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March 4, 2010

Yorkshire Water builds benefits scheme

…With a little help from some User Group friends

By Vinod

Yorkshire Water has slashed development time and costs for a benefits system by calling on the help of the SAP User Group grapevine.

As a SAP customer, when Yorkshire Water wanted to introduce a salary sacrifice scheme for employees its first port of call was naturally SAP. But the Yorkshire Water IT team quickly realised that SAP’s Human Capital Management (HCM) module would be too costly to implement and involve a major change management effort that was beyond the limited scope and budget of the scheme’s aims.

Although it didn’t require a full HCM system, it was still a tricky scheme to set up. The idea itself was simple: staff could choose to put parts of their future salaries into benefits such as an occupational pension. But this required altering the SAP software to recalculate PAYE tax and National Insurance contributions and also needed to meet approval from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Rather than look for another commercial package, Fred Rennison from Yorkshire Water’s SAP reporting and support services team decided to seek advice from fellow members of the SAP UK & Ireland User Group.

“Talking to other people who’d been down the same route allowed us to prove to ourselves we could do it,” said Rennison. “By speaking to like-minded technical people it all made sense. People will always put on a glossy front-end, but the mechanics are the same underneath.”

He found other members that had set up similar schemes were happy to share screenshots and code explaining how they had overcome teething problems.

“When people know you, they are open to site visits and will take half an hour to talk through issues with you. You can’t expect that if you cold call someone,” explained Rennison.

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Seeing how other companies had tackled this issue enabled Rennison to visualise how their approach could be adapted to fit Yorkshire Water’s needs.

With a firm idea of requirements, the in-house team was quickly able to come up with a working solution that was approved by HMRC. And rather than an expensive HCM implementation requiring outside consultants to implement, Yorkshire Water’s only cost was its IT team’s time.

“I think we settled on it bringing 100x return from our annual membership [to the SAP User Group] of £500,” said Rennison. “And it gives us the confidence that when we next want to add to the scheme, we have a model we can work from.”

An added bonus was that working on the project so closely improved the IT team’s understanding and skills of SAP software, as well as brought them closer to business users.


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