Monmouthshire County Council
Using Microsoft Power Apps to provide flexibility and improve citizen experience in Monmouthshire
Monmouthshire County Council is a small local authority located in rural Wales, headquartered in the town of Usk. The current unitary authority was created in 1996 and covers the eastern three-fifths of the historic county of Monmouthshire. Employing around 4,500 people across their community hubs and offices, their main priorities are ensuring everyone has access to a great education, protecting vulnerable people, and supporting a strong economy.
Monmouthshire Council approached Hitachi Solutions having identified challenges within their Community Links team and the way they operate. The team is responsible for representing citizens across the council, dealing with a range of issues including mental health, loneliness, cost of living, domestic violence and ensuring access to educational resources. They previously operated using a complex Excel document containing every interaction and citizen’s details. This meant that the council had no central view of each citizen and lacked the ability to analyse historic data of previous interactions, service provisions or support systems. The inability to track and manage interactions between support and communications for both employee reference and citizens has led to issues surrounding GDPR, missing data fields and information being overwritten or deleted.
In conjunction with the issues surrounding citizen experience, the spreadsheet was unscalable, unmanageable, and not user-friendly for the Community Links team. The combination of issues slowed processes for dealing with referrals and interactions, causing delays in waiting lists and accessing support. A disconnect was present between the services employees were wanting to provide, versus the services they were able to provide given the data available. For example, when data had been deleted and the mobile number was missing, the citizen would not be contactable, resulting in them missing out on the support required.
On a strategic level, Monmouthshire Council is rapidly growing, therefore using a spreadsheet was not able to support its expanding needs. The council needed a solution that was efficient and could support its growth, whilst expanding in line with operations and improving visibility across departments regarding records and information sharing. The system implemented needed to be flexible and able to be changed in house quickly.
Hitachi Solutions understood the requirements of the council and worked to implement Microsoft Power Platform; a flexible, user-friendly solution which allows the council to provide an improved, professional service. The solution has provided traceability for the council, having a full user journey mapped visually to see what the citizen has asked, and their outcomes with time stamps. The ability to reflect on this to identify gaps within their services and monitor their impact coupled with the secure data has led the council to improve their services. Since going live in April 2022, 386 people have been supported via the new platform which is a significant increase in productivity when comparing the number of citizens that were able to be supported via the use of the spreadsheet.
The platform provides quick and accessible reporting systems, which previously would have been conducted manually, the data gained from the reports allow the council to manage the demand for their services, ensuring resources and availability are allocated effectively.
The visual representation of the full customer journey allows communication timelines to be drawn, identifying the last point of contact, the future contact, and any activities in the meantime. For example, a citizen who is being supported during a period of isolation may be referred to attend a community group. This is noted within the individual’s profile so that the council can quickly identify previous support requirements if this same citizen was to ask for help in the future, allowing them to efficiently plan.
As well as improving the citizen experience, the user experience within the council was also a priority. Each user within the Community Links team can personalise their dashboard depending on their focus, displaying visuals of recent reports and figures allowing easy identification of where the majority of referrals are coming from. Booked appointments are automatically synced to calendars and flexibility is achieved through the personalisation of the terminology and languages used. With a much smoother process having been attained, the team now feels they are in a process of continuous learning from insights they didn’t have access to before, as Microsoft PowerApps allow them to train staff and evolve the system as they grow. For example, with the full directory of contacts, suppliers and accounts that are now constantly being updated, teams can see all resources quickly, knowing they are up to date and accurate to recommend.
We would like to express our appreciation to Hitachi Solutions for their outstanding work on this project. Throughout the entire process, they have maintained a can-do attitude and provided exceptional support. We look forward to continuing our partnership with them and exploring new opportunities to improve our services.Fred Weston
Monmouthshire County Council
The initial project started as a system of record for a small group of users within the Community Links team. Monmouthshire Council is now using the current feedback and looking to expand this to a wider user group including the Digital Lending team. They are looking to expand from the core team, allowing others to reap the benefits of the platform, allowing them to signpost activities and forward requests to wider teams. The platform users will increase as the council evolves, with adaptability and flexibility being at the forefront of the project, Monmouthshire has the ability to make changes and onboard new departments, therefore increasing usability and departments in the future.
They also hope to expand the project to other third-sector organisations within the region. The aim is to have other organisations, including libraries, able to provide referrals to the council and forward requests to manage the process on a wider scale and support citizens with a further scope of requests.