Essex Coalition of Disabled People (ecdp) is an organisation run by disabled people, for disabled people. As a result of the personalisation agenda, they process payroll for over 4,000 clients across the UK.
The issues we faced
The personalisation agenda aims to give disabled people choice and control over how their needs are met and they are each given personal budgets to control their support arrangements. Therefore, with the recent growth in the number of disabled people receiving personal budgets (and taking them as a direct payment), ecdp wanted to lead the way in combining efficient and effective payroll administration with sensitive customer service, ecdp recognised it did not, however, have enough back office processing capacity to handle the growing volume of clients.
The problem faced by ecdp was that the direct payment market is completely unique. Payroll is traditionally one employer who pays many people. At ecdp, they have many employers (their clients) who all have to pay one or a handful of people. Effectively, the way the ecdp payroll service works is the reverse of the usual practice.
The actions we took
ecdp wanted to work with a provider who understood the voluntary sector, and who were also market leaders in payroll services. We needed a provider who could not only support us, but also had the technical knowledge and experience to manage the required complexity of the type of payroll processing needed.
ecdp undertook an extensive research exercise to source a company to suit their needs. We found that Bond Payroll Services, an NCVO Trusted Supplier, has a strong track record in the voluntary sector and we were impressed by the willingness of Bond to work with us in developing an understanding of ecdp and the challenges faced by our clients.
Bond introduced their Payrite software to ecdp. This meant that they effectively became the organisation’s outsourced payroll department, eliminating the need for ecdp to carry out repetitive time consuming tasks in-house.
ecdp is user-led, which means that they are run by disabled people, for disabled people. Good customer service needs to understand the lived experience of the clients it supports and this has to be reflected in the back office systems. This is why ecdp chose Bond.
Bond were really up for the challenge and understood the need for flexibility and a creative approach. We worked in unison to bring about a system which put disabled people (clients) at the heart of the solution.
As global specialists in payroll, Bond also understood the challenges ecdp faced when trying to grow their business. ecdp’s relationship with Bond is built on mutual respect and trust, and has enabled both organisations to benefit from this by reaching out to the wider business community at events and conferences.
As with all new developments there were teething problems, with payroll deadlines having to be rearranged and the delivery of payslips and supporting documentation now being produced offsite. These were, however, taken in their stride by clients and staff alike.
Understand customer needs
If a provider takes the time to really understand their customer's needs and the unique market they are operating in, problems can be solved with minimum disruption to services.
Investing in good quality back office processing systems is always worthwhile
It’s important for Disabled People’s User Led Organisations (DPULOs) to invest in good quality back office processing systems, to ensure that their front office functions work well, and in the best interests of disabled people. The relationship plays to both organisations’ strengths.
Always keep your users in mind
It’s also important not to lose sight of why you are doing something. The direct payment market is unique, and it can be done well, with the right partnerships in place. Together, ecdp and Bond are growing, but more importantly, we are really making a difference to the lives of disabled people across the UK.