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Western Sydney University

Case Studies Payroll

When you add up how much time and effort is required to run a paper-based system, the result can be shocking. Characterised by double handling of documents and repetition of tasks, staff frustration aside, it’s a system that’s rife with human error. For Western Sydney University (WSU), which pays up to 6000 people fortnightly, the move to an integrated payroll system has been nothing short of ground-breaking.

The burden of manual processes

Spread across six campuses in Western Sydney, prior to implementing their new system, WSU employees were regularly submitting paper mileage claim forms to track their travel time. Ascender helped to customise an online solution that completely removed paper from the process and integrated into WSU’s existing systems.

“This change alone created incredible efficiency within the process,” says Arvinder Singh, Manager HR Systems in the university’s Office of Human Resources. “The system became transparent and easier for staff. It also became easier for their managers, who can now approve claims when off-site. Previously payroll staff were manually entering these claims, and they no longer have to do this. That’s just one example of how the system has improved our processes.”

The system became transparent and easier for staff. It also became easier for their managers, who can now approve claims when off-site.

Recognising the need for change

WSU had been using an Ascender product for more than a decade when Singh joined the business just over three years ago. And while the product itself had evolved significantly, WSU hadn’t rolled its new functionalities into their processes.

The huge amount of paper flowing around the organisation was not the only issue. Numerous processes were manual, the Ascender product was not integrated with other HR systems and the HR department was often asked to produce ad hoc reports for the business, rather than reports being automatically generated.

When casual academic staff were onboarded, their information was sent to payroll to process manually. Numbering in their thousands, the time this took and the inevitable mistakes along the way made this an unnecessarily cumbersome task.

“The number of ‘casual contracts’ added up to more than 10,000 every year,” explains Singh. “Multiply that by at least one hour of manual entry by various staff members at different touchpoints and you realise the problem was significant.”

Identifying the solution

After WSU flagged the issues with Ascender, specialists were sent to analyse where the inefficiencies were occurring and how the system could be customised to improve processes.

Online systems were developed for such processes as:

  • Mileage reporting;
  • Onboarding;
  • Bank account changes and much more.

Most importantly, the new systems were designed to integrate with WSU’s existing HR systems, reducing task repetition, increasing flexibility and transparency, and freeing staff to work on projects of greater value.

“We are in a business where attracting the very best staff is essential,” Singh says. “One way to do that is by word of mouth around how efficient our systems are, especially at the on-boarding stage. A good system makes a new staff member feel welcome and productive from day one. They never even have to go into an office to submit paperwork. Everything they need is available online. We have already measured improvements in staff morale, performance and efficiency.”

We have already measured improvements in staff morale, performance and efficiency.

“This has all been made possible because the system was customised to our business processes and requirements, rather than the other way around. Ascender’s product has allowed the flexibility to move to the next level,” says Singh.

“We have around 60 staff in HR and the new system has drastically reduced the amount of time they spend on admin. They now have the freedom and flexibility to concentrate on bringing in more staff development programs and other similar initiatives, rather than pushing paperwork through the system.”

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