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University of Bradford modernises finance function with AccessPay for seamless processing of payroll and tuition fees

“Getting this right is a big responsibility – we are processing Direct Debits which are a legal requirement and hundreds of salaries.”

Ben Petty, Finance Operations Manager, the University of Bradford, The University of Bradford

As a former payroll manager, Ben Petty understands the importance of using a digital bank connector like AccessPay…

The finance operations manager at the University of Bradford manages four teams including payroll and accounts receivable. AccessPay has helped both functions upgrade, with a seamless transition from their incumbent supplier.

He said: “We don’t have any issues with AccessPay whatsoever. The platform is intuitive and that suits us.

What does the finance team use AccessPay for?

AccessPay enables University of Bradford to make 1,600 salary payments via Bacs per month. The small team uploads payment files in three runs via the AccessPay Bacs software solution.

Payments for Accounts Receivable include tuition fee Direct Debits which Ben describes as ‘at the very heart’ of their funding. From month to month collections range from £7,000 to £30,000.

Elsewhere Accounts Payable use AccessPay for supplier payment runs, processed on a weekly basis, in various volumes.

What was your catalyst for change?

By 2017, it was time to modernise the university’s finance function to become cloud-based.

Instead of using a designated on-site computer to process payments they wanted flexibility, better UX and extra security measures.

The incumbent Bacs software was ‘very old fashioned’ in the way it looked and compatibility issues with the operating system were eating into the internal IT team’s time.

Ben said: “We had used our previous provider for a long time but they were insisting on an expensive upgrade, as a security update meant that the old platform was no longer supported.

“The first we knew of it was a very long email with lots of red highlighting – it felt like we were being evicted and we didn’t like that approach.”

The team decided to research the market and, after comparing three vendors, went live with AccessPay in early 2018.

“Implementation was really straightforward, it couldn’t have been easier” enthuses Ben.

Ben Petty, Finance Operations Manager

Why was AccessPay the right FinTech solution for you?

AccessPay connects University of Bradford’s finance and payroll back-office systems to Lloyds bank.

The new system is not only affordable but bespoke to their requirements.

For example, AccessPay built in a way for a second person in their team to check and approve payment files before they were submitted.

“This was really important because it adds an extra security measure, but it is also flexible so can be circumvented if we have resourcing issues” explains Ben.

“When the pandemic hit that built-in flexibility was such a blessing because we only had two staff with Smartcard readers, so if they were unable to work it meant we could still pay our staff’s wages.”

What is the main benefit of using AccessPay?

“The thing that puts AccessPay up there is the customer support, which is brilliant” reports Ben.

He describes how the support team came to the rescue out of hours in 2019 when an internal Windows update had caused issues with their HSM certificate.

“The university’s IT team were unavailable and we were panicking because our payroll run was due.

“Although it wasn’t an AccessPay issue we called the support team in the hope that they might have some advice and they actually took control remotely and sorted it out for us.

“I was so thankful for their help – it was only because of them that we could pay our staff on time.”

Ben also praises the pro-active approach of AccessPay’s customer support team who send regular release updates and progress reports by email.

“The technical team are very on the ball which helps us plan ahead and reassures me that everything is in hand. I appreciate that transparency.”

Ben Petty, Finance Operations Manager, the University of Bradford, The University of Bradford