SFA business operations : help and support

How to get help and advice about the SFA business operations system applications.



Service desk contact information


Telephone: 0370 2670001

Service desk opening hours:

8.30am to 5.00pm Monday to Thursday
8.30am to 4.00pm Friday
8.30am to 1.00pm Christmas Eve

On ILR return day the service desk is open until 6pm.

The service desk is closed weekends, bank holidays.

Please include the following information when emailing:

  • nature of query/request in the email subject box
  • UPIN - very important
  • description of the query/request including error messages and screenshots
  • your contact information including your company details
  • the application being used
  • your website browser version
  • your computer operating system

Once you have sent in a query - whether by phone or by email - we will:

  • send an email confirming your incident number and incident topic and if required, request further information
  • resolve at first line where possible - if not, escalate to an appropriate technical expert
  • send you an email with a resolution or an answer to your query
  • send an email confirming that we have resolved your query
  • request feedback

We are able to answer many issues very quickly, for example the resetting of passwords, or highlighting particular areas within our published documents for your action or information. More technical queries will take longer to answer.

Please do not log multiple repeat enquiries by email as this will increase the amount of enquiries that need to be processed and will in turn slow overall response time.

You can also write to the service desk at:

Service Desk
Skills Funding Agency
Cheylesmore House
Quinton Road

What the business operations team can support you with

  • Funding Information System (FIS) including the ILR entry tool
  • data collection processes and reports, including the PFR (provider funding report) Data quality reports
  • success rates and minimum standards/minimum levels of performance reports, including requests for learner reference mapping (L03 mapping)
  • national and official further education statistics, including the SFR (statistical first Release) on post-16 education and national success rate tables
  • provider gateway use and access requests
  • access to the Hub, including permissions, super users and passwords
  • services on the Hub including data collections, searching learning aims, and Contracts and Finance
  • notifications of a learner’s death or change in contact preference (contact details should be notified to individual providers)
  • FE Choices, including survey methodology and data outputs
  • Individualised Learner Record (ILR) data
  • national careers service course directory provider portal (please note: we do not support the public-facing website)
  • qualifications for post-16 education and training: provider-facing fundability and validity only

Data security

Data encryption and password protection.

All providers must encrypt and also password protect all data files including learner details when they are sending them by email to the service desk.

This includes all spreadsheet files and ILR files sent via email and which include personal information about learners such as names, postcodes and date of birth.

Following the correct security procedure means that learner information is better protected.

Your data protection responsibilities:

Protecting your learners’ personal information is a compliance requirement under the Data Protection Act.

Visit the information commissioner’s office website for more information regarding how to work with personal data and basic principles.

What you must do before sending data by email to the service desk

When sending data:

  • any file sent by email to the Service Desk needs to be encrypted to AES 256 bit encryption standards using acceptable encryption software such as WinZip version 12
  • create and use a passphrase with a minimum of 15 alpha numerical characters including symbols, for example Hell0H0wAr3y0UT0dAy?
  • after emailing us your encrypted files, you must contact the service desk and communicate the password using a different communications method such as telephone

What constitutes a security breach?

A security breach occurs when you:

  • do not encrypt or password protect your data
  • communicate your password using the same medium used to transmit your data files.
  • use another colleague’s user name and password to access OLDC
Published 26 February 2014
Last updated 11 October 2016 + show all updates
  1. Title of page changed to SFA business operations help and support on 11 October 2016.
  2. SFA data services help and support page revised on 2 February 2015.
  3. Closure dates for December 2014 to January 2015 added.
  4. Change to service desk contact telephone number
  5. Minor editorial changes made on Thursday 6 March 2014
  6. First published.