The next instalment of our Blogcast is now available to view, highlighting selected recent changes to PICS including how to update your Apprenticeship qualification plans for the new 5% employer contribution.
We will be releasing an updated version of the FM36 Reconciler in the next release. This version will allow the following functionality:
Reconciliation with the Data Match Report
This reconciler will read in the details from the Data Match Report from the Hub and give details of the learner’s record in PICS for any Data Match issues identified in the report. This will allow you to identify, and attempt to fix, any issues.
Reconciliation with the Indicative Earnings Report
The Indicative Earnings Report is available via the FIS and
the Hub. The FM36 Apprenticeship Reconciler will reconcile the claims
information stored in PICS (which need to be generated via the Funding
Calculator) with the information in the report.
Reconciliation with the Monthly Payment Report
The Monthly Payment Report is available from the Hub. The
Reconciler will compare the funding in the report with that stored in PICS. The
following will also happen:
Updating of PICS Claims where a Levy funded Apprentice receives Co-funding payments
Where a Levy funded Apprentice (ACT 1) is shown to receive funding via Co-funding, the reconciler will make some adjustments to Claims information stored in PICS. This will only happen if the total On Programme payments (Levy + ESFA Co-funding contribution + amount due from the employer) for a given period match. The following adjustments will be made against Claims store in PICS:
A negating Claim item will be created for any programme-based Claims items stored in PICS; for example, if a Levy Instalment Claim for £100 exists, a negating Levy Instalment Claim with a value of -£100 will be created. The original Claim item(s) are retained.
A new Claim will be generated to represent the ESFA contribution, typically 90% of the original Claim but will match that in the report. Following the same example as above, a £90 ESFA Co-funding claim will be created.
A new Claim will be generated to represent the amount owed by the employer, typically 10% of the original Claim but will match the value from the report. Following the same example as above, a £10 Generic Employer claim will be created
Updating Apprenticeship Service Status within PICS
If the Apprenticeship Service Status on a learner’s record in PICS is set to DAS Eligible, Ready for DAS or Sent to DAS, but they appear within the Monthly Payment Report, the reconciler will set the Status on the learner’s record to On DAS.
The following features existed in the original FM36 Reconciler but are currently going through our development process to ensure that they work with other changes in the Reconciler:
Updating of Young Apprentice Incentive Payments
Where there are Additional Employer or Provider Payments in the report, the Monthly Payments Report Reconciler will update any matching Incentive Payments in PICS that are in the same period. The reconciler will also update or insert the necessary Employer Forwarding Payments.
Ability to add missing PMR records
During the Monthly Payments Report reconciliation process,
PICS Claims are updated when a Levy funded Apprentice is identified as
receiving payments via Co-funding. This feature will display a list of PMRs
that coincide with these adjustments and allow you to add them where required.
As announced last week in the Chancellor’s Spring statement, the employer contribution for apprenticeships will be reduced to 5% for new starts from 1st April onward. Whilst the move had previously been announced in the Chancellor’s Budget, no implementation date had been set.
In response to this surprise announcement, we have adjusted both our validation and funding calculations, and version 15.20.008.01 of PICS will include these changes.
With an increasing need for more contact types when recording a learner’s contact hours, it is now possible to add custom codes to the existing list.
A new picklist has been added to the Learner section on the Miscellaneous tab in Other General Base Data. This pick list is called Learner Contact Type Codes.
The popup allows you to define new contact type codes with accompanying descriptions. When adding a new code, it must be exactly 2 characters long, and must not match any of the predefined codes.
In addition to being able to add new codes, a setting called ‘Ignore Contact Types’ has been added to PICS Configuration which allows the removal of codes you no longer want to use.
Selecting codes from this list means they will no longer appear as an option in the drop-down when creating new contact hour entries for learners in PICS or eAssessor. The description for ignored codes will also not be shown when viewing contact hour records in PICS, eAssessor or AdHoc outputs that already exist with these codes. Instead, only the code will be shown.
When updating these settings, it is important to note that eAssessor will not reflect any changes until the web service has been restarted.
Also included in this release is our Web Server System Requirements Update. Non-hosted customers should ensure that they have the Microsoft .NET Framework version 4.7.2 installed and configured for web hosting.
We are pleased to announce the release of our new Preparing for Ofsted online course. This course will help you to understand how best to use PICS to support you both before and during an Ofsted inspection.
The course includes a series of lessons using videos, documentation and other resources to support your learning experience. Each registration on the course lasts for 3 months, giving you plenty of time to make good use of the content.
To mark the release, our new course will be offered half price, at just £75, until the end of March.
In an effort to standardise and centralise some of the settings available in AdHoc’s Output settings, we have moved them to the Reports section of PICS Configuration.
The settings we have prioritised moving are the ones that would not have previously been honoured when running AdHoc reports through Schedulable reports, such as custom header text and user-defined officer titles.
Moving these settings also means that they have become system-wide, meaning that users will no longer be able to have these settings different to anyone else. As such, you may need to reset some of these settings.
We have also added the option to show raw fields as part of the output selection, a setting previously enabled within the AdHoc.ini file. However, this setting will not override that option if you already have it enabled in the AdHoc.ini file.
Previously, it was only possible to set up a single configuration per installation of eApply, allowing you to set up a one size fits all application for all applicants or companies. The next update for eApply introduces support for creating multiple forms. You will be able to configure individual forms to suit the specific requirements needed. Each different form configuration can be accessed via a unique link. If you create additional forms, it will be the existing form that will act as the default form.
Creating additional Forms
To create a new eApply form configuration, first, you must be logged in as you normally would when you wanted to edit the form. Once logged in, you will see a dropdown list of all your existing forms in the Applicants and Companies tabs in the navigation bar at the top of the page.
Rather than starting from a blank form, the best thing to do is select the existing form which most closely matches your requirements and then click the clone button. This will copy the existing form and allow you to start configuring the new form in the edit view.
When editing a form, there is an additional Form Details box visible containing two fields:
Key: This is the ID which will be used at the end of the URL when accessing this form. It can only be defined when creating a new form and cannot be modified later. It is mandatory and must be different from any existing form of the same type (applicant or company)
Title: This is the label used to describe the form in the form list, and at the top of the page. You can edit the form title as and when required.
Upon clicking save, the new form configuration will be created, you will find the provided title listed amongst the other forms on the navigation bar Applicants and Companies drop downs.
If you no longer need an additional form for whatever reason you can delete them. This can only be performed on additional forms and not the default form which will not display a delete button. Once you are logged in, navigate to the form you wish to delete and click the delete button. It is not possible to perform soft deletion on forms or to make them dormant.
How do I Update to multi-form eApply?
If you are using PICS on our hosting platform, we will update your application for you as we usually do. However, because this is quite a big change from existing eApply installs, it will not automatically be included in updates via PICS Software Updates for non-hosted customers. If you have eApply but are not hosted, when you are ready to get the new version, you will need to reconfigure your PICS software updates to point at eApply2.
eApply is our online application form that can capture the details of both learners (applicants) and employers. eApply is available to all of our CRM Gold customers and is part of our digital onboarding solution. Phone 01603 215000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to find out more about these facilities.