Newport City Council saves residents time by going online with Jadu Digital Services Platform
Moving people to a self-service set up is a key focus for any public sector organisation in today's increasingly digital world. Facilitating this 'channel shift' - the evolution of customer interaction from face-to-face and telephone, to online communication - ensures a more efficient 'anytime, anywhere' experience for customers.
Local authorities in particular are also facing severe pressure to reduce departmental budgets, so encouraging as many users as possible to access services online is an important step towards meeting these government expectations and staying on track financially.
Newport City Council recently embarked on an ambitious programme to improve access to its local services online with the help of Jadu's standalone form and digital service delivery platform. The project focused on increasing the number of services available to residents via Newport City Council's website - from paying council tax online, to applying for parking permits or requesting information on local recycling services.
In October 2012, the project culminated in the 'Save time, go online' campaign. This was designed to educate residents as to the benefits of using online forms and was funded as part of a pilot spearheaded by the Department for Work and Pensions. The programme of activities tackled 'unaware' users and included videos, local billboards to raise awareness of the service changes, and drop-in help sessions for those in need of guidance.
Newport City Council's move to a more streamlined online service model started in 2011 when the team was tasked with identifying which services residents accessed and the channels through which they were delivered. This could be face-to-face at the city's contact centre, by telephone or, in some cases, even via post. Plans were then made to shift the most popular and complex services to basic web-based forms, accessible via the Newport City Council website.
Having selected Jadu XForms Professional (XFP), Jadu's enterprise level digital services creation and management platform, the team at Newport began to build and transfer the council's services to an online portal. To date, the project has saved the council both significant development time and considerable cost. Based on the team's evaluation of each service's delivery method, Newport City Council was also able to project the savings each new online form would afford. By April 2014, it is expected that more than £39,000 in savings will be realised in the budget.
"The key to any digital service offering is integration. Too often, service transformation is only seen from the back office point of view, rather than the customers'. Jadu has been critical to our success when it comes to offering the city's residents a full, accessible range of online forms and services."Tracy McKim, IT Infrastructure Manager, Newport City Council
Streamlined and Accessible
Jadu's sophisticated management and processing tools have helped the Newport City Council team deliver the same robust approach as any business critical system or application, ensuring data accuracy and efficient form processing.
Form administrators at the council can view all forms created in the system, as well as drill down to view an individual form's structure. This includes a visual representation of different journeys a specific customer may take during the form completion process - a feature that has helped the team to shape the services offered to Newport residents on an ongoing basis.
Administrators can also tailor email alerts from a dedicated configuration area, where they can draft content communications and set up email alerts to occur at different stages of form completion. The recipients can include the council's staff or users, with the purpose of keeping everyone informed.
Now with a fully redesigned website and new search function, Newport City Council estimates that more than half of all transactions will be completed by self-service methods - a shift that translates into approximately £500,000 worth of savings over a five year period. In May 2013, self-service transactions - customer contact through non-mediated channels - had increased to 45 percent.
As part of SOCITM's Better Connected 2013 report, which identifies best practice in the development of local authority websites, Newport City Council was also awarded a 3-star rating. An accolade that only goes to show what a crucial part of the Digital by Default strategy online forms have become.
More information: http://services.newport.gov.uk