Cafcass partners with MHR

Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) is a non-departmental public body which looks after the interests of children involved in family proceedings. Working with children and their families, it then advises the courts on what it considers to be in the best interest of individual children. Cafcass is the largest single employer of social workers in England with 1,800+ staff in 56 offices.

Cafcass has seen an unprecedented increase in demand over the past five years. Now working with over 145,000 children annually, staff caseloads have increased by 40% since 2009. In addition to this increase, public sector budget cuts have meant that Cafcass has had to ensure its resources are directed towards supporting the frontline.

Cafcass took the decision that existing separate legacy systems for HR, payroll and training were no longer fit for purpose.

Following a formal tendering process, MHR was selected to partner Cafcass in early 2011 to implement iTrent – a single specialist platform for talent management, workforce planning, HR and payroll. 

Innovative Technology Approach

Jabbar Sardar, Director of HR and Organisational Development, Cafcass comments:

“I could immediately see iTrent’s potential and pulled together an in-house development team with the necessary skills and knowledge to work alongside MHR. iTrent’s flexible functionality presented an opportunity to support wider organisational change; to help bridge the growing gap between resources and demand, create a framework around key processes to improve accountability and performance, while also  reducing risk. The flexibility of iTrent meant we could add information to the system that is specific to our organisation helping to meet our ambitions of improved organisational performance and efficiency.”

In order to meet Cafcass’ performance and efficiency goals, the following HR project objectives were highlighted, namely to:

  • Integrate three separate legacy systems – HR, payroll and learning – into one system
  • Streamline and automate manual processes
  • Support a cultural shift toward ‘self-help’
  • Minimise and simplify staff-related administration
  • Ensure staff adopt self-service
  • Shift to electronic recruitment
  • Produce key strategic management information more easily, quickly and accurately to achieve annual efficiency savings of £196,000.

System development was undertaken at speed to ensure Employee Self-Service would be activated by April 2012. A clear communications strategy was agreed and supported by Cafcass’ internal communications department and HR colleagues to support staff buy-in. 

New functionality included

Health and Wellbeing: All health and wellbeing interventions with staff are tracked, including Occupational Health, proactive wellbeing interventions for staff, and health and safety incident recording. Through detailed management information, the HR team and managers can monitor
the implementation of adjustment and support to staff, mitigating the risk of absence or diminished wellbeing.

By utilising the membership functionality through employee self-service, staff can update their own election to the organisation’s medical scheme, managing the process from staff member right through to payroll deduction.

Recruitment: A configured short-listing function eliminates paper processes. iTrent presents recruiting managers with streamlined short-listing matrices to enable the assessment of applications on-screen. Shortlisting scores and outcomes instantly input into iTrent, eliminating the need to print and send cumbersome recruitment packs across a national organisation. Reports are run in real time, generating timely communications to candidates which significantly reduces time spent waiting for decisions.

The rollout of the recruitment function was vital in supporting an overhaul of Cafcass’ total recruitment processes as candidates must now participate in a multipart, multimedia process. Prior to final interviews, candidates undertake telephone interviews and online assessments, with each stage managed using iTrent functionality.

Employee Relations: A fully integrated bespoke employee relations case management module supports HR staff in effectively managing and reporting employee relations cases. With detailed screens for formal capability issues, misconduct cases, staff absence, employment tribunals and grievances, iTrent data is used for management reporting, thus freeing up significant capacity when monitoring frontline HR performance.

Temporary Staff: A far more efficient process has been introduced to support managers in recruiting temporary staff. Automated emails are sent to external agencies and in-built compliance checks ensure safe recruitment. This new process significantly reduces the time required from HR and allows managers rapid access to potential candidates, whilst ensuring compliance with legislative requirements of recruiting staff that safeguard vulnerable children. The process also creates a direct link for effective financial reporting on the temporary workforce.

Enhanced Management Reporting: Using iTrent’s in-built reporting functionality along with advanced reporting via Business Objects, data is now available on every member of staff and their team. This has changed the landscape in terms of the quality of management information produced as reporting is underpinned by iTrent’s automatic notification tools. This keeps managers informed about key workforce issues, such as enabling speedy intervention in absence cases. 

Impact of Innovation

Along with the efficiencies created by the successful iTrent implementation, many other key benefits have arisen.

Cafcass reports:

  • The enablement of a ‘day one’ intervention model for sickness absence through effective management information enabled the HR department and managers to directly support a near 50% reduction in sickness absence.
  • Current staff sickness is now below 6 days p.a., compared with a national public sector average of 6.8 days (CIPD).
  • 12 months after the implementation of iTrent organisational sickness costs were £1.8M, compared to £3.3M in 2010, these cost are continuing to reduce.
  • A reduction in stress-related absence by over 80% in the last 18 months through improved staff wellbeing and proactive use of information and employee relations management
  • More accurate and easy to produce strategic management information, enabling a greater ability to challenge managers and support staff with real time data, also reducing requests to HR
  • Significantly enhanced workforce planning through real time reporting and associated analysis
  • An improved employer brand with real time management information now tracking the large number of real time recruitment campaigns. This has sped up the process of supporting the 1,500+ applications a year, and adding value to Cafcass
  • Enhanced business continuity compared to previous systems as iTrent can be accessed from any internet enabled computer. This means managers and HR can access information when needed, equipping them for such instances. 

Measuring Objectives

iTrent has directly supported corporate efficiency savings in excess of £266,000 per annum, of which £166,000 are cashable savings.

The project continues...

“The focus is now to continue improvements to the quality of our service offering over the next 18 months,” concludes Sardar. “This is set against the backdrop of increasing demand and a continued squeeze on resources. iTrent is driving development across Cafcass. As well as self service soon to be available on everyone’s portable device, we’ve launched an individual staff scorecard via Microsoft SharePoint, which is driven by iTrent data. This innovation is further supporting cultural change and improvement within the organisation.

“Colleagues involved in the development agree that iTrent has changed Cafcass, but the team are far from finished as we continue to ask: What more can iTrent do?”