People and Culture identified the need to move our staff files onto an electronic solution to improve efficiency, security, and accuracy. Work was undertaken to procure an Electronic Document Management system, the system selected was OnBase. The scope of the project was widened to include other business activity. This included, appointment forms, automatic creation of files, electronic workflow, and approvals. 

Key benefits of having an electronic document management system

  • Ability to access files electronically in a secure controlled environment
  • Replace a majority of Word/PDF forms
  • Improved quality of People & Culture files and consistent quality in the data held
  • Easy access via University network
  • Ability to integrate with other systems, such as iTrent
  • Create tailored forms and files to suit our business needs
  • Remove duplication of data entry for all those using the system
  • Able to brand and create company tailored documents, such as University pay scales embedded within the University of Essex appointment forms
  • Real time updates on progress of forms and information for key people involved
  • Intuitive forms utilising company specific data, reducing the need for manual intervention or error.

The project and benefits were broken down into three key phases as listed below.

Phase 1: Online appointment forms


Phase 2a: Pathway to Permanency 


Phase 2a has replaced the paper based Academic Development Agreements and moved them to an electronic format. The OnBase form utilises information we already hold about the individual, and builds over each stage in the process, allowing targets to be updated at each stage before submission for the final stage of achieving permanency, gaining approval at each stage until it is submitted to Academic Staffing Committee (ASC). There is no change to the process or content of the agreements, just a move to an online process.

Phase 2 utilises existing relevant data already held within iTrent and the Research Information System, which will support the academic in completing the agreement and achieving permanency.  By combining this key data and committee information in OnBase, it enables information to be passed directly to the decision makers in the process, triggering update notifications to each stakeholder throughout the process, incorporating the following benefits:

  • Paper based process changed to time saving electronic process utilising information already held on individuals to avoid duplicating entries.
  • A central record of the Academic Adviser will now be held for each new academic.
  • Each stage is approved and finally sent to ASC.
  • Targets are set and agreed with ASC, progress against the targets are updated throughout the process. Draft agreements can be work flowed to Academic Advisers, HODs and Executive Deans for feedback prior to submission to ASC.
  • One seamless document to support the permanency process (and cases where permanency and promotion are being applied for simultaneously).
  • Information taken from the Research Information System to ensure accuracy and to eliminate duplication.
  • Key information held in iTrent, and committee data passed directly to decision makers with automatic notifications sent throughout.
  • The link to the agreement is a personalised link, this can be accessed via HR Organiser.
  • HODs and Executive Deans can retrieve all their agreements in one place, showing the stage of the agreement.
  • The ability for HoD and Executive Deans to share agreements for discussion in senior meetings via an email created by OnBase.

Ongoing developments

We are working on feedback from users and some of the items in development are currently:

  1. Creating an individual dashboard for Academics to see the OnBase position of their agreements easily.  This will also contain the link to their agreement, replacing the current storage in HR Organiser.
  2. Ensuring the completion of all essential training requirements are recorded in the form, including How We Work at Essex boosters.
  3. Linking the appointment of Academic staff to the Pathway to Permanency (P2P) process in OnBase to ensure all new Academics receive their P2P agreement two weeks after their start date automatically.
  4. Now the automatic extension of 1 year due to Covid ends for all agreements started after 4 October 2023, the extension process is being created in OnBase.
  5. The promotion-only process (Phase 2b) and the annual review process (Phase 2c) will also move to an online process, allowing the link between other systems to pre-populate key data allowing those who are completing the forms to focus on the content.


For any queries that cannot be resolved using the User Guides, please contact

Pathway to Permanency Academics access OnBase using their personal link.

For more information on the Academic Permanency and Promotion process, please refer to the guidance webpage.

Pathway to permanency dashboard

Departments have access to a dashboard report in Tableau which shows the current OnBase position of all the Academic Development Agreements in their departments, and key dates in the process.

Phase 3: The leavers and contract change instructions and processes

In Phase 3 managers will be able to launch pre-populated leaver and change forms via People Manager to inform P&C of any changes to the contract, or to notify P&C of any staff who are leaving the University. Working on the same principles as the appointment forms, managers will be notified of when these changes are processed.

This phase is currently in development and information will be circulated and this page updated once the phase is complete.

Additional support

There are several places you can go for support, User Guides, or for an update on the project. Please refer to this page and the relevant phase.

If you need help with completing an appointment form, please contact either or

If you require any assistance with Pathway to Permanency (P2P) in Phase 2, or have any general issues or queries, please contact