As the UK’s leading provider of on-campus student accommodation, UPP is driven by a powerful social imperative: to provide homes for many thousands of young people at universities across the UK, many of whom are leaving home for the first time.
According to Chief Human Resources Officer Kelly Stafford, “This is the golden thread that runs through UPP, no matter your role or what level you’re at in the business. Looking after students the best way we can when they’re in our homes is really important to us.”
So when the time came to select a new technology platform at the heart of UPP, it was essential to find a solution that could contribute directly to ensuring the best possible care by generating better data and operational efficiencies.
As Kelly says, “We decided that Workday was the option that best delivered what we were looking for. And all our experience since then clearly indicates that it was the right choice.”
Some HR business processes aren’t always easy to replicate in a software system, but Workday enables us to do so in a way that works for us.
Chief Human Resources Officer
Accurate data supports fact-based decision-making for better care.
“When we selected Workday, a key factor in our decision was around data,” says Kelly Stafford. “This was a very important driver for us: getting a handle on the whole company’s data to help us make properly informed decisions was a fundamental requirement.”
As she continues, the concept of a single system with everything wrapped around it rather than separate modules was appealing from the first moment. “As soon as I heard about ‘the power of one’ I was convinced,” she says. “We really wanted that one source of the truth that would unify our view over finance, payroll and HR, and this has proven to be one of the key benefits that we get from Workday.”
The positive impact on how people work has been significant. “Now, we’ve got data that helps us understand so much more,” Stafford says. “Where we need to make decisions around our resourcing structure, for example, whether or not we’re overly reliant on overtime, how can we more efficiently fill gaps in our resource plans, what we are really spending and where we’re spending it.
“Now we have immediate access to all this information and much, much more.”
Building a great user experience on ease-of-use, accuracy and fairness.
In Kelly Stafford’s words, “If our people are getting a great experience by working at UPP, then they’re giving our students a great experience too.”
Part of this experience comes down to Workday’s ease of use. “This is really important,” she continues. “Our choice had to be visually attractive and easily adaptable to different devices, technologies and users, from our remote workers to managers who are completing business processes within the system. Workday scores in all these areas.
“Even more essential, it helps with fairness too. Before Workday, our cleaning staff used to complete paper time-tracking sheets on a daily and weekly basis, and they were sometimes not paid correctly. Now, with the time-tracking module, they can just check in and check out: the information feeds straight through, and payments are accurate and on-time.”
There is a powerful positive impact on management too. “Managers have time back to do things that are more important than processing admin and paperwork, like responding to and looking after students’ needs.”
Kelly reflects on tasks that are now easier than ever before. “Even the end-to-end process of onboarding a new member of staff into the business and getting them set up digitally has been revolutionized,” she says. “And that’s just one of many examples.”
Continuous development and constant support.
Kelly Stafford and her colleagues appreciate the fact that, unlike many other systems, Workday was developed using the software as a service (SAAS) model, enabling continuous development.
As she says, “We wanted something that we didn’t have to overly customize, that would work now and into the future and would be maintained and kept up to date. And that’s exactly what we have.”
She’s particularly impressed by how the community of fellow Workday customers works together.
“The way in which Workday encourages us to learn about the system and connect with other people is new to me, after around 30 years of bringing in HR systems,” she says. “As we’ve gone along, we’ve recognized just what a powerful resource tool it is. We’ve made some really good connections, and we’re all learning from one another.”