In addition, we have fixed an issue that for the last fortnight has stopped users from downloading files in certain scenarios, most noticeably from within our web applications. If you continue to run into the issue after updating please let us know so we can investigate further.
Following the release of PICS 15.20.005.00 yesterday afternoon the majority of users are experiencing an error when opening PICS stating “Cannot open file IntercomFrame.css”, although PICS will continue to work without further issue if you dismiss the error. We have released PICS version 15.20.005.01 which resolves the issue, so please run Software Updates to get the new version of PICS at a convenient point. If your software is hosted by Pellcomp Software, it will be automatically updated tonight.
We have now released PICS version 15.20.005.00.
The major thrust of this release was a series of improvements to eAssessor for use with Apprenticeship Standards. Read the full article for a detailed breakdown of these changes.
It is now possible to view and enter a yearly overview of Off the Job Hours for learners directly from the Learner Information page of the ILR Form.
Visible for FM36 learners only, we show a list of Total Off Job Hours across all episodes by academic year, as well as a display of all individual Off Job Hours for the current episode.
From this screen, it is possible to enter a new total number of Off Job Hours for an academic year.
There have been some improvements made in CRM regarding the use of GDPR Tools. Organisations, Officers, Applicants, Learners and Activities will no longer be editable if they are not Live. A new System Status label has been added to each of these record details forms so that you can see what status each record has. If you would like to edit any of these records when they are not already live, you will need to first use the GDPR Tools to make them live.
We are pleased to announce that PICS 15.20 is now available for installation, should you be ready to do so. We recommend that you hold off from updating if you still have 2017/18 learners to add, as the process becomes a little more tricky after the update. Please see the help page Upgrading to the New Version of PICS for more details.
This major release includes changes to allow entry, export and reporting of 2018/19 ILR data, and a full list of changes in this build is available as usual.
Note: Having updated, when you first log in to PICS the 15.20 data upgrade and migration will start, and this could take anything from 20 to 45 minutes. Do not attempt to stop the upgrade process or you could corrupt your data. If you have any web apps installed, such as eAssessor, eApply, eTutor, eRecruit, then you’ll need to stop these before you run the update to PICS. If these applications are active it will prevent the PICS upgrade from running. For further assistance please contact Pellcomp support.
For customers with software and data hosted by Pellcomp, please see our blog post for how to upgrade to 15.20.
If you have and SMS account configured in PICS, you will now be able to send an SMS to Contacts and Applicants from within eRecruit. Each mobile number link display will be converted to a link:
Clicking upon one of these links will prompt you to enter the message you wish to send. Simply enter your desired message and click Send.
Applicant Permanent Deletion
To permanently (hard) delete an applicant from CRM, first they must be soft deleted. To see soft deleted applicants, you will need to select the option to show deleted in the search ribbon:
Go to Tools > GDPR tools and select Permanently Delete, from here you will be shown a list of all entries which can be hard deleted. Check those which you wish to delete and click Done.
Errors are shown for records which cannot be deleted for some reason. For example: if the learner is linked to the applicant – to rectify this, the user must find the learner and remove the link so that the applicant may be deleted.
Warnings are shown to indicate counts of other related data that will also be permanently deleted as it belongs to the applicant, such as surveys, or involvement in activities.
If you are happy with the warnings that have been presented, then clicking accept will proceed to perform the permanent deletion upon all selected applicants.
User Defined Forms – Edit Permissions
A new feature has been added to User Defined Forms to control who can edit each form – previously you could configure which users could see particular forms. With these new changes you could have specific forms that only your Assessors or Finance team can edit, but your data administration team can view.
We’re pleased to announce that in PICS 15.10.015.03 the Achievement Rates reports can now be run using the 2017 calculations. To do so, select either the 2017 Apprentice or 2017 Education and Training report in the Achievement Rates section of PICS Reports.
The 2017 calculations have few changes compared to 2016, and these are listed here:
Funding Model 36 aims are now included in the apprenticeship report – selecting the 2017 calculations in PICS will automatically tick the Include FM36 Aims option for you.
Apprenticeship standards (Programme Type 25) aims are included in Overall figures only in the apprenticeship report.
Several Education and Training exclusions have been removed:
Additional Unit Aim
Diagnostic Test Aim
First steps aim
Foundation Learning Weekly aim
The QAR Reconciler is available to compare the ESFA data extracts to the PICS QAR data. Most differences can often be attributed to data being changed after previous ILR years have been closed. As the 2017 contract year remains open until October it is therefore possible to correct any errors and resubmit before the final QARs are calculated after the year has hard-closed.
PICS Messaging Functionality in the REST API
We have expanded the REST API to include functionality to support PICS Messages. There are two new functions, one to send a single message and one retrieve PICS messages for the logged in user. See the inbuilt guidance for more information.
Non-ILR qualification plans
We have added a facility in Qualification Plans to link qualifications purely for local tracking and not reporting to the funding organisation. These are useful for monitoring any element of the programme that you wish to track in the achievements section of PICS but do not want to appear in the ILR. This can be particularly useful when interface PICS with a third party ePortfolio and may need qualification records representing Gateway Assessment & End Point Assessments to trigger the corresponding record in the ePortfolio.
Within Form Capture Application for Windows, Android and iOS, we’ve added new fields for On and Off the Job Contact Hours. These fields can be added to either of the Learner Review forms: Learner Review (CUST_RVW1) and Approved Learner Review (CUST_RVW2). The new fields are: OFFJOBHOURS, OFFJOBHOURS_NOTE, ONJOBHOURS, ONJOBHOURS_NOTE.
After adding these questions to a form and performing a sync from a device running FCA, they will be available to fill out from a learner. Use the On/Off Job Contact Hours fields to record the duration of the contact and the notes fields for any related information. Once the form has been submitted and approved, the data submitted will be added as a new contact hours record against the learner in PICS.
“Opt-in” Contact Preferences for the ILR
To comply with GDPR requirements, the ESFA ILR specification has been updated with new opt-in codes for the Restricted Use Indicator (RUI) and Preferred Method of Contact (PMC) fields. PICS 15.10.013.02 added the new values to the ILR form within PICS to allow them to be captured before the start of the 2018 ILR contract year.
We’ve now extended this change to include the opt-in RUI and PMC values in the Declaration section of the PDF ILR output available from PICS. We’ve also updated the Privacy Notice to match the latest version published by the ESFA in Appendix F of the ILR specification.
Recording Employer contributions for FM36 Apprenticeships is a significant portion of the overall admin work. Payment plans in PICS can be used to reduce this effort, once a plan has been setup it can be linked to Applicants, Opportunities and Qualification Plans for forecasting Employer contributions. Additionally, they can be used to default data capture when adding a new Learner into the system.
We’ve had a lot of feedback about how you are invoicing Employers – most of you are charging the sum of the money upfront or collecting monies each month. One request that we have had is to schedule Assessment payments relative to the learners Expected End date. A new option for ‘Weeks before Exp End’ has been added allowing you to schedule payments relative to the Expected End date.
Hosted PICS – Reset Password
We’ve made a small change to the hosting site so that after resetting a user’s password, they will be forced to change their password when next logging in. This will either be shown in our hosting portal before the user can access any of their remote applications:
Or if two-factor authentication is enabled, the new password prompt will appear before authenticating by phone:
Updates to the Postcode Regions Importer
PICS allows you to import the national database of postcodes (ONSPD) from the ONS website for reporting on learner Regions and Local Authorities. In February the ONS announced that they were changing the format of the data file which meant that the new file could not be imported into PICS.
We are happy to announce that we’ve made the necessary changes to PICS so either the new or old file formats can now be imported.
More information on importing the postcode database can be found in our Online Help Guide.