With an ever-growing list of responsibilities and priorities, it can be tempting to automatically renew your existing contracts for another year without undertaking a review of the service provision. For this reason, many schools choose to stay with their current provider even when they are dissatisfied with the level of service.
Although sticking to what you know may seem like a low-risk option, it can result in an increased workload, unhappy employees and increasing costs!
Here are our top 5 tips for putting yourself in an informed position before you run out of time to change provider:
1. Give notice even if you have no plans
Check your notice period as most providers require you to serve between 3-6 months’ notice. To give you more options, even if you aren’t yet sure whether you are going to change your provision, it can be advantageous to serve notice with your current provider. This allows you to scope the market with confidence and you can always withdraw your notice if you decide to stay with your current provider.
2. Review your current Service Level Agreement (SLA)
It is good practice to review each contract on an annual basis and to carefully consider whether any changes are required to meet the evolving needs of your school or multi-academy trust.
When comparing providers, comparing on cost alone is not sufficient. You should ensure you are aware of what is included within the SLA and what is not. Anything outside of the SLA is likely to be subject to a further charge. Therefore, be clear on the level of service that your school or multi-academy trust requires and undertake a comparison of each service specification to truly understand what is covered to ensure the SLA meets your current and evolving needs.
3. Check whether you will be charged onboarding and exit fees
You will find that some providers, unlike EPM, charge additional onboarding, admin or data transfer fees. Therefore, check the Service Level Agreement carefully to ensure you are aware of any additional costs that you may incur throughout and at the end of your contract. It would be prudent to ask for a copy of the contract well in advance of making any final decisions to avoid you incurring any hidden fees.
4. Consider combining your HR and Payroll Services
When changing either HR or Payroll Provider, it may be useful to consider combining providers for both services. There are countless benefits to managing HR and Payroll via the same provider. Managing both services through a single provider allows you to manage all queries via a single point of contact; preventing the use of multiple systems and saving countless hours of duplicate data entry. When reviewing new HR providers, consider whether they provide Payroll & Pensions in addition to HR but, ensure that their service provides you with everything you are looking for, don’t be tempted to combine both services if the service offering doesn’t quite hit the mark. You can find out more here.
5. Consider return on investment and discuss costs
When researching providers, if one provider is offering a quotation far lower than your provider of choice, firstly consider if the specification warrants the higher cost and will inevitably result in savings elsewhere. Secondly, have an open conversation with your chosen provider about the cost. They may be able to make adjustments to the SLA or reduce the price if you commit to a longer-term contract.