Case Study – ELFS Shared Services

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Case Study – ELFS Shared Services


A flexible cloud-based service desk solution from Hornbill is helping ELFS to improve customer experience, work more efficiently and address a wider range of customer needs.

Client profile

Established in 2002, ELFS Shared Services (ELFS) provides financial and payroll services to 23 NHS client organisations throughout the country from its business centre in Lancashire. Its mission is “to continually innovate and consistently deliver high quality, cost effective, world class shared services to NHS clients and retain monies within the NHS”. In addition to payroll services, it offers business systems, accounts payable and receivable, financial accounts and helpdesk support. ELFS is an autonomous business division of Calderstones Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, a specialist learning disabilities services provider.





ELFS’s helpdesk team provides its NHS clients with support for all aspects of its services including invoice payment, employee expenses, salary payments and business systems. About 30 analysts, including a support desk team of seven, handle around 6,000 queries a month, of which 4,500 result in formal incidents requiring investigation. Support is critical for clients: rapid resolution of payroll queries, for instance, is vital to staff wellbeing.
ELFS’s original helpdesk system was fine for tracking calls, but processes such as customer communications were largely manual. When the helpdesk became more central to ELFS’s business, a more comprehensive solution was required. Giving users self-service facilities to log and track requests would free technicians to focus on resolving issues. Management could be improved by better visibility of support work. It made sense to look for a cloudbased solution, with operational work outsourced.
Hornbill’s Supportworks offered all the functionality that ELFS needed and was well able to cope with a non-IT helpdesk. Hornbill’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) implementation,, would meet the cloud requirement. It also offered the best price/ functionality combination of any product ELFS reviewed.
Implementation began in January 2013, and the solution was live on target that April. It now aids recording, triage and speedy resolution of all queries for the benefit of all clients.



The team is now able to provide an enhanced service to customers with the same number of people. The SaaS delivery model has provided flexibility in licensing and removed the need for investments in hardware infrastructure. Improvements in service have been acknowledged by helpdesk agents and service users alike. In 2014, the team won Hornbill’s Business Service Desk STARS award in recognition of its success against finalists which included a leading restaurant chain and major professional services firm.


Rapid, non-disruptive implementation

ELFS and Hornbill created a detailed project plan to ensure service continuity for customers during the transition. After testing the configuration in a dedicated environment, the team made the customer service portal available to customers who were regular users of the service desk, and later to the remainder. The change and its benefits were carefully communicated to customers. Most of the implementation work was handled in-house by the service desk team, fitting it around their day jobs. Hornbill provided support and advice.


An “always-on” self-service web portal

The self-service portal is a convenience for customers: it’s available 24×7 and provides an immediate response, with automatic status updates thereafter. An increasing proportion of users prefer it, though telephone service is still available. Users can also request a call-back at the time of their choice, a particular advantage for people like ambulance crews who work nights. Around 5% of all queries are already raised via the portal and there are initiatives in place to increase uptake. As one ELFS customer has written, “This is an excellent, user-friendly system. I can check current and closed queries whenever I need to.”


Automation and information enhance productivity and service

The self-service capability reduces the need for service desk staff to rekey data from emails, or field calls enquiring about progress. Automated workflow and email follow-up of incidents ensure everyone knows what they need to do when; triage to decide whether a query needs to be transferred to second line support is transparent and comprehensive, and there is automatic escalation of items approaching the SLA deadline. The knowledge base (also available to customers via the portal), plus an account database detailing each customer’s history, enhances the ability to resolve calls at first contact. The average helpdesk response time for complex queries has decreased from 120 minutes to 52 minutes. “The Supportworks system, with its email notifications, has definitely improved the communication and interaction between our staff and the helpdesk team,” says another satisfied customer.


Comprehensive management information – out of the box

It is now easy for management to get visibility of the service and so identify improvements: for example, it is easy to see what incidents have been raised, how they were triaged and when they were resolved. All this is done using Hornbill’s comprehensive built-in reporting package: there was no need for custom reports. The product’s reports scheduler has saved at least a day per month that used to be spent in creating management reports.


Adapting to new requirements

The Hornbill solution’s flexibility is enabling ELFS to branch out into new types of business: for example, one customer needs to ensure that staff using their own vehicles have the correct documentation and insurance. Hornbill and ELFS have worked together to show this requirement can be met by the existing system.




At a glance


ELFS Shared Services





SaaS architecture enables a full-strength, customisable service desk solution without capital investment or management overheads.


- Improved productivity: average response time for complex queries decreased from 120 to 52 minutes

- Self-service portal enables virtual helpdesk service during non-core hours, pleasing customers and saving agents’ time

- Workflow automation plus alerts and escalation ensure incidents are resolved in line with SLAs

- Knowledge base and customer information aid resolution

- Management reports are produced automatically, saving around a day a month

- Web enablement ensures secure system availability from any internet-enabled machine, enhancing business continuity

- No need to invest in or manage infrastructure

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