Sandwell’s Housing EDM went live at the end of March 2020, jumping from scoping visits to go-live in just eight weeks. As the new system made information available anywhere, their team could work effectively when lockdown sent them home.

Instant access to information

Sandwell’s Revenues and Benefits team have been using Information@Work for a number of years. Prioritising its extension to Housing was part of a wider shift to agile working. Then lockdown arrived and delivered an instant ROI.

Sonia Ward is the Transformation Officer that managed the rollout:

“The Housing team had lots of paper files stored in old properties. It wasn’t secure and it could be hard to access. With building closures coming up, we’d set the end of March as the target date for go-live. Had we delayed, I can’t see how the team could have supported our tenants the way they did.”

Housing EDM helps save the day

The council had extended Information@Work to the HR team only months before. Once again, meticulous planning was key to success:

  • Arranging scoping visits to understand the location and volume of files;
  • Boxing historical records for scanning, including some collected during lockdown following COVID-secure procedures;
  • Agreeing GDPR procedures up front, including document types for retention or deletion. This meant everything was ready for indexing;
  • Having staff training materials ready to go.

“When lockdown caused that overnight shift to homeworking, we were able to respond fast,” explains Sonia. “We created self-service manuals from our briefing materials and set up a dedicated email address for support requests.”

Managing major change

For some staff members, things were completely new. Lennox Thompson is a Customer Service Officer in the Housing & Communities Directorate:  “Some teams had only moved to laptops weeks before lockdown. It meant they had to get used to working in a completely different way. Yet go-live went smoothly, and it made a huge difference straight away. If you want information, it’s there.”

Work had to continue throughout lockdown. So without remote working via Information@Work, any activities that required access to documents would at best have been delayed until the documents could be retrieved from offices. “Looking at the work we do, 90% of it would have been impossible without Information@Work. Tenancy agreements, for example; we can now search for the exact piece of data we need without ploughing through vast files.”

Smarter working on the horizon

Now the 350-strong team is used to the system, attention is turning to workflow. The council’s HR team has saved around £6k a month from process improvements directly linked to the new system. As a result, they’ve been shortlisted for a 2020 Smarter Working Live award. Next it’s the Housing team’s turn to release even more efficiency.

“Information@Work enables teams to work smarter,” says Sonia, “and it proved its worth in Housing on the very first day.”

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