East Kent councils to merge CRM systems

Three councils in East Kent have agreed to replace their CRM systems with one single shared platform.

The three systems will be replaced by a transactional platform for online forms and integrated digital services, which is being provided by UK-based digital services firm Jadu.

The East Kent Shared Services (EKS) partnership, which comprises Canterbury City Council, Dover District Council and Thanet District Council, plans to digitise over 200 existing forms and services such as housing, council tax and revenues and benefits.

The project will use the Jadu XFP ‘Universe Forms’ platform to deliver online forms, e-payments and integrated digital services to any device. This technology also supports the Ministry of Justice’s Employment Tribunal Fee Payment system, one of the government’s 25 exemplar digital services.

‘Significant savings’

EKS said that the new CRM is set to save the councils “significantly” in both licensing and management costs for the legacy systems, however it did not provide specific figures or disclose the existing CRM systems used by the councils.

Donna Reed, director of shared services for the EK Services Partnership, said: “In times of budget challenges, but wanting to improve services to our customers, we need a more agile and modern way to deliver digital services that focus on ease of use.

“We decided that implementing a platform that was secure, scalable and designed for delivering services to all devices was what we needed. We are moving from old customer management systems and making the leap into modern digital services with Jadu as our partner.”

Jadu CEO Suraj Kika said: “We’ve become very specialist at delivering digital services for government - both from a security perspective and importantly, from a user needs perspective. It’s time for innovation to lead the way with delivering online services for government and for large IT to go on a long, long holiday.”

EKS to save using Citrix

EKS also announced today that it expects to save £2.7 million over four years by deploying a Citrix virtual desktop solution, 42 percent more than originally forecast. The solution allows council staff to access all the systems they need to use from a single login.

The solution, which was designed and implemented by local IT firm Thintech, is based on Citrix XenApp and NetScaler.

EKS was particularly interested in enabling remote working and mobile access and rationalising its property portfolio, both of which it said will be supported by the deployment.

EKS’ ICT technical systems manager Timo Bayford said: “One of the key things for us is that IT is seen as an enabler – not a barrier – to transforming ways of working and improving customer service

“We knew that Citrix would do what we wanted in a way that wouldn’t require hours of user training. It looks and feels exactly like a familiar desktop and once it was rolled out it would be ‘just there’, ready to use, with no surprises.

“Ultimately, we are seeing more cross-group collaboration. Project groups can come together and all camp down in the same spot. We’ve even provided Wi-Fi in the canteen so that people can use it throughout the day to work in the ways they wish.”

The EKS ICT team are now exploring IP telephony and extending wireless networking across all offices as part of the flexible working agenda. They are also currently considering using Citrix Sharefile for secure file-sharing.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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