Bradford Teaching Hospital NHS Trust - Introduction to ESR Self Service & Business Intelligence

Bradford Teaching Hospital NHS Trust


Bradford Teaching Hospitals has 6,700 Employees over two main sites and smaller community hospitals. It is a teaching hospital with large numbers of rotating doctors in training, and a Research Institute with hosted employees.

Up until 2012, the Trust used a separate e-learning system with its own form of Self Service allowing managers to view individual employees’ training records, and did not use OLM or any form of Self Service functionality in ESR.

In 2012 the Trust made the decision to move to using OLM.  The previous training system allowed managers to view employees training records and enrol employees onto courses, so implementing OLM on its own removed functionality that managers had access to previously. The Trust therefore decided to rollout OLM, closely followed by ESR Supervisor Self Service (SSSHR) in order to give line managers access to employee records. The key focus at this point was to increase mandatory training compliance.

The Trust’s Requirements

The Trust’s requirements for Self Service were:

  • To enable managers to view employee records, in particular training, sickness absence and appraisals;
  • Avoid duplication with existing systems;
  • Ensure the system was as simple as possible to use.

Supervisor Self Service provides managers with the ability to view employee records and only change personal details. It avoids duplication with online forms and e-rostering.  The Trust did not have to worry about data being input during payroll close down or extensive training for managers on how to make pay related changes. 

It also provided the option to move to full Manager Self Service at a later date as the supervisor hierarchy work had already been completed.

Many staff already had smartcards for other systems, and employees had already received user accounts for e-Learning so there was just a small amount of work required to add the Employee Self Service URP.

The Project

A project team was set up which included representation from Workforce Information, IT, Education and a representative from each division.  A rollout plan was devised, taking forward one Division at a time.  Executive approval was given to the plan, enabling the project team to work with each Division to secure support and identify a nominated lead. 

The supervisor hierarchy was built by the Workforce Information team, and training courses were delivered to managers in each Division.  URPs for Supervisor Self Service were allocated to individuals following training attendance.  The process was repeated for each Division, and completed in 18 months.

The rollout was delivered without additional resources.  The ESR System Manager (1 FTE) acted as Project Manager; meeting with Divisions, planning the rollout, and providing training to managers and employees.  A Workforce Information Officer (0.5 FTE) built the supervisor hierarchy, allocated URPs, and linked smart cards. Using fast path, 80-100 employees per hour could be linked to supervisors.

Ongoing work has been required to ensure the supervisor hierarchy is kept up to date, particularly in relation to bulk changes/restructure.  To assist with this, the Trust has made the supervisor’s name mandatory on starter/change forms so that the hierarchy is maintained as far as possible by HR when forms are processed.

Introducing ESR Business Intelligence (BI)

ESR Business Intelligence became available soon after the initial rollout of OLM and Supervisor Self Service, and so this was incorporated into the project.  At that point, only one Division was live with Supervisor Self Service so it was first to undertake BI training; however, there was soon demand from other managers to use the functionality. As word spread through the Trust, the requests for BI training increased. The Trust targeted areas with specific issues that needed to be monitored and addressed, and the managers were grateful for a tool that could support them.

“People can see the value in BI being used in management roles.  Colleagues see it and ask for access to it, this is more powerful than mandating it”

 Lisa Fletcher, Assistant Director of HR

How was Training provided?

For Managers:

One and a half hour Supervisor Self Service training sessions were held for managers; 47 sessions held; 285 managers trained.  Each session included an overview of ESR and Self Service, a walkthrough of Supervisor Self Service, and an introduction to BI reporting.

Managers wanted more BI training in order to run their own reports, and a classroom course was created in conjunction with the Education Department using an IT training room.  This enabled managers to log onto the live system and look at their own data, giving a real view of the dashboards available in Self Service.  Specific queries could be raised with the Trainer, helping to encourage use once managers were back in their work environments.

The course was set up in the OLM catalogue enabling managers to directly enrol, with 52 managers trained by January 2015.

For Employees:

User guides were provided to managers to assist with showing Employee Self Service to their staff.  Half hour training sessions were provided for teams on request, which included an overview of ESR and Self Service, and a walkthrough of Employee Self Service.

Board Reporting

Workforce Board Reporting is now 90% completed using BI.  The same reports are used in the quarterly Performance Review meetings and are available to managers via Supervisor Self Service. This enables a consistent view - up and down the hierarchy and across the organisation.

Pat Campbell, Director of HR, said “over the past 18 months we have moved towards using the Business Intelligence dashboards as a core part of our workforce reporting.  Comprehensive workforce reports now go to the Foundation Trust’s Performance Committee, Quality and Safety Committee with a summary report provided to the Board of Directors on a monthly basis.  The dashboards have been instrumental in improving the quality of the workforce data available.”

Below is an example of some of the NHS Standard Dashboards the Trust uses to complete its board reporting:  



NHS Absence Dashboard:

  • Absence Timeline
  • Rolling Absence Timeline
  • Top 10 Absence Reasons

NHS Staff Movements Dashboard:

  • 12 Month Turnover
  • Turnover by Staff Group and Division
  • Maternity Rates

NHS Compliance Dashboard:

  • Learning Compliance

NHS Appraisals Dashboard:

  • Appraisals

NHS Staff in Post:

  • Establishment Control

“Using BI for board reporting has enabled more information to be provided easily and quickly. It removes the possibility of human error because the graphs and charts are created directly from ESR data.  Previously, via Discoverer, data would have been exported and manually manipulated increasing the possibility of errors being made.”

Simon Gardiner, ESR System & Workforce Projects Manager



The Benefits

  • There has been a significant reduction in adhoc requests for information;
  • Senior managers are able to see a consistent, real picture of the workforce across the organisation, particularly for sickness absence;
  • Awareness of compliance has increased across the organisation;
  • Managers have access to live compliance data so there are fewer queries and less confusion from staff that attended a course in the current month but are looking at data for the previous month;
  • Managers are better enabled to manage sickness absence within their teams;
  • There is consistent reporting across the organisation;
  • BI is intuitive; some users can use BI without any specific training.  The training provided by the organisation shows what is available rather than how to use it;
  • Data is available using just a few clicks;
  • Issues are quickly highlighted using the dashboards enabling more proactive and effective management decisions.

Paul Featherstone, Director of Estates and Facilities, said:

“I have been impressed by the range of workforce related information available to managers through the ESR Business Intelligence dashboards. We are currently working with the ESR System Manager to ensure all managers across the Estates and Facilities Directorate are fully trained to use the available data. It is already proving to be valuable in supporting the management of absence.”


“The key to BI is to keep using it.”

Simon Gardiner, ESR System & Workforce Projects Manager

  • Push against open doors, BI gives managers useful, easily accessible information and they will want it.
  • Use the dashboards available, you don’t need to build local dashboards, the information is already there - quickly and easily.
  • Be able to remotely access PCs.  As a small team this enables fast support and resolutions.
  • Ensure work structures are correct and that changes are actioned in a timely manner.  This can affect reporting, resulting in some managers having to manipulate their data or challenging the information.

Manager Feedback

Annette Binns - Assistant Director Estates

Annette looks after a team of 600 staff which, before a restructure, was just 60 staff.  The smaller group was easier to manage and keep track of information. Annette currently uses BI dashboards to monitor mandatory training targets, appraisals and sickness.

Annette explained that initially, because it was a new system, there was a feeling of information overload for some people and so only a few key people in the Division used it.  A significant driver to the uptake of BI was the appointment of a new Director who recognised the benefits for all in using BI and is currently mandating its use within the division.

“Because the dashboards can be monitored at Director Level, it is key that managers can see and understand the data at their level and are able to take action to make improvements.”

Annette Binns - Assistant Director of Estates

Annette likes BI because it is easy to use, with information available at the ‘flick of a button’.  Although a couple of the reports do take longer to run than she would like, the majority are there in seconds.

Su Coultas - Divisional Operational Support Manager (Diagnostics & Therapeutic Services)

Su looks after a team of approximately 1000 staff and her role includes governance, performance, targeting mandatory training compliance and investigating issues that arise. Su uses BI daily, not only to monitor training, appraisals and sickness but also to check contract information and analyse open-ended sickness, ensuring it is accurate and identifying any patterns.

Su uses BI for governance reporting which includes staffing or workforce issues, FTE, turnover as well as other areas. The Management Overview dashboard is used regularly for this.

Prior to the BI rollout, Su would use manual records to obtain most of the information she needed.  Using BI has enabled local targeting of compliance, for example; following a recent information governance incident, she was able to target staff training, using BI information quickly and easily and continues to monitor it ‘live’.

“The functionality is intuitive and you can easily find your way around.”

Su Coultas - Divisional Operational Support Manager (Diagnostics & Therapeutic Services)

Su also uses the BI reporting for monthly performance meetings and is able to react to changing priorities within her Division.  She is co-located with colleagues from other Divisions with similar roles to her own, and as they have seen Su accessing BI daily, they have taken an interest, enrolled on training and begun to use the system more.

Next Steps

A key aim is to ensure a consistent dashboard approach to workforce data is used across the organisation, ensuring there is a top to bottom view and a consistency of format which tells the story.

The Trust will be reviewing the few remaining routine Discoverer reports that are still used to see if these can be replaced by BI, and would like to share BI reports with individuals; e.g. for starter and leaver information, as to remove the need for use of Discoverer.

Ultimately, the Trust is looking to continue its strategy to maximise use of ESR:

“We are in a fantastic position from where we were but we don’t want to stand still.” Lisa Fletcher Assistant Director of HR