Venue: Meeting will be held in accordance with Statutory Instrument 2020/392. Link to live stream will be available via https://www.tendringdc.gov.uk/livemeetings
Contact: Keith Durrran 01255 686585
Apologies for Absence and Substitutions
The Committee is asked to note any apologies for absence and substitutions received from Members.
An apology was received from Councillor Morrison (with Councillor Fowler substituting).
To confirm and sign as a correct record, the minutes of the last meeting of the Committee, held on the 16th of November.
The Minutes of the last meeting of the Committee held on Monday 16 November 2020 were approved as a correct record and were then signed by the Chairman.
Declarations of Interest
Councillors are invited to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Personal Interest, and the nature of it, in relation to any item on the agenda.
There were no declarations of interest.
Questions on Notice pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 38
Subject to providing two working days' notice, a Member of the Committee may ask the Chairman of the Committee a question on any matter in relation to which the Council has powers or duties which affect the Tendring District and which falls within the terms of reference of the Committee.
On this occasion no Councillor had submitted notice of a question.
The purpose of the report is to update the Committee on the transformation progress specifically from an IT/ digital perspective. Namely;
1. The ‘My Tendring’ customer self-service portal.
2. Cloud Migration, Business Continuity And Flexible Working
3. The council’s Leisure and Tourism App.
4. Re-Design of the Council’s Data (and voice) Network
5. The Five9s contact centre application
6. Councillors’ IT
1. ‘My Tendring’ Customer Self-Service Portal
The Committee heard that the application (App) purchased to provision and deliver the Council’s My Tendring self-service offering was the Firmstep product. During 2019 the Firmstep product had been purchased by international application providers Grannicus.
The My Tendring portal works had been jointly developed and delivered through digital consultants Intergence and Amido, who had worked side-by-side with the Council’s Customer Services Team and IT Team members - a mix of system support and website support IT specialists. From the outset of the Digital Transformation programme the adopted ethos had been one of external consultants working alongside and ‘up-skilling’ in-house IT specialists. However, as the programme had developed and evolved over time, likewise, the Council’s in-house application developer skills had matured.
It was reported to Members that the Council’s in-house Developer Team continued to go from strength to strength, in part due to hands-on engagement with the programme and direct consultant experience learning and in part due to benefiting from formal academic training through collaboration between the Head of IT & Resilience and the Human Resources Development Manager. By utilising the Government’s Modern Apprenticeship scheme: 1 fte IT Systems Specialist had achieved a part-time IT under graduate degree (with honours), 2 fte were in their final year studying for a part-time IT under graduate degree (completion in 2020) and 1 fte had just commenced an Open University programming under graduate degree.
Utilising that new in-house Developer resource and new ‘low code’ Microsoft Power Applications the ongoing My Tendring Portal works ethos had evolved to further optimise transformation efficiency and best use of resources, as followed:
The Committee was directed to the report written by the Head of Customer and Commercial Services, outlining the progress of the My Tendring Customer Access Portal from a customer services perspective.
The Members heard that the Council had approximately 198 different services to re-engineer and implement as fully self-service My Tendring portal solutions. That work was anticipated to be ongoing for the next 3-4 years.
However, the digital transformation work had already started to fundamentally change the way the Council delivered its services and was already starting to change council service structures internally. Online self-service was increasingly the service choice for residents and customers with online digital capabilities. For those who chose to contact the Council using more traditional methods telephony was their primary contact method.
The Committee heard that the Covid-19 pandemic was a major factor for change with respect to how our residents and customers (and councillors and staff) engaged with the Council and our online and telephony contact volumes reflected that ‘channel-shift’. It was not unreasonable to claim that the Council would have struggled to provide the ... view the full minutes text for item 107.
The purpose of this report is to update the committee on the progress made towards the digitising of Customer Services.
It was reported to the Committee that the Customer Service provision at Tendring District Council had undergone significant change in the last two years. Three Teams from different services had been brought together to create the physical customer service team and a new reception area had been created at Pier Avenue in order to give residents a welcoming place to visit. The reception area included a number of digital kiosks whereby customers could self-serve if they chose.
The digital offering for customers had also seen significant changes. Originally online services had been delivered through forms that then needed massive intervention from back office staff. They were only useful for gathering information and were not a true end-to-end digital solution. Now customers had just one place they needed to visit online, ‘My Tendring’, where the aim was to allow customers to complete transactions at the time of their choosing from the comfort of their own homes, without the need for any intervention from TDC staff. It was the very fact that the Council had made such progress in that direction that had stood Tendring in good stead during the Covid-19 pandemic when our residents had been more insecure and the number of incoming enquiries had more than doubled.
The Members heard that although work on the My Tendring platform would be ongoing as the Council continued to add services and processes, it had already generated savings in terms of Officer time.
The Members also heard that during 2015 it had become clear that there was an ever increasing demand from customers that TDC should endeavour to provide a myriad of services online, 24 hours a day. That would benefit both those customers that worked and so could not access other customer contact channels, and those that preferred the convenience of digital access. Therefore a Channel Shift Strategy had been devised and adopted by the Council on 22 January 2016 with the statement that:
“In order to meet the needs of customers, Tendring District Council had to provide services that were:
• Easily accessible
• Simple to use
• Cost effective
In essence the Channel Shift Strategy was the roadmap to delivering services with little or no interaction from TDC staff.
The Committee was informed that in early 2016 the process of looking at the range of options available to TDC began. It was evident that there also needed to be a Customer Service Strategy that would inform the way the Council interacted with its customers; though the Council would not stop providing other contact channels such as telephone and face-to-face.
The Committee heard that the Customer Service Strategy had been adopted on 16th December 2016 with the vision statement:
“Tendring District Council will deliver an excellent service to all of its customers, both internal and external, from all of its points of access and across multiple channels. Staff will be well trained and motivated, and excellence will be measured against key performance ... view the full minutes text for item 108.
The purpose of this report was to give the Committee and overview into the Transformation Agenda of the Council – and delivery against it regarding staffing (flexible working, home working and productivity).
It was reported to the Committee that throughout 2019 a significant focus had been placed on preparing staff to work more flexibly and with greater autonomy. Two programmes had been key to this: InDependence and Managing Remote Teams. All courses were delivered by external providers who had worked very closely with the Organisational Development Manager and HR Operations Manager on design, development and content.
The InDependence programme had been designed and developed by the Organisational Development Manager with input from an organisational psychologist. The workshops had been delivered by a team of six internal managers who had been trained in how to deliver the programme. In total 273 staff had attended that programme. The Managing Remote Teams course had been attended by 52 managers and team leaders.
In addition, a booklet entitled Modern Working, Your Guide had been circulated to all course attendees.
Members heard how a number of policies had been
updated to support flexible working
To further support the move towards greater flexible working and staff personal accountability online training had been overhauled. The Council had used a specialist online provider (iHasco) for all health and safety awareness training. That shift had resulted in greater compliance as staff could plan their own training schedule according to their work patterns. Compliance rates were in excess of 90%. Face to face delivery was still used for those requiring additional support or greater detail.
The Committee heard that during 2018/19 a new in-house online learning platform hadbeen designed and developed.
Learning Zone could be accessed by all staff via a laptop and other mobile devices. Member access had also been facilitated. That platform hosted a number of mandatory courses, Careline specific courses and personal development learning opportunities. The majority of the courses on iHasco and Learning Zone included an assessment before learners could be marked as ‘complete’ and receive their certificate.
It was reported to Members that flexible working had been rapidly accelerated as a consequence of Covid, especially since March 2020 when ‘Lockdown’ had resulted in the vast majority of office based staff working from home. The flexi-hours scheme had been extended in order to enable staff to work even more flexibly and to take regular breaks away from the screen. Managers and staff had been supportive and appreciative of that approach. It was noted that the vast majority of staff had continued to work their standard hours with only a few variations, most notably around child care whilst schools were closed.
The Committee was aware that Government guidance remained that all employees who could work from home should continue to do so. It was therefore anticipated that in the short to medium term the majority of office based staff would continue to work from home.
In order to improve the sustainability of remote working arrangements a staff survey had been undertaken by Human Resources in order to ... view the full minutes text for item 109.
Exclusion of Press and Public
To pass the following resolution:-
“That under Schedule 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the items of business to be considered below on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act:
(a) Exempt minutes of the Resource and Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 16 November 2020”.
The meeting was adjourned whilst the Committee made its deliberations.
Exempt Minutes of the resource and Service Overview and Scrutiny Committee
To approve as a correct record, the exempt minutes of the Sub-Committee held on 16 November 2020.
The Exempt Minutes of the last meeting of the Committee held on Monday 16 November 2020 were approved as a correct record and were then signed by the Chairman.