Back in 2019, before the words "pandemic", "vaccine" and "lockdown" were at the forefront of everyone's mind, Meritec won a contract with Derbyshire Dales District Council to help them deliver on their ambitious Digital Transformation aspirations. This was to be achieved by leveraging Meritec’s own unique Digital Platform and associated pre-built solutions.
After being awarded the contract, the Council highlighted that Meritec's experience in delivering similar complex projects (using our range of Digital Solutions), our friendly & easy to work with team, plus our proven partnership approach were key factors in their decision to award Meritec the contract.
The Council had a wide range of legacy systems, in-house developments, spreadsheets etc. in use across all service areas and it is fair to say that there was very little joined-up thinking in terms of process automation, workflow and systems integration. Whilst looking to standardise and align many of these disparate systems, a major part of the brief for the project was to achieve end-to-end Digital Transactions that integrate with the relevant back-office systems wherever possible. The initial phase of the project was to focus on the 2 main high-volume service areas of Waste Management and Customer Services whilst also delivering a “My Account” facility to allow residents to interact Digitally with the Council.
One of several challenges that was overcome during the first phase of the project was the integration of our CXM (Customer Experience Management) & Self-Service modules to two different Waste Management systems. When the project started the Council were in the process of procuring a new Waste Service which would come with a new software solution for managing the rounds and in-cab technology, however the project timescales dictated we could not wait until that new Service was in place to launch the new Digital platform, so we integrated firstly with the existing solution and then re-visited (and re-iterated) the integrations for the new solution once it became available later in the project.
On the 1st of April 2020 the solution went live and there was a major push within the Council to promote the new Digital channel to its residents. Launching a major transformation programme during a worldwide pandemic put the whole Meritec team somewhat outside of their comfort zone as traditionally we would have had much more on-site attendance during the critical final few months of the implementation, however this just was not possible.
Nevertheless the project implementation was a resounding success and at the end of December we reviewed the adoption figures of system usage and were thrilled to see the platform and solutions were being very heavily used:
- Over 46,500 transactions put through the system since launch
- 91% of these transactions were via the self-service channel
Number of Transactions by month: % completed by Business Service Unit (BSU) and Self Service:
COVID Grant Support Schemes
Furthermore, the Council used the flexibility, agility and rapid low/no-code self-configuration features of the Meritec Digital Platform to manage a range of COVID19 support measures to aid businesses and residents in the Dales, including fully managing the end-to-end process of issuing all the Governments grant schemes through the systems. The platform was ultimatley used to handle thousands of applications and supporting the payment of millions of pounds to businesses in the District.
- Commitment - Meritec highlighted from the very beginning of our discussions with the Council that the success of the project and ultimately the Council's ambitions to Digitally transform, were heavily dependent on the Council fully committing to the project. The Council very much took this on board and recruited a dedicated "Digital Transformation Project Manager" who was assisted by a strong team and it was very refreshing to see regular attendance at project review meetings from the Chief Executive – buy-in to Digital Transformation at this level is fantastic!
- Regular meetings - whilst face to face meetings weren't possible, we strictly stuck to weekly progress update meetings where the relevant stakeholders were involved over Teams or Zoom. This was just the tip of the iceberg as in reality there was almost daily communication and meetings between the Councils Team and the Meritec Implementation team.
- Partnership Approach - as with all complex projects of this nature, the original brief / SoR evolved as the project progressed and whilst this is often expected it does need to be closely managed if time and cost constraints are going to be met. As an experienced supplier in this field, Meritec look to work in a true partnership with our customers and this has been evident throughout the whole project and the understanding and flexibility of both parties was no small factor in contributing to the success of this project.
Paul Wilson, Chief Executive at Derbyshire Dales District Council said: “Meritec have provided excellent support to my organisation during the last 12 months since we entered our partnership to develop a new CRM system. Without the support we have received, the last nine months would have been so much harder. Thanks Adam to you and your team for all of your efforts and support”
As of writing this (January 2021) we are in yet another lockdown and we are working closely with the Council to quickly deliver the high volume of COVID Grant Applications that keep getting assigned to the Council to deliver in extremely short timeframes.
The Council have some ambitious and exciting plans for future phases of their Digital Transformation journey with Meritec and I can’t wait to be involved in them.
Adam Wilkinson, Meritec Limited.