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Business Challenges
Interim NHS People Plan

Operational Alignment

In order to maximise the benefits to your organisation, it's essential you align your operational processes with recommended best practice, and with your overall expectations from the ESR solution. The information below provides you with a high level overview of the ESR functionality which is relevant to providing efficient back office functions using ESR.

  • + ESR HR Best Practice

    Back office improvements in productivity and efficiency can be realised by using ESR best practice processes.

    Underpinning ESR best practice is the timely population of high quality and validated data at a single point of entry. This enables accurate management information to be available across your organisation to support business planning and decision making. Critically, this also means data is input and managed at the most appropriate point – typically employee or manager.

    HR best practice use of ESR can be found in the document ESR-NHS0078 - HR Best Practice Guide, located in the resources section, it includes:

    • Establishment Control through Workstructures administration
    • Recruitment processes including use of third party e-recruitment systems
    • Inter Authority Transfer (IAT) process and data transfer (including training competencies and OH data)
    • New starters process
    • Changes to records
    • Internal leaver processes
    • Terminations
    • Re-Hires
    • Business Intelligence reports
    • Data standards
    • Interfaces that can be used to enhance the core ESR functionality and streamline business processes
  • + Recruitment Administration and eRecruitment Interface

    ESR enables a streamlined recruitment process – from the identification of the initial vacancy through to the selection of suitable applicants to an offer being made to the successful candidate. The data that is captured during this process creates and builds the Employee Record.

    The recruitment module integrates with the online NHS Jobs service already in use in 95% of NHS organisations, and with other e-Recruitment systems. Vacancies can be transferred from ESR to the e-Recruitment system, where applicants can be short-listed and their details then transferred back to ESR, thereby removing the need for the duplication of data entry including matches to existing staff/internal applications. The module also integrates with Deanery systems via the Junior Doctor Interface to facilitate the junior doctors in training rotation programmes, thus ensuring a more streamlined approach to recruitment and quicker timescales from start-date to practice.

    To support the employment checking process the Standard Reference Request feature in ESR enables the IAT initiator to opt for the inclusion of a reference request as a part of the Inter Authority Transfer (IAT) process.

  • + Establishment Control

    Effective Establishment Control, along with good workstructures management ensures your organisation’ position hierarchy in ESR is reconciled with the general ledger and critically, the Full Time Equivalent (FTE) values are routinely maintained in synchronicity. This in turn ensures appointments are only made to an established post with funding and an authorisation to recruit. Good workstructures management is not only essential for managing your workforce establishment, but is also an important part of ensuring data quality to enable you to provide effective workforce reporting at local and national levels. For further information on how ESR supports the recommendations outlined in the Carter Review click here.

    FTE costing data held against the workforce positions as set-up in ESR can provide valuable information for organisations that are proactively managing their workforce requirements and associated staffing costs. Full utilisation of Establishment Control mechanism in ESR, as recommended by the Carter review, can significantly reduce the time that organisations spend reconciling their financial ledger with ESR whilst providing greater integrity of the recruitment process. For further information on how ESR supports the recommendations outlined in the Carter review click here.


    • Ability to monitor and report on vacancies accurately through the use of Establishment Control through ESR BI, providing quick and easy identification of the true vacancy rate.
    • Can prevent over recruiting
    • The accurate maintenance of ESR workstructures allows other areas of ESR to be correctly reported and processed, such as sickness reporting and competency requirements
    • Employees will always report into the right cost centres with correct procedures in place
  • + Inter Authority Transfer (IAT)

    Inter Authority Transfer (IAT) is a unique and automated ESR process that removes the manual procedures associated with NHS Staff Transfer Forms and reduces the data entry needed following the appointment of staff from other NHS organisations.  It is also a fundamental enabler for the National Streamlining Programme, including Doctors in Training (DiT) and the Mandatory and Statutory Training Project (MaST).

    Running the IAT at the pre-hire recruitment stage should form part of your standard recruitment process for both general and medical recruitment. As part of this process a specific set of data is provided as followed:

    • Recruitment Team will receive vital information required for the production and issue of contracts, which would otherwise be required from the employee directly. A factual reference can also be requested at this stage.
    • Learning & Development will receive current training competences, enabling only the required training to be completed prior to or on induction.
    • The Occupation Health Team will receive the applicants Vaccinations and Immunisations record prior to starting, removing the need to repeat checks unnecessarily. They can also directly inform the Recruitment Team through the system, once OH checks have been completed and clearance given.
  • + Junior Doctor Interface

    ESR's Junior Doctors interface has a direct link with the new Trainee Information System (TIS), used to facilitate the Junior Doctors in training rotation programmes. The Junior Doctors Interface supports the Doctors in Training (DiT) Streamlining programme and its principles for a perfect process.

    Benefits include:

    • Reduced administrative burden on the NHS organisation and the junior doctor in entering and transferring recruitment and updated employee data
    • Facilitates the sharing of information for Medical Trainees with both ‘lead’ and ‘host’ employers
    • NHS organisations are made aware of the incoming and outgoing junior doctor much quicker (both for rotations and for recruitment)
    • Enables preparatory employment checks to be undertaken in a more efficient manner, such as the early running of the pre-employment Inter Authority Transfer (IAT) process
    • Improved data consistency and potential improvements on data quality within both ESR and the HEE local office/Deanery systems
    • Consistent local and national reporting via ESR Business Intelligence (BI) reporting tool, the ESR Data Warehouse, and also HEE Local Office/Deanery System reports
    • Improved morale in junior doctors as they do not have to complete the same degree of new starter information each time they move to a new employing organisation
    • Improved working relations between the NHS organisations and the HEE local office/Deanery organisations, as the two organisations will be able to share the workload of updating relevant employee data
  • + Occupational Health Data Flow

    The Occupational Health module records immunisations, checks and health clearance for applicants and employees. The immunisations and checks can then transfer from one NHS organisation to another via the pre-employment Inter Authority Transfer (IAT) process. This portable data negates the need for NHS organisations to carry out duplicate checks or inoculations for employees transferring within the NHS.

    As many organisations use third party Occupational Health (OH) systems to manage OH processes - with functionality beyond the scope of ESR's OH capability, there is an interface that enables ESR and OH systems to share employee and OH information, which enables the flow of pre-employment OH data.

  • + ESR Notifications

    ESR notifications are part of the internal messaging/workflow system within ESR, which can be accessed via the ESR portal. There are a wide range of notifications for employees and managers via Self Service that aim to provide key useful information direct to the user to help them manage their record, or to assist the manager in managing their team.

    As well as notifications to employee and managers, the system has a plethora of role-based notifications available to line managers and back office teams to support internal processes and to help maintain the ESR system and its data.

    There are 4 ways a notification is generated:

    • System generated notification for information or action to employee or manager
    • System generated notification for information or action to a role holder
    • Notification generated by an action performed by employee or manager
    • Notification generated by an action performed by an ESR professional user i.e. HR, payroll etc.

    Some ESR notifications have the ability to be delivered directly to a user’s email account. The notifications that can be sent by email are covered in the document ESR-NHS0252 ESR Email Notifications. There is the ability within some emails to approve, reject or request more information as long as your organisation is using or has an NHS Digital accredited email server. There are two levels of email capability dependent on email domain security:

    • Approval and summary emails – available to and other approved secure domains
    • Summary email - other email domains outside an approved list

    For further information on workflow notifications, please refer to the ESR-NHS0060 Workflow Notifications Guide available in Kbase.

  • + Employee and Manager Self Service

    Self Service offers organisations a valuable employee engagement tool, in which employees have the capability to interact with their NHS employment records including updating their personal data, viewing pay and benefit (Total Reward Statements) information, and managing their performance, learning and development. It is widely recognised that if staff feel valued and supported in the workplace by their line managers and the organisation as a whole, this further encourages them to deliver a high level of patient care that supports the values of your organisation.  

    Self Service provides organisations with the opportunity to reduce costs on administrative based tasks and supports local strategies around compliance, engagement, and wider productivity and efficiency plans. Self Service also supports paperless office strategies – both reducing associated costs and supporting environmental policies.

    Information held within ESR is presented to its users in an easy to read, pre-analysed format, in the form of portlets within the portal or as dashboard reports using Business Intelligence (BI). Such data is available at multiple levels across an organisation, including workforce strategic leaders having access to a ‘Management Dashboard – showing graphical data of key performance indicators in near real-time, on desktops or mobile devices.

    Organisations have the ability to set Automatic Internet Access for all their workforce, thereby allowing all their ESR users to automatically access their ESR portal remotely, enhancing the usability of ESR and promoting 24/7 access.

  • + Online Payslips and P60's

    With the introduction of the ESR portal and the payslip portal, the process for your workforce to access their payslips and P60's online has never been easier.

    The implementation of online only payslips and P60's will reduce the resources spent on organising and distributing, whilst at the same time reduce the associated data security risks of paper payslips being lost or sent to the wrong person or address.

    Benefits include:

    • Easy access to current and previous payslips via the internet and on mobile device
    • Easy access to current and previous P60's via the internet and on mobile device
    • Ability for organisation to set online payslip for workforce
    • Ability for employee to use toggle bar within the payslip portlet to go paperless
    • Ability for the employee to download payslips as PDF documents
    • Increase usage of the ESR portal
    • Reduced the risk of misplaced or lost payslips and P60's
    • Ability to access their payslips and P60's from work or home
    • Ability to view payslip is advance of pay day
    • Reduction in waste associated with uncollected payslips and P60's
  • + Self Service for Applicants

    The deployment of Self Service at a pre-hire stage for applicants enables you to empower your applicants to manage their own e-Learning prior to their start date. ESR can generate an ESR user account automatically at ‘Offer Accepted’ stage in the recruitment process. Once generated the applicant can access ESR to view planned classroom training and to enrol or undertake required training at their convenience as an applicant, thus enabling the applicants to work towards training compliance prior to their start date, thereby streamlining the on-boarding process.

    Organisations have the ability to set Automatic Internet Access for all their applicants, thereby allowing all their ESR users to automatically access their ESR portal remotely, enhancing the usability of ESR and promoting 24/7 access.

  • + Business Intelligence (BI) Dashboards and Reports

    ESR Business Intelligence (ESR BI) transforms your ESR data into visually relevant and appealing dashboards, accessible on desktops or mobile devices.  It contains a full suite of standard reports across the full range of functionality that ESR provides; enabling processes to be monitored and provides an opportunity to empower management with valuable workforce intelligence in a variety of forms to suit the user. It offers detailed business insight for managers to monitor their teams while directors, and senior managers and leadership teams get an effective overview of the entire organisation, allowing them to plan for future business development.

    ESR BI can also be used to produce integrated reports with specific data from other systems, and bespoke reports can be uploaded to the ESR Portal, to ensure that the target audience has quick access to information. Benchmarking and alerting are also key parts of ESR BI enabling the ability to target users and encourage prompt action where required.

    Benefits include:

    • A suite of standard dashboards easily accessible thus reducing the reliance on centralised reporting
    • Interactive dashboards allowing users to delve deeper behind the graphs to see the data that sits behind them, thus saving time from producing data in more than one level
    • Easy to use standard dashboards resulting in less time spent educating users
    • Greater understanding of data and workforce requirements at source
    • Improved timeliness of reports resulting in less time spent waiting for reports to complete
    • Reports can be exported into many different formats including PDF & Excel
    • Improved data quality and accuracy
    • Ownership of data at source
  • + ESR Portal Dashboards

    Workforce information is available through the ESR Portal and its associated Dashboards to your managers and your back office functions, providing an opportunity to empower management with valuable workforce intelligence in a variety of forms to suit the user. It offers detailed business insight for managers to monitor their teams while directors, and senior managers and leadership teams get an effective overview of the entire organisation, allowing them to plan for future business development.

    ESR BI can also be used to produce integrated reports with specific data from other systems, and bespoke reports can be uploaded to the ESR Portal, to ensure that the target audience has quick access to information. Benchmarking and alerting are also key parts of ESR BI enabling the ability to target users and encourage prompt action where required.

    Benefits include:

    • Manager dashboard with direct links to these areas and the ESR BI reports directly from the Portlets, thus reducing the reliance on centralised reporting
    • Interactive dashboards allowing users to delve deeper behind the graphs to see the data that sits behind them, thus saving time from producing data in more than one level
    • Greater understanding of data and workforce requirements at source
    • Empower your managers to have greater control of their workforce data and targets
    • Improved timeliness of reports resulting in less time spent waiting for reports to complete
    • Reports can be exported into many different formats including PDF & Excel
    • Ownership of data at source
    • View key performance indicators for absence, compliance, and appraisals and the ability to access key career information about their employees through the Talent Profile with the ability to produce PDF reports
  • + Oracle Learning Management (OLM) and Competencies

    The Oracle Learning Management (OLM) functionality in ESR provides comprehensive control of all the activities associated with the learning and development of your NHS staff. This includes the administration of available learning e.g. classroom based and e-Learning courses, and the recording and monitoring of learning achieved or in progress for individuals. It includes a full suite of dashboards and reports using ESR Business Intelligence (BI).

    Utilising OLM together with the competences functionality; Career Management, affords you with the ability to link learning to national competence frameworks or locally set competencies, together with the facility to apply the requirement for these competences to your employees based on the needs of their role, thus providing you with an invaluable workforce learning compliance tool.  Compliance information is generated and available to your employees and managers through the portal, and at organisational level through the Business Intelligence (BI) tool. The use of national mandatory competencies in ESR can help to facilitate a reduction in training and the duplication of training, that staff are required to complete when moving from one NHS organisation to another. This information is transferred using the Inter Authority Transfer (IAT) process, which aids the streamlined transfer of staff information across the NHS. 

    The use of Competency Requirements at your organisation would enable Learning & Development, Recruitment and an applicant accessing via Employee Self Service, to instantly know what training has been completed and when it expires, and importantly what training is outstanding.

    Benefits include:

    • E-Learning can be completed anywhere and at any time through the ESR Self Service functionality
    • OLM supports a blended approach to learning with organisations able to offer in one place, e-Learning and classroom based learning
    • Over 800 freely nationally approved, quality assured and centrally maintained e-Learning content as well as access to locally procured or created e-Learning available to play on PCs and mobile devices
    • Associate competencies with learning to automatically enrol employees onto learning and update their employee records on successful completion
    • Automatic notifications and emails to remind staff and managers when learning needs to be renewed
    • Certifications enable staff to view the status of their compliance based learning and see if and when it needs to be renewed
    • National competence frameworks including the Core Skills Training Framework (CSTF), Care Certificate Framework (CCF) and an agreed set of Statutory and Mandatory competence labels (MAND) to support monitoring of compliance levels against statutory and mandatory training
    • Reduction in staff undertaking unnecessary duplicate learning when transferred using the Inter Authority Transfer (IAT) process
    • Reports enable the demonstration of achievement and compliance for all staff within the organisation
    • Creation of tests to assess learner understanding, and to provide valuable feedback on whether business goals and workforce objectives are being served
  • + e-Expenses

    The NHS ESR Programme offers NHS organisations access to electronic expenses at no additional usage cost to its users, enabling online creation of travel and subsistence claims via ESR, which can then be transferred to payroll for processing.  This provides efficiency savings by removing time consuming processes for NHS Payroll teams, and removes manual processes for employees inputting paper forms.

    Efficiency and improvements to data quality benefits include:

    • Expenses are processed much quicker
    • Automation of time consuming back office processes
    • Real time status of employee claim status
    • The use of the bi-directional data flow to ESR saves time and ensures accuracy
    • Removes the manual process of inputting submission forms which removes the occurrence of manual errors
    • Removes duplication of claim submission
    • Provides a comprehensive audit trail which supports NHS Corporate Accountability and also helps prevent fraudulent claims
    • Automated workflow notifications enable rapid claim status updates
    • Reporting functionality allows for better management and control of staff expenses and can identify claim patterns
    • Ensures compliance with NHS specific criteria including vehicle registration and NHS specific expense categories
    • Provides post code recognition for calculation of mileage
    • Allows receipt images/details to be recorded
    • Web based solution means access from any device at any time
    • Ensures expenses policy is adhered to, reducing the time spent checking each claim
  • + Absence Management

    ESR allows staff absence to be recorded, monitored and managed with the associated payments and entitlements being processed automatically.

    Recording, monitoring and managing the times when your staff are away from work – including sickness, annual leave, special leave and maternity leave within ESR via Self Service or through the core solution means every aspect of calculation of entitlements and payment to employees is processed automatically, whilst minimising the amount of data entry needed.  This is supported by a wide range of reports accessible via Business Intelligence (BI) or via the absence portlet in the Managers Dashboard in Self Service, which enables local monitoring of absence by individual, staff group, organisational hierarchy.

  • + AfC Pay Progression & Appraisals

    The appraisal functionality available through Employee and Manager Self Service enables an organisation to manage the pay progression and end to end appraisal process online for all their staff.  This includes the ability to access a standard appraisal template or allows the organisation to create a bespoke template using HTML coding. The process includes the reviewing of competencies, objectives setting and enables the electronic transfer of the appraisal between the employee and manager.

    Pay Progression

    The 2018 framework agreement on the reform of Agenda for Change introduced provisions to move to a new pay system with faster progression to the top of pay bands through fewer pay step points. In response to these new provisions ESR functionality was enhanced to enable managers to undertake pay progression successfully utilising Manager/Supervisor Self Service or via a central function using core form functionality.

    For further information download: ESR Supporting AfC Pay Progression

    Performance Management Plans

    Performance Management Plan functionality works with the appraisal functionality and can be used to ensure that organisational objectives are successfully met, tracking them through the entire workforce hierarchy. The Performance Management Plan Admin URP is used to setup and roll out performance management plans to the entire workforce via Self Service, incorporating objective setting as well as appraisal tasks.
    The Line of Sight feature is a hierarchical representation of the alignment of objectives in an organisation. This feature displays objectives that are aligned or linked to each other in the objectives hierarchy. Line of Sight helps managers and employees to understand how their objectives have been cascaded down through the organisation and the association between objectives.

    The functionality also provides an electronic auditable process for the appraiser to withhold increment progression.

  • + Nurse Revalidation / Job Planning

    ESR provides a robust and tailored NMC Revalidation solution to support staff throughout their nurse revalidation journey using the appraisal functionality with ESR Self Service. This empowers nurses and midwives to take ownership of their own revalidation with support from their managers and the organisation, whilst overseeing regulatory compliance with the NMC.

    ESR provides a standard revalidation template with a standard Business Intelligence (BI) report and also provides the ability for organisations to produce bespoke templates and BI reports.  Professional credits can be awarded to training recorded on Oracle Learning Management (OLM), which supports revalidation evidence.

    Job Plan commitments can also be entered into ESR and are available to view in Self Service, with data fields available to capture current Job Plan commitments for Consultants and SAS Doctors.  A BI Medical & Dental Dashboard is available to enable comprehensive reporting.

  • + Core and Non-Core Interfaces

    There are a number of core and non-core data interfaces available that maximise ESR recruitment capability. Core interfaces are used to communicate with other national systems and bodies including the General Medical Council (GMC), Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS).

    ESR has a number of interfaces that are considered 'Non Core' and are available on a subscription basis to employing organisations. They are typically used to provide interface functionality with systems such as:

    • Rostering
    • Time and Attendance
    • Bank Administration
    • Occupational Health
    • Active Directory
    • Local Data Warehouse
    • Absence
    • Expenses
    • Shared Service Providers

    Organisations considering implementing an interface with a third party system should, in the first instance, raise a Service Request for the attention of ESRNHSINT. Upon receipt of a service request, we will contact you to discuss your requirements, advise on appropriate interfaces and provide specifications.

  • + Employee Relations

    ESR Employee Relations functionality records information relating to grievances and capability. It has full reporting functionality providing the ability for you to report on all of the employee relations data recorded, including an analysis on Equality and Diversity in relation to ER cases. This can help you to identify trends or areas of concern for your organisation and can support you in producing annual reporting requirements.

  • + Data Quality

    Poor data quality can impact upon every aspect of the workforce, from vacancy management to leaver analyses, employee details to aggregate staff reports and from pay to pension.

    Workforce data in ESR is clearly important to each employee and each employing organisation, but it is also increasingly significant to a variety of national bodies - some of whom have direct access to it via the ESR Data Warehouse, for instance the Department of Health & Social Care, NHS Digital, the Care Quality Commission. Every aspect of managing the NHS relies on workforce data.  Organisations also have a legislative responsibility, e.g. General Data Protection Regulations recently introduced in May 2018, to ensure a subjects (employee’s) data is both accurate and is managed/processed correctly. Across many parts of the ESR solution – including Self Service for employees to access and manage their own data quality, ESR is a key enabler to organisations being legislatively compliant.

    ESR provides functionality to assist in improving data quality:

    • Utilising the Inter Authority Transfer (IAT) process - providing a full employment history and reducing the need to re-enter data already available
    • Access to Self Service enables data to be viewed and updated at the point of source in a timely manner, with less points of contact, reducing errors or loss of forms
    • Implementation of interfaces to ensure no duplication of data entry
    • Implementation of Establishment Control provides an opportunity to cleanse ESR of unnecessary positions and ensure workforce spend is controlled
    • Utilise ESR Business Intelligence (BI) to report on data errors for cleansing

    For further information on how ESR supports good data quality click here.

For detailed functional information, case studies and implementation guides please click on the 'Resources' icon located at the bottom of the page under 'Latest Resources'.

To access key information and resources to support Operational Alignment click on the icons below

Business Challenges

When reviewing your back office functions, processes and the service they provide, the following questions are relevant and can be supported by using ESR:

  1. Are you driving efficiency within your back office functions?
  2. Have you reviewed the workforce services provided by your back office functions and compared these to the functionality available by using employee and manager Self Service and ESR learning management?
  3. How lean are the processes within your back office departments – for example, have you reviewed the end-to-end processes to remove duplication and/or unnecessary steps? Could this be improved by using ESR to ensure data is captured at source?
  4. Do your back office processes rely on paper-based or other e-media based systems? If so, can these be displaced by using ESR?
  5. Is your recruitment process streamlined so as to minimise on-boarding time and effort?
  6. Do you have regular communication between your back office functions in relation to ESR usage and its development within your organisation? Is this effective and does the group have a clear remit and direction?
  7. Have you recently reviewed your on-boarding and induction process for new starters from the perspective of the organisation’s processes, and from the new starter’s experience?
  8. Is your organisation involved, or aware of the national streamlining projects?

Latest Resources

To discuss the functionality available in ESR, to undertake an ESR Assessment on your current and potential usage, or for further information, advice and support please contact your local NHS ESR Functional Account Manager.