A new approach to CRM and back office integration in Local Government

A new way to deliver Digital Services

The concept of a ‘Golden Record’ has become a Holy Grail in pursuit of joined-up transactional service delivery. Perceived wisdom says that a CRM system should provide this, sitting at the heart of a council’s collection of public channels and back office applications, deeply integrated with every transactional system and business process which touches on customer service.

However we are seeing this reliance on CRM challenged. Local authorities are littered with stalled and incomplete big-bang CRM implementations, the legacy of shifting priorities, changes in technology, organisational upheavals, budgetary constraints and technical barriers. In the Local Government marketplace, there are a small number of ‘large IT’ system providers - many of whom have proven to be inflexible and lacking in sector focus and/or customer orientation. This is manifested by web portal bolt-on and online forms that suffer a lack of adoption of modern web standards and accessibility, poor support for the mobile user experience and complexity in integration with business process.

Just as important as the council’s single view of the customer, and something which is not necessarily delivered by embedded CRM, is the customer’s single view of the council. What’s important to the customer, and by extension important for successful digital service delivery and channel shift programmes, is an easy to access, intuitive and consistent user journey from the initial search for an online service through to completion and feedback - one which is simple and quick to complete, and which instills confidence and trust in the process.

Increasingly, when local authorities evaluate CRM products, ‘no CRM’ or ‘CRM Lite’ is included as a viable approach.

EK Services Logo

One such evaluation recently led EK Services, a shared service partnership between Dover District Council, Thanet Borough Council and Canterbury City Council, to select Jadu XForms Professional to form the backbone of their online service delivery channel. The new service aims to replace three CRM systems, which each council currently maintains and licenses individually and is set to save the councils significantly in both licensing and management costs for the legacy CRM systems.

The project will deliver online forms, e-payments and integrated digital services. EK Services will be digitising over 200 existing forms and services including Revenues and Benefits, Housing and Council Tax for new digital services as well as delivering e-payments and direct integration with back office systems using the Jadu platform in the iterative, phased delivery of the new system. Jadu Platform includes ‘CRM lite’ functionality, meaning the Council can track interactions and transactions on web and other channels, and customers can register for an account, track progress for applications and see content and services relevant to their needs.

Leveraging the 'lite' CRM capability within the Jadu XForms Professional platform, EK Services will be focusing on customer needs and iterating the tools and integration they need to deliver a significantly improved digital service.  

The integration strategy being taken is iterative. The three councils have a number of different line of business applications for Revenues and Benefits, cash receipting, environmental services etc. and are prioritising the most used and ‘expensive’ services for deeper integration and finding simple methods for lower usage, yet easier to integrate services. This agile, iterative approach has already led to a number of key benefits - with the councils able to deploy forms in hours rather than days and weeks as had been the case.

“In times of budget challenges, but wanting to improve services to our customers, we need a more agile and modern way to deliver digital services that focuses on ease of use. We decided that implementing a platform that was secure, scalable and designed for delivering services to all devices was what we needed. We are moving from old customer management systems and making the leap into modern digital services with Jadu as our partner.”

Donna Reed, Director of Shared Services, EK Services

Integration with payment service providers (Adelante, Capita and Civica) as well as revenues and benefits systems providers (Northgate) are already underway with planned integration with document management providers (Civica and Anite) to provide seamless file and document workflows so that customers can provide information to the council in the ways they choose, with digital self-service being the first choice.

Emma Bumstead, Technology Coordinator at EK Services gives an overview of the implementation of Jadu Platform at Canterbury City Council, Thanet District Council and Dover District Council.