naturally that can sometimes slip. I was also spending a lot of time writing reports – trawling through 12 months’ worth of payroll data to identify starters and leavers, for example – and while I quite enjoy that, I realise that it’s not the best use of my time.”

When searching for the right HR software vendor to partner with, market credibility and system usability were crucial, says Marshall. He visited the 2018 CIPD HR Software and Recruitment Show in London to meet vendors and get a feel for their products. “One of the major selling points for me was that the person I spoke with, Katie, had worked in HR and understood the problems that we face in our HR department,” he says. “Other vendors left me a bit disappointed in their systems because I don’t think their people took the time to explain the products as well as Ciphr did.”

With the start of their Ciphr project imminent, Marshall says there is a mix of “excitement and fear” at WDP. “I say that because we’ve never had self-service HR before – it will be a massive cultural shift for us. We’re doing a lot of stuff manually at the moment, so if we can sweep that away, that’s going to free up a lot of time for our team to focus on proactively supporting our people across the organisation. We will find that we can refocus on what the HR function delivers for the benefit not only those who work for the organisation, but also for our service users more generally.”

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