In the last week, two of our customers have lost their PICS data without a backup to recover from – one from a server crash and one from a cyber-attack. The help we can offer to customers in these situations is limited if there are no data backups to work with. It is critical that you take precautions to protect your data; at a minimum, customers who host PICS themselves should be taking regular backups and ensuring these are stored offsite, outside your network. If you use an external IT company to manage your systems, you must ensure that they are taking regular backups for you.
If you’d rather entrust us to look after your software and data, you may want to consider moving to our Hosting platform where we take care of backups and software updates for you in an environment that’s covered by a wide range of cyber security assurances. We are accredited to ISO 27001, hold Cyber Essentials Plus and have full Disaster Recovery policies in place, including daily backups stored in separate, secure datacentres. Call us on 01603 215000 or email email@example.com if you’d like to know more about Hosting.
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.
The next release of PICS will be on the afternoon of Thursday 4th April, which is a departure from our usual Tuesday afternoon slot (every other week). We’ve decided to delay the release a little to avoid a clash with the ILR submission window as this release contains a significant patch and this may interrupt your workflow. If your updates are performed by an IT team or 3rd-party support, please make them aware of the change in schedule.
If your software is hosted on our servers, then it’ll be updated overnight on Thursday. If your software is on your own network, it’s up to you when you update.
The introductory offer price for our online training course, Preparing for Ofsted, is nearly at an end. On Monday 1st April the price will return to the normal price of £150 instead of £75. Access to the course lasts 3 months, so don’t worry if you haven’t got time to go through it right now, you can purchase today and come back to it later while still saving a bit of money.