Case Study - WfIS ESR Wales Self Service Project

Project Lessons Learned

Lessons learned purpose and objectives

Throughout the NHS Wales ESR Self Service (approvals not required) implementation, lessons have been learned and opportunities for improvement have been discovered. As part of a continuous improvement process, documenting lessons learned helps the NHS Wales WfIS Team discover the root causes of problems that occurred and steer organisations to avoid those problems. Data for this report was gathered by using project lessons learned record sheets and analysis of queries and issues raised via the NHS Wales Call Management system (ActionPoint). This detailed log has been used to develop a frequently asked questions (FAQs) document. This has been supplemented by user guides, training and regular communication updates.

The objective of this report is the gathering all relevant information for better implementation of future projects, to prevent or mitigate known risks and enable a streamlined, effective implementation using lessons learned, project templates and training materials.

Lessons learned questions

  • What worked well or didn’t work well either for this project or for the project team?
  • What needs to be done over or differently?
  • What surprises did the team have to deal with?
  • What project circumstances were not anticipated?
  • Were the project goals attained? If not, what changes need to be made to meet goals in the future?

Top 3 Significant Project Successes

Project Success

Factors That Supported Success

Self Service rollout on target to achieve 60,000 ESR Self Service users in NHS Wales by March 2015

Clear vision and executive commitment from Welsh Government and NHS Wales

Senior management engagement and support

Robust roll out plan with identified local leads supported by a centralized all-Wales Workforce Information Systems Team (WfIS)

Removal of third party systems and paper based processes

Senior management engagement and support

Executive support from Audit and Finance Directors

Commitment from key stakeholders including Payroll Services

Improved financial control, visible audit trails and validation of signatory lists

Engagement with Audit and Finance Directors

Structured audits of self service implementation commissioned by Finance Directors

Development of an Audit Assurance Toolkit

Other Notable Project Successes

Project Success

Factors That Supported Success

Increased compliance visibility and improved data quality

Employee and Manager Self-Service roll-out

ESR Business Intelligence

Development of new payroll exception processes and modernised payroll roles

Full engagement and support with payroll at business outline case

A streamlined and consistent process for booking training and accessing e-learning

Agreement from each NHS Wales organization to implement Shared Training Centre status

Project Shortcomings and Solutions

Project Shortcoming

Recommended Solutions

Employees widely geographically dispersed across Wales often with limited IT access

Flexible and blended training solutions provided including:

  • Captivate e-learning modules developed
  • Follow up drop in surgeries provided

Lack of standardized Web-ex based solutions

An approved solution for NHS Wales

Employees reverting to paper based processes for making changes and not fully utilising self service

Rejection from Payroll for paper-based forms post-implementation, in line with agreed timelines

Culture of organizations not embracing electronic solutions

Engagement and support and selling of benefits

Project Lessons Learned Record Sheets







Engagement and buy-in from Executive board and senior management

Provided authority to proceed with implementation

Ensure senior management support and visibility at training sessions



Lack of initial audit and finance involvement with self service project

Delayed self service implementation by some organisations caused by lack confidence in project governance and financial controls

Engage audit and finance in business outline development and treat as key stakeholders throughout project

Commission local audit of self service roll in each organisation to ensure appropriate financial controls are in place


Improved financial controls and validated signatory lists

Assurances to executive board of safe and well controlled project. Executive support strengthened

Ensure hierarchy reflects financial delegation scheme with appropriate audit/finance sign off

Constant review and maintenance of self service hierarchies to reflect business changes. Allow for this resource.

Ensure managers understand how the supervisor hierarchy will work (some managers changed the structure when they realised it meant that various individuals would be able to see reasons for sickness etc )


Managers not responding to notifications and data not being updated

Annual leave, changes etc not approved

Stress the importance of acting upon notifications during training sessions

Ensure a robust supervisor hierarchy so that notifications are escalated appropriately


Delay in providing new starters with access to ESR Self-Service

Introduces risk of reverting to paper processes and incorrect payments

Implement ESR auto-enrolment as soon as the organisation is live with self service

Incorporate ESR Self Service into corporate induction



Development of payroll exception processes

Errors identified and rectified before pay run

Utilise parallel systems for a defined period (1 to 3 months) for assurance purposes

Develop process to intervene and provide support and education when errors have been identified by payroll


Removal of legacy systems

Ensures managers use new paperless system and processes

Develop process with Payroll to return any paper based changes as soon as the department is Live with MSS


Development of payroll issue log

Enables identification of errors & trends to inform support intervention/ training etc

Use of Action Point software to record errors, queries, issues etc and produce statistics on trends to inform targeting training or intervention


Reduction in errors 
Enhanced efficiencies and reduced rework  Develop process between payroll and project to feedback any pay errors resulting from ESR self-service and the parallel paper based processes 



Perception that ESR self service causes additional work for managers

Managers disengaged and resistant to using Self Service

Ensure ESR training objectives include benefits of self service as well as how to use ESR



Lack of capacity to train all 60,000 ESR self service users

Self service is not comprehensively used and employees revert to previous processes

On-going support for managers is crucial.

Provide guidance notes and frequent communications reminding employees of certain features and new developments

Use of departmental Champions and Super Users to support local training



Significant influx of queries generated about entitlement balances, service history etc experienced

Impacts time of ESR support staff who are required to deal with these queries

Develop a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document to signpost users (attached)

Use of ActionPoint software to manage queries


Incorrect set up of Annual leave accruals

Potential corruption of entitlement balance

A mass update of Annual Leave Hours 1 Accrual plan for the majority of employees is required, and ensure that this is included as part of the Payroll end to end processes

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