Chichester District Council has saved over £50,000 per annum by integrating Collective and Lagan ECM to improve the response to missed bin enquiries and other service issues.
Previously, all waste management for Chichester District Council was handled using a complex Microsoft Office Access database. The resources required in-house to support the system on a daily basis and at times of service change had become onerous, taking almost one full-time member of staff’s time. The Council recognised that this posed a significant business risk with system support and development reliant on one individual’s skills and knowledge base. A new software system was required which could accommodate future growth and be maintained by the service users.
Chichester District Council had adopted Lagan’s Enterprise Case Management solution in 2004, and was already reaping the benefits of increased efficiency as the result of integration between the front and back office applications. Having drafted a list of requirements, the Council conducted a gap analysis which identified that the existing Lagan system could already meet 70% of the business needs for Waste Management, since delivery centred around service requests and customer/property records. Huw Rowlands, the Council’s Business Analyst, worked closely with Lagan developers to deliver additional functionality that would enable the system to build collection rounds, allocate individuals and assets to those rounds and enable the service to take advantage of corporate tools integrated into the base product, such as GIS, business reporting, e-payments and direct debits. The success criteria for the project was based on:-
Prior to implementing the Lagan system, service requests would be directed to the administrative office. However, front line staff there would have no knowledge as to why the bin may not have been collected.
When a customer telephoned to report a missed bin, the administrative staff would create a case against the property and advise the customer that they would call them back when the mobile crews returned to the depot.
The 15 crews on their rounds would manually complete a form to report any anomalies en route. These forms were printed, collated and distributed daily to all 15 crews (100 sheets of paper each day). On return to the depot around mid-afternoon, the crews would pass the completed forms to the Admin staff who would search through the forms, ascertain the reason for the missed bin and then contact the customer to resolve the enquiry. With around 16,000 missed bin enquiries each year, this was a time-consuming task.
The service recognised that this was far from ideal from the customer’s point of view. If they called the council in the morning, they may have to wait until the afternoon for a response, explanation, or information about the next available delivery. Bob Riley, Contracts Manager at Chichester District Council, says: “Quite apart from the inordinate amount of time spent printing out paper reports and researching the reasons for the missed bin, we were having to double-handle customer enquiries, rather than provide the information at the time of the call. With avoidable contact high on the agenda, this was clearly not an optimal way of working.”
There was a clear need to take the developed back office solution one stage further and have real time information to improve service delivery and to have the ability to communicate with the crews.
With central government funding, Chichester District Council worked with Bartec Auto ID to integrate their Collective system into the Lagan back office solution. As part of a pilot scheme, three crews were issued with rugged in-cab computers, fitted into the vehicles. With an integrated GPS system and link to the Local Land and Property Gazeteer (LLPG), the device presents the driver with each property on his round as he approaches it. The screen is completely configurable, and enables the driver to record incidents and/or reasons why a collection has not been possible. This information creates, in real time, a case in the Lagan system with the information needed for the admin staff to deal with customer enquiries at first point of contact.
An added advantage of the technology is the provision of a map, streaming the location of each vehicle whilst on their rounds. This data enables the service to replay and analyse rounds to assess the most efficient collection route, and to advise a customer where a particular vehicle is at any one time. This is of particular use at times of adverse weather conditions or where a road has been temporarily inaccessible, delaying the crew. Where a bin has been genuinely missed, the admin staff are able to locate the nearest vehicle and request a collection. Being a rural district, it can be expensive to despatch a single vehicle for one missed collection from the central depot to a property in one of the outer areas.
The Lagan ECM solution is driving efficiencies in other ways too: by creating a ‘case’ history against properties, the council now has access to powerful patterns of information, offering opportunities for targeted service delivery encouraging recycling, home composting, reductions in excess waste and more education around appropriate recycling. Properties may also be ‘flagged’, drawing attention to the crews of new services to particular properties e.g. new assisted or garden waste collections that have joined their round for the first time.
From the driver’s perspective, the initiative has been a huge success. Paul West, one of the drivers who took part in the pilot, said: “The system is easy to use and the drivers much prefer it to the manual system.”
By integrating Collective with Lagan ECM, Chichester District Council has;
The Chichester pilot was funded by central government through the Sussex Improvement Fund, and has attracted enormous interest from neighbouring councils forming part of the West Sussex Accessible Services Partnership (WSASP). Chichester is now to share the experience with other local authorities. West Sussex Accessible Services Partnership is a unique partnership between the seven borough and district councils and County Council in West Sussex, many of whom are also breaking new ground by using Lagan’s ECM solution to underpin the development of a seamless information service for citizens.