Case Study: How esa saved 60 days each year

Executive Serviced Apartments was expanding rapidly and needed HR and Payroll software to transform their working.


About esa

Executive Serviced Apartments (esa) is an ‘accommodation solutions provider’ with a portfolio of modern and stylish 1,2,3 or 4 bedroom serviced apartments across the UK and a network of tailored accommodation options globally for corporate business travellers.

Holding two 2016 Finalist positions at the Personnel Today Awards for HR Director of the year and HR Impact, esa’s HR Director Dan Creed took the business on a journey to ensure the high-quality service enjoyed by esa’s clients was also experienced by esa’s internal customers too; its employees.

ESA Apartment Image
  • 200+ Employees
  • 87% Faster Payroll Processing
  • 100% Reduction in errors

The Challenge

esa was expanding rapidly and the HR team was falling behind with a heap of paperwork and excel spreadsheets. Everything was manual, from timesheets to leave and providing information to their third-party payroll provider. It was all taking too much time and there was no timely HR data enabling the business to plan ahead or think strategically.

It was agreed that it was time for new HR software to automate routine HR processes, to empower managers and employees and to transform the way of working; not just for HR but across the entire organisation. 


Dan Creed is an experienced HR Director and has implemented a range of HR and Payroll solutions over the years so was an ideal choice to head up the project. He needed a cloud-based HR solution which could be implemented quickly to meet esa’s immediate needs and could be configured over time as the business evolved. He was also after a supplier who was prepared to take time to understand their business model and work with them as a strategic partner. This relationship was very important to esa and is core to their business model and set of values. 

Payroll was one of the key headaches for esa. It was very time-consuming, pulling together the monthly payroll data (timesheets, overtime, statutory pay etc.), checking the data, and then submitting it to their payroll bureau for processing. esa knew that a payroll bureau is a cost-effective way of running payroll for less than 200 employees, but based on their growth plans, decided this would be more effective and efficient if brought in-house.

The Solution

Dan’s previous experience with HR and Payroll software gave him an understanding that web-based solutions which were designed and built in early 2000 were well established in the market, could be implemented quickly and would meet their immediate requirements. However, they were not 'future-proof' and did not provide him with the level of flexibility that he needed to fine-tune the way that he manages HR now and in the future. He was not just after an HR system but wanted to improve the way of working across the entire organisation to help motivate and empower employees.

Payroll was another issue. Finding the right HR solution was a challenge on its own, but one which had a built-in payroll engine made this even harder.

XCD set core HR with manager and employee self-service live within two months. Project and later implemented modules for Expenses, Timesheets, and Performance Management. The Timesheets solution, in particular, aimed to save esa a significant amount of time and resource, replacing the current heavily manual process of transferring data on hand-written sheets into Excel with a modern cloud-based solution that all employees could easily use.

The next step was Payroll. esa were part of XCD’s pilot payroll programme having in which mirror payroll was run for three months; the main challenge was providing accurate data for each pay run given the complexity of employment patterns that esa need to maintain for their employees. The tax calculations were exact.

The Results

With the numbers working, esa took the step of severing the link with their existing payroll bureau and brought payroll in-house. The time taken for esa’s payroll manager to run payroll reduced from an astonishing eight days to one.

Dan Creed, HR Director at esa said:

“This is HR that works for you. XCD took time to understand our business model, shared our vision for growth, and were in the process of building their own UK payroll engine. It was just a matter of getting the right commercial terms for a 10-year strategic partnership and then putting them to the test.” 

Exceeded Expectations

“The journey has been fantastic with XCD, we have worked extremely well together and the product has exceeded expectations on our part. Colleagues across our business mainly work remotely across the UK and bringing in such fresh technology works brilliantly both for HR and HR metric reporting but more importantly as an engagement tool for the whole business.”

Dan Creed
HR Director, esa

XCD Products Used

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