Industry voice: Almost a third of London boroughs have harnessed the same intelligent forms platform to target digital transformation and savings in high volume revenues and benefits transactions.
The collective innovation across these councils is impressive. From a shared social welfare fund application process between Lambeth and the City of London, to integrated and automated changes in circumstances forms in Hackney, these councils are using the same IEG4 architecture and open platform rather than bespoking their approaches to service improvement.
Standard components and reusability are key to delivering cost-effective end-to-end service transformation - delivering savings and excellent customer experiences whilst making the most of existing back office systems.
Meeting user need
Hackney is one of the councils to adopt IEG4’s intelligent forms platform, eGovHub. Matthew Cain, head of digital and data at the council, explains: “As a signatory to the Local Digital Declaration, it’s important to us that we buy software which meets user need, improves regularly and is well supported.
“IEG4 has a strong reputation in revenues and benefits and we were able to trial their 'change of circumstance' service to discover how well it met user need, how we could best drive adoption and what benefits would result.
“We were delighted with the outcome and look forward to the benefits for residents.”
IEG4 will be working with the council to provide end to end automation for one of the most time consuming and complex transactions in revenues and benefits: 'change in circumstance'. Customers will be offered a self-serve personalised experience via web or mobile device that ensures the journey is as seamless as possible and integrates directly into the back office system to minimise manual intervention.
Hackney Council will also be deploying IEG4’s ‘self-employed’ (SE) module that again will reduce complexity and free up staff time as customers are guided through the complex process step by step.
This self-employed module was developed with Brent Council in response to a very specific challenge relating to ‘self-employed’ people applying for benefit. The process is complex and manual, time consuming and requires an in-depth knowledge of supporting legislation.
IEG4 developed a smart SE module that can easily be added to their new claim and change in circumstances digital transactions. This automatically calculates the various components required to make a valid self-employed application and simplifies the process so that customer service staff, as well as skilled practitioners, can complete these cases quickly and simply.
Savings and excellent customer experience
Whilst all operating in unique circumstances to serve their residents and businesses, these London boroughs have one thing in common: in difficult financial times they are all looking to improve the citizen experience whilst delivering savings through digitising processes. And indeed, the size of the prize is potentially significant.
For example, an average time to process a change in circumstance can be around 30 minutes. Using intelligent forms that validate information submitted and capture evidence at the point of transaction and then automating workflow, this processing time can be brought down to around five minutes.
With a busy borough receiving over 50,000 such changes a year from citizens relating to housing benefit or council tax, a 25-minute reduction in processing time for each change could free up over 20,800 hours - the equivalent of over £500,000 in staff time on average officer salary levels.
Perhaps more importantly this released capacity can be used to help customers tackling the change to universal credit or those more complex cases that require time and in-depth knowledge to resolve.
Helping citizens to self-serve
Another example is Lewisham Council, which has been using IEG4's OneVu self-service citizen portal for over a year, integrating it with the 'My Lewisham' accounts to enable residents to access revenues and benefits services online.
According to Ralph Wilkinson, head of public services at the council, OneVu has been “a win-win solution for both our citizens and the council”. It has helped them to process housing benefit and council tax applications faster and make decisions in a more-timely manner.
Self-service via OneVu lets residents apply for housing benefit or council tax discounts and exemptions, track payments, notify the council of changes of address and appeal decisions online at a time to suit them, from their phone, laptop or tablet device. Landlords can also view information about their tenants.
Convenient, quick and user-friendly, the service is popular with residents – at the same time taking the strain off both the call centre and face-to-face service desks, and delivering savings.
Over twenty new self-service transactions on Lewisham’s website now cover council tax and business rates as well as new benefits claims and change in circumstance. The complete end to end solution encompasses a digital account that can be used by customers and customer service staff, as well as workflow, including EDMS, case management and CRM Lite.
Self-sufficiency and shared development
Lewisham is also one of a number of London boroughs to have invested in eDesigner, IEG4’s comprehensive e-forms platform which lets business users quickly and easily create, amend and launch digital transactions.
A significant bonus of eDesigner is the collaboration across council users of the platform. IEG4 has established a ‘local government as a platform’ service which all OneVu and eDesigner customers can use to accelerate their deployment of intelligent forms, enabling forms developed by one council to be shared, rebranded, reused, and rapidly put into use by another.
Platform fit for the future
IEG4 continues to evolve its digital platform, incorporating the newest smart chatbots to help guide citizens through transactions and providing a base for robotic process automation. Meanwhile its new EasyDataFeeder product provides a framework that collates data using the National Benefits Project and back office vendor APIs into a structured set of data feeds. This can be surfaced on a council's website when a citizen is logged in using IEG4 Identity Server to give a personalised view of a council that is unique to them.
Hear more about how IEG4 can deliver your digital transformation needs. In partnership with Microsoft, IEG4 is holding a collaborative working, citizen engagement portals and platforms event on 17 July in London. To book your place click here.