New ways of working and innovative approaches to customer service

Eastbourne Borough Council 

Agile working programme yields a £3m return on investment and allows staff to take a more flexible approach to their work.

Challenge summary

Under pressure to reduce costs and improve customer service, Eastbourne Borough Council looked at innovative ways of delivering public services.

Key points

  • Agile working programme delivered through close collaboration with staff, transformed business processes and new technologies
  • Implemented in an extremely tight timescale with minimal disruption to operations during the transition
  • Workforce now empowered to work effectively whatever their location, providing the service the community needs
  • Positive cultural change which places the customer at the heart of everything they do
  • Return on investment of £3 million over 10 years

The challenge

Councils are under increasing pressure to cut costs, yet deliver improved customer services. Budgetary pressures can put a strain on operational performance and because of that authorities need to look at innovative ways of delivering public services. Reducing office accommodation was the catalyst to transform the way Eastbourne Borough Council operated. The end of lease on one of these buildings provided them with an opportunity to put in place agile working – as part of a larger transformation agenda, called the DRIVE Programme. The challenge was to move to a single office and implement the transformation to agile working in just twelve months.

Our solution

Eastbourne Borough Council realised that they needed a partner to help them implement the transformation changes within an extremely tight timescale whilst ensuring minimal disruption to operations during the transition.

Sopra Steria was already responsible for the Council’s IT services. They took on responsibility for both the IT modernisation and the Agile Working Programme, delivering business process change and a complete fitout, redesign, refurbishment and re-cabling of the building.

Highlights of the programme:

  • transformation of the office working environment to support modern, efficient and flexible working practices, working with Area Sq
  • introduction of mobile and home working solutions
  • organisational review covering role analysis, reorganisation of administration support and business process engineering
  • implementation of the Civica Electronic Document and Records Management System (EDRMS) to eliminate paper and create standard workflows

How we worked together

To deliver the Agile Working Programme Sopra Steria has worked in close collaboration with staff across the council.

Job enrichment and development was a crucial outcome and as part of the process people were asked to get involved. Staff were consulted at every stage of the project in an effort to provide business processes and a working environment which will enable them to do their jobs more effectively.

A further critical outcome was to create an organisation structure that was focused on the customer rather than preserving traditional silo working. The changes to work styles mean that officers are enabled to spend more time out in the community providing the services the public needs. 

Just one year on from the programme being commissioned, it was on schedule and within budget. We managed the delivery of the internal and external building refurbishment, the introduction of mobile and flexible working technologies and reengineered business processes which are implemented via the Civica workflow tools in the EDRMS software. As a result, the programme played a major role in allowing the Council to set a balanced budget for 2011-12, despite the extremely challenging economic circumstances the sector is facing.

Results and benefits

The agile working programme has empowered the workforce to provide improved customer services and has facilitated a positive cultural change. It is also expected to deliver a return on investment of £3 million over 10 years from a budget of around £2.6 million. The programme is delivering:

  • Cost savings: saving over £300,000 per annum on the building alone. In addition, 10% efficiency savings as a result of the BPR and exploitation of new technologies
  • Improved customer services: customers now only need to visit a single council office location and staff are enabled to spend more time in the community
  • Flexible and agile workforce: the refitted building offers a more comfortable, flexible environment with a ratio of 6 hot desks for every 10 flexible/mobile workers
  • Staff benefits: focus on performance and outputs rather than presence at a desk
  • Environmental improvements: the redesign has reduced the need for air conditioning through new windows and solar shading and has reduced the Council’s carbon footprint.

Client view

"The Agile Working Programme is set to not only deliver vast savings for the council but will also allow our staff to take a more flexible approach to their work, which in turn will benefit Eastbourne residents." Robert Cottrill, Chief Executive