Portland College


Portland College in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire is a national college for people with a wide range of disabilities. It aims to develop the potential of every pupil using personalised programmes including work experience, volunteering and training towards a range of accredited qualifications in subjects such as literacy, numeracy, sports, computing and horticulture.

Like many schools and colleges, Portland relies on one employee to run the payroll. With around 400 staff, this means a heavy workload for Sue Tazey, payroll administrator. Also, different members of staff are paid at different times, with around 150 teachers and others on a fixed salary which is paid monthly and the remaining 250 paid weekly.

The college has been relying on Earnie payroll software from IRIS Software Group to help run its payroll for almost 13 years. “I have been running our payroll since before we first implemented Earnie and looking back, I can’t imagine how we ever managed without it, “ Sue commented. “With payments going out at different times, things can get rather hectic, but Earnie Executive can handle this for us.”

Over the years, Sue has understandably seen a number of changes in the way the solution has been utilised.

“When we first implemented Earnie, I’m not sure if we were using it to its full potential. We contacted IRIS and arranged for a specialist to visit us for a ‘Best Use Assessment’ day. This was a great help as the IRIS consultant was able to highlight functionality in the software which we were completely unaware of and has made my life so much easier.

“Previously I had split costing between departments manually, but now this is all done for me with just a touch of a button.”

Now Portland College is using Earnie Executive fully, having implemented a number of additional modules to assist with its specific requirements.

“We added the Spreadsheet Import module so that we could easily import our timesheets directly into the software. We can also now send journal reports directly to our Exchequer accounting software. Both of these features save us a great deal of time and effort,” Sue added.

“I wouldn’t be able to cope with the workload I currently have without Earnie. It takes a minute to push a button and maybe an hour to double check everything, but this process would take hours and hours without the software.

“I can honestly say that there isn’t any functionality in Earnie that we don’t use now. It’s just exceptional. Everything is made so easy much of the work is done for me”

Saving time is not the only benefit Sue has achieved by using Earnie over the years.

“It’s not just the fact that it saves me hours each week and month,” Sue commented. “The software is accurate and very adaptable. It just keeps getting better as time goes on… And if we ever do have any issues we can contact support and they always do everything they can to help us through whatever problem we are having.”

Like 1.4 million other organisations in the UK, in April 2013 Portland College, had to make the switch to Real Time Information (RTI). RTI was widely viewed as the biggest change to payroll in over 70 years, but with the support it received from IRIS, the college had no problems making the transition.

“We attended a number of training seminars in the run up to RTI and these made the switch incredibly easy.”

The next major change will be automatic enrolment, the main component of the government’s workplace pension reforms. As with RTI, Sue is confident that, with support from IRIS, this shouldn’t cause any major problems.

“We’ve already planned to implement the IRIS Automatic Enrolment Solution and assessment module, so I’m sure we’ll be fine. We now know we can rely on IRIS to make sure we are prepared, and I can’t see this being any different

“We have also downloaded one of the free automatic enrolment guides from the IRIS website and attended the recent Earnie Customer Conference to find out more about what we need to do to prepare. We’ve got a consultant coming in again to help us set up the IRIS solution so we’re not too worried.”

When asked to sum up her experiences with IRIS and Earnie payroll software over the years, Sue commented: “There’s a clear reason why we have stayed with IRIS for so many years. I can’t fault anything we have had, from the software and training, to consultancy and support, everything has been outstanding. We couldn’t be happier and I couldn’t think of even considering moving to another software provider. I would definitely recommend IRIS to other people in my position.”

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