Introducing Onbase

People and Culture identified the need to move all of 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. The key benefits of having an electronic document management system are:

  • Ability to access files electronically in a secure controlled environment
  • Replace a majority of Word/PDF forms
  • Improved quality of HR 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:

Phase 1: Online appointment forms and Payroll onboarding forms

  • Replacing HRAP1 and other appointment forms, these will be created in Onbase and sent electronically to People and Culture
  • Right to work documents uploaded electronically
  • New appointments via resourcing will automatically pre populate applicant information to reduce duplicate keying of data
  • Payroll forms, prepopulated with the appointees details, are sent electronically directly to the new member of staff
  • Forms directly sent to HOD/HOS (or delegated authority where applicable) for electronic approval and then work flowed to People and Culture for processing
  • Notification at each stage and final confirmation of when People and Culture have completed the record and the contract sent

Key dates

This phase was launched in 2021, the links to launch the new appointment forms and user guides can be found below. People and Culture will no longer accept the old PDF appointment forms, but we will work with you to support you in using the new Onbase forms. Targeted notifications was sent to user groups with further details on how to access the forms and support available.

Guidance and link

As part of our continuing support for People and Culture related processes, we are offering drop-in support sessions for any member of staff who regularly uses and submits Onbase appointment forms.

This is an opportunity for you to come along and ask us about any questions you may have – how the appointment forms work, right to work checks, entering working patterns or the process of issuing contracts and payroll forms.

No questions are off limits, and we are here to support you so please see full information below and feel free to share this with anyone you think may find them useful:

Ongoing developments

There are none currently for phase 1.

Phase 2: Pathway to Permanency and Annual Review

Phase 2 has taken the paper based academic agreements and moved them to an electronic format, the forms utilise information we already hold about the individual and take the draft form through the process, gaining approval at each stage until it is submitted to ASC. The form builds over each stage in the process, allowing targets to be updated at each stage before submission for the final stage of achieving permanency. The form also can be added to creating one seamless document that will support the permanency and any promotion application without the need to duplicate data. There is no change to the process or content of the agreements, just a move to an online process.

Phase 2 captures information from within iTrent and the Research Information System to ensure that information held in one University system can be used where required in other systems. The system holds the key individuals that will support the academic in completing the agreement and achieving permanency.

The annual review process will also move to an online process, allowing the link between other systems to pre-populate key data allowing those who are completing the form to focus on the content.

Onbase uses key information currently held within iTrent, and the committee information, to ensure the information is passed directly to the decision makers in the process and notifications are provided to each stakeholder throughout the process.

  • Paper based process changed to time saving electronic process utilising information already held on individuals to avoid duplicating entries
  • New academics will receive their P2P agreement two weeks after their start date automatically
  • A central record of the Academic Advisor will now be held for each new academic
  • Each stage is approved and finally send 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 Advisors, HODs and Executive Deans for feedback prior to submission to ASC
  • One seamless document to support the permanency and/or promotion application process
  • Information taken from the Research Information System to ensure accuracy and to eliminate duplication
  • Annual review process to be completed online with pre populated fields
  • 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

Key dates

This phase of the project has had a soft launch over the last few months; we now have agreements at each stage of the process. We have been working with individual academics and HODs to move this these forward. A separate page for Onbase, alongside the supporting documents and guidance for P2P, will be available with user guides and support for each group that are accessing the system in this phase.

Annual review submissions are to be developed for launch by the new academic year.

Ongoing developments

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

  1. Allowing feedback via notes through the Onbase system
  2. Giving access to HOD and Executive Deans to be able to retrieve all of their agreements into one place, showing the stage of the agreement.
  3. Updating the essential training, moving from individual courses to one essential training course
  4. Providing key information to line managers through People Manager, of the stage of agreements and recording the outcome of each decision point.

Phase 3: The leavers process, contract change instructions and manager access to files

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

Key dates

Phase 3 will be available for the start of the new academic year.

Contact or Support

This page will be updated as we continue to work with the system and listen to feedback from users. There are a number of places you can go for support or for an update on the project please refer back to this page.

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

If you require any assistance with P2P in Phase 2, or have any general issues or queries, please contact