Derbyshire County Council IT overhaul set to streamline HR

Derbyshire County Council expects to save £1m over the next two years thanks to a major transformation of its IT systems, which is helping to streamline HR services.

The council has replaced its legacy mainframe software with new SAP enterprise-wide systems that link up HR, workforce management, payroll, financial control, logistics, property services and procurement.

Tony Compai, the council’s HR director, told Personnel Today the new systems would improve efficiency and free up HR employees to concentrate on strategic issues. However, he admitted cuts to the 250-strong HR function were likely as the council attempts to find ways to save £60m over the next four years.

“Inevitably that will mean posts, but we do have sufficient flexibility within the function to make those savings without having to resort to compulsory redundancies,” he said. “There will be a reduction in the HR function.”

The council spent 11 months working with IT services provider Capgemini UK to implement the SAP project, and now some 8,000 council employees use the new system.

Compai estimates the new technology will help save an additional 18 full-time equivalents, providing an annual saving of approximately £500,000, as well as improving efficiency.

“What you have is what we would call a ‘single version of the truth’,” he said. “The system is integrated. When running a report on HR issues it will have up-to-date financial information that relate to ledgers and budgets.

“For the first time this gives us meaningful, accurate, real-time management information,” he added. “A lot of our time as HR is consumed by producing information and [translating into] bite-sized chunks for managers. This gives managers individual information on their teams, [such as] attendance management. The advantage for HR is it will release some of that capacity that is currently consumed in producing that information to undertake other activity.”

Derbyshire’s move to automate its HR processes is likely to be replicated by other public sector employers with budgets set to become considerably tighter in the coming years.

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