Why CW Fields “clocked in” to 2024 with SenseHR

This is how bespoke joinery CW Fields abandoned their outdated HR software and turned to SenseHR for a more modern and joined-up approach to HR technology.

John Crowley • 

CW Fields has been a successful family-run business for over 100 years. A leading manufacturer of high-quality doors and bespoke joinery since 1918, CW Fields deliver exceptional projects for high profile exhibitions, museums, research facilities and educational institutions throughout the UK – including the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, as well as the London School of Economics.

In 2017, CW Fields took on a new HR system to service their growing workforce, in a move that they hoped would bring them into the world of modern workforce management. But while this move was certainly a cut above spreadsheets, as time went on, they began to suffer growing pains.

“Our time clocks didn’t work properly with People HR, and both companies kept passing the blame”

“We were using People HR to manage our employee records, which was fine enough at the time” explains HR manager Francesca Dalla-Riva. “But the cracks started to show around 2020, when we tried to integrate their clocking in hardware for our employees.”

The problem, according to Francesca, was that the time clocks offered by People HR were actually owned and operated by a totally different company – and the integration wasn’t as smooth as their sales people had made out.

“Even though the two companies had some sort of partnership, they weren’t joined up in any meaningful way” she says. “Nothing seemed to work right, no matter how many ways we tried to customise it. And whenever we asked for help, each company would blame the other, and claim no responsibility for the issue.”

“I had been following Sense for 18 months before getting in touch”

Fed up of being passed from pillar to post, Francesca knew that she needed to keep an eye out for a new HR system – one that would actually integrate with her clocking in machines. And if possible, one that would even be suitable for her remote and field-based workers, who couldn’t always engage with the existing HR system during site visits and project days.

“I was aware of a company called Sense, that had started building a very interesting HR product around 2022 I think it was” Francesca recalls. “I followed their progress for about 18 months before getting in touch. Each time they announced a new feature or updated their website, I found myself getting more and more excited about what this could mean for the team here at CW Fields.”

The biggest attraction for her, was the fact that Sense owned all of their own hardware. They built their own clocking in machines, they could automate timesheets based on location, and they even had a dedicated badge that could be useful for her lone workers and field-based teams.

“We were eager to switch, so we let our previous contract expire in the background

When SenseHR launched in September 2023, Francesca wanted to get in touch right away – but she held off, because she wasn’t sure what sort of contract she was tied into with People HR.

“I had heard reports of people struggling to leave, due to hidden terms and conditions that kept them locked in for up to three years” says Francesca. “Luckily, our team had managed to avoid anything too lengthy, and we were able to plan our exit for early 2024.”

As there was only a short length of time remaining on her contract, Francesca decided to get started straight away. She switched to SenseHR and let her People HR contract expire in the background.

“The hardware is owned by Sense, so everything works right out of the box

“I’m so happy to have a modern HR system that delivers hardware that actually works” she says. “SenseHR provided me with their own Sense-branded clocking in machines, which we use for our staff at our head office in North Lincolnshire. And because the hardware is owned by Sense, we don’t need to worry about whether we’ve got the integration set up correctly – everything works together as intended, right out of the box.”

Francesca is also considering adding a handful of Sense Badges into the mix, for her field-based lone workers. She says that this will help her company keep track of where they are, and ensure they are staying safe while out on the road.

“But that is a project for later in the year” she laughs. “For now, I just want to enjoy my brand new HR system and my lovely new clocking machines.”