Jane Sleight 15 years with Dataplan

22nd January 2023 not only marked Great Grimsby Day but also saw the 15th anniversary of Jane Sleight joining the Dataplan family.

Following a presentation of flowers, and a very large cake, to Jane by Stewart Waddell (Operations Director) and Adele Blackham (Client Services Director), I caught up with Jane to ask her about her career journey and the changes she has experienced in her payroll career.

Jane started her career with British Rail as a fresh school leaver on the YTS (Youth Training Scheme). She tried a number of different roles during this training period before settling on payroll.

She explained, "Back then, there were no computers, and payroll was calculated long hand. It was time cards, and wages were delivered by hand. As a 17-year-old, I had to go with my colleague in a bright yellow British Rail van to the signal boxes with briefcases full of cash to pay staff. Times have certainly changed regarding payroll security.”

Helping to launch our Education service

In 2008, after 22 years with British Rail, Jane joined Dataplan, working alongside Stewart Waddell in payroll processing. The Dataplan team was much smaller, around 12 people, and it was just starting to deliver payrolls to the education sector. Jane joined a small team of 4 people in our fledgling Dataplan Education division.

Stewart Waddell explained, "Jane was instrumental in getting Dataplan Education up and running. Our first group of schools highlighted the differences in education payroll and pensions.

Jane’s experience working with a public sector payroll at British Rail, meant she could help us unpick the issues and was instrumental in Dataplan developing and delivering a specialist education payroll and pensions service.”

15 years of change

When asked about the changes she has seen since joining Dataplan, Jane commented, “The growth and size of Dataplan is an obvious change. From about 12 people when I first started, we are now at around 160 people and have dedicated pensions teams.

My role has also changed. Although I still process payrolls, I also now get involved in many different areas. I am a troubleshooter and work across the business where needed, especially looking at our processes and software.

In my previous role at British rail, we moved software from a British Rail legacy system to a third-party software solution. We had to get the new software aligned with British Rail Terms and Conditions, which was a challenge!

When I came to Dataplan, I had an understanding and experience of migrating large numbers of employees to a new software platform. That experience came across with me and meant I was a natural fit on software projects."

Keeping the Dataplan culture

Dataplan may have changed and grown in the last 15 years, but something that has stayed the same is the Dataplan culture and attitude. As Jane explained, “We all look out for each other. This is one of the best things about working at Dataplan. No one stands by and lets someone else struggle.

I have always told anyone who works with me to try and figure it out yourself, but if you have spent more than 20 minutes and have yet to solve it, you're wasting your time so ask someone. People must try and find solutions for themselves but not be afraid to ask their colleagues for help. This is a powerful part of the Dataplan culture.”

The future of payroll

It is evident the payroll industry has changed a great deal since the days of driving around with vans full of cash, so I asked Jane what changes she thought the next 15 years would bring.

“It will become a lot more automated. There will be less of a need for manual processes, and the software will allow for more self-service by clients.

We are already seeing more automation and integration with other software, such as time and attendance packages, and I think this will continue.

This will change the role of the Payroll Processor. There will probably be fewer of them, but they will be there to answer queries, offer advice and sort out problems.

When I look back to what it was like when I started, it was all long hand ad long-winded and paying out at a pay office window. However, payroll has seen significant change during my career, and this rate of change is continuing and, if anything, speeding up."

Written by Alison Clynes
Published on January 26, 2023

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