Fire authority extinguishes administration with SAP

West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service streamlines HR processes at 49 fire stations, with 2,000 employees, serving more than 2 million citizens

LondonWest Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service is overhauling its computer systems as part of a root and branch modernisation programme.

The Kirklees based fire service is implementing a SAP system that will deliver management information to assist with strategic decision-making and resource planning. For example, if a particular fire station falls below necessary staffing levels, the IT system will automatically locate stations with extra resource and transfer staff to stations in need.

The service is already recognised by the Audit Commission as one of the UK’s best run fire services. However, its chief fire officer is aiming for the number one slot by further improving how it allocates and manages front-line resources. Modernisation of its IT systems is an essential first step towards achieving this goal.

“The government has set ambitious targets to reduce the number of fire-related deaths in the home. In order to meet these goals, we must take every step possible to ensure optimal allocation of the fire prevention resources available to us. To this end, we spent more than a year documenting our existing HR processes and realised that we had spent far too much time in the past trying to reconcile various automated or semi-automated paper based systems,” said Phil Toase, Chief Fire Officer, West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service.

“We selected SAP because it provides an integrated solution that will improve the information available to the service’s management so we can better serve employees, ensure all fire stations are adequately staffed at all times and reduce costly administration across the service to free resources for essential frontline services where they are needed.”

HR processes to be managed by the new system include: station staffing levels, employee leave and illness, schedules for full and part-time employees, the handling of accident and incident management and analysis of employee data from across the service.

This will resolve what was a hugely time consuming process of calling around to stations across the service to find extra employees.

SAP will replace hundreds of arduously maintained Excel spreadsheets and outdated legacy systems, most of which have no integration or interfacing, and abolish many internal paper-based systems that provide too little information too late for the service to proactively address staffing issues. At present, information is often double and triple keyed centrally, a highly administrative and error-prone process.

The new integrated solution, to be implemented by SAP partner, EPI-USE, includes capabilities for human resources management, time scheduling and payroll, as well as providing manager self-service and employee self-service. This will enable employees to access the system quickly, easily and at their own convenience from computers in each station – or even at home via the Internet.

Additional benefits of the solution include:

  • Better management for working time, holiday entitlements and sickness absence for employees
  • Elimination of data inconsistency through full integration
  • Creation of one source of data for all HR statistics and local and national performance indicators
  • Statutory Compliance with the Working Time Directive, The Data Protection Act, the Disability Discrimination Act and the Race Relations Amendment Act/ Race Equality Scheme
  • The software will be rolled out in February, with Time Management, Health & Safety, e-Recruitment and Business Warehouse being key components of the solution. West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service will use education experts from SAP to train a team of super-users at the service who will in turn bring the thousands of users up to speed on the technology.

    “West Yorkshire’s fire and rescue service has been judged by the Audit Commission as one of the most forward-thinking in the country, a ranking shared only with London and Staffordshire,” said Sean O’Brien, Industry Director for Public Security, SAP UK & Ireland. “Their commitment to innovation as well as to the broader national drive towards fire service modernisation is demonstrated by rolling out SAP to streamline operations, and they are a valuable model for other authorities.”

    “EPI-USE is delighted to be chosen to implement the business solution at WYFRS,” said Steve Weir, Sales Director, EPI-USE. “The way WYFRS has gone about this evaluation, the commitment by the sponsors and the quality of people it has dedicated to the project all point to another successful SAP customer.”