NLPG Exemplar Award Runner-up – Best business process transformation 2008: Chiltern District Council.
Over the last 7 years Chiltern District Council has realised significant savings, increased service efficiencies and made significant improvements in customer care by re-engineering its business processes.
In 2001, the council realised that efficiency savings could accrue by consolidating information that was key to all service areas. The council recognised that a solid IT infrastructure was fundamental to its service provision and that most of the work carried out had a geographic element. This led to a project sponsored by the directorate of planning and the environment to explore the feasibility of consolidating existing address databases and the implementation of a corporate GIS that utilises an LLPG. The objectives of the project were to make access to address and geographic information across the organisation and for the public more efficient by making all data available electronically.
Since that time the Council has reduced the number of address databases held within the authority from 29 to one. The NLPG now underpins the Council’s own information systems and is used by the County–wide Internet Portal Partnership called ‘BucksMaps’. This provides the public with access to planning and other information.
As a direct result of these initiatives, Chiltern District Council has seen a reduction in face-to-face customer service transactions from 10,000 to 6,400 transactions per annum between 2004-2007. Front office staff have been empowered by providing them with direct access to back office systems, enabling them to answer queries over the phone or in person and cutting down the need for citizens to make long or repeated visits to the authority to resolve queries, thereby decreasing ‘avoidable contact’. Much of this transactional activity, such as planning, has transferred to the council’s website where average monthly hits have increased by 26% yearon-year. Another area of improvement is land charge searches, which are now completed within 24 hours rather than the 10 days it took formerly. A new project is underway to replace the authority’s current service request and complaint forms with ones linked to the NLPG. This is being implemented for environmental health, licensing, community safety and housing services. The forms will link directly to back office applications. By unlocking its back office systems, streamlining its business processes and facilitating citizen interaction, service delivery is greatly improved.
Apart from the BucksMaps website there is more collaboration at the county level. A countywide NLPG group has been formed with the objective of promoting best practice, streamlining processes and standardising protocols that include promoting better working between the LSG and LLPG creating authorities.
The Council is also facilitating a project with the county fire and rescue services to introduce best practice and enhanced working that will ensure address alignment with the NLPG for the FiReControl and other related projects.
Within the council itself, progress continues with a number of new projects such as one for document management that will link all documentation to a UPRN. The project is being implemented for planning first but other service areas will follow.
This programme of work has been recognised by the authority’s management team and Cabinet members and has been supported as such. This support is reinforced within the IT and finance departments. Justification comes by way of the significant savings and efficiencies that have been made along the way. Some staff posts have been saved and there have been savings in the cost of transactions amounting to £43,880 per annum based on government calculation guidelines.
- Top down support for IT based initiatives delivers real efficiencies for all departments and promotes further joined up processes and opportunities council wide.
- Improved service delivery at lower cost achieved within existing budgets.
- Substantial savings achieved through reduction in the cost of citizen based transactions including ‘Avoidable Contact’ and further ‘intangible’ cost delivered through best practice.
- Direct web links to back office systems promises further efficiencies.
- Significant partnership and best practice opportunities at the wider county level.