We look at how InPhase changed and improved the council’s performance culture. An interview with Matthew Walters (Principal Policy Officer) & John Saddington (Policy Officer)
"We have implemented a state of art, user friendly dynamic system and that’s why we made the investment."
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Before we partnered with InPhase, we had a competing solution which we outgrew but it was actually a great learning opportunity for us. We knew that to really drive performance improvement we needed a modern, much more dynamic and engaging solution, that would engage our end users.
We identified 3 critical areas that would facilitate this for us. First was the visualisation of data, including great infographics, and a corporate and modern look and feel. End users wanted easy to understand, and easy to interrogate software.
Secondly the legacy system had become very departmentalised but lost impetus. We needed something that reduced double keying data at the service level and rather than hindering the operational part of the business, would engage them. Automating the processes including data from back end systems as much as possible was seen as critical for this.
We also wanted to give the services access to the transaction data in new and exciting ways, so they had a new perspective, but to simultaneously automate the aggregate top-level helicopter views too.
We started in real performance management style and identified our project goals. The biggest corporate issue, but therefore also opportunity, was to break down organisational silos and work more in unison. Maximum engagement from at the service areas was essential to achieve this.
The service engagement started with workshops, bringing together the key people and data owners to identify relevant and significant key indicators, where the data would automate from, the source systems involved, the frequency and level of detail. This process of engagement was really successful. We worked with departmental teams and built from the bottom up, bringing people with us as we went. I think potentially this made the time to implement longer than it needed to be, but it was hugely successful.
Latterly we rolled up the information to give a clear picture of corporate performance. By doing it this way around we created critical mass of context . As a result of the level of interest form the departments, we are continually evolving and helping people to answer more and more performance questions. The solution is continually evolving to help people make better faster decisions.
InPhase delivers interactive and push reporting across the Council. We have a Corporate Management Team, Strategic Directors and Managers, who receive regular helicopter level assurance reports on a quarterly basis. However, this is supported with follow-ups, the Derbyshire indicator set and exception reporting flagging where things are going off track or performance has changed. The solution then supports fully interactive deep dives into the detail on a rolling basis.
We also do a very comprehensive full annual end of year report generated from the system. Departmentally InPhase is being used to feed quarterly performance clinics with service area managers. We are actively encouraging our users to interact with InPhase as much as possible and move from paper-based reporting, although both are possible.
Well, we delivered our project goals to start with! We have implemented a state of art, user friendly dynamic system and that’s why we made the investment.
The process of business assurance and performance management is now efficient and effective. The fully automated process of data collection, and visualisation has reduced manual keying of data, given us the depth and breadth of information needed and essentially driven up confidence in the quality of the data.
Accessibility of information is light years away from how it was before and literally anyone can use the system, it’s that simple. We have much greater content, with dramatically more depth and breadth and information is much more timely. Decisions we make now are faster and have a greater impact.
Our Managers can clearly see their direction of travel, the overall performance, how that benchmarks against other councils and what we are doing about it. These at a glance judgements are incredibly valuable in working out where we need to focus our efforts.
"We knew that to really drive performance improvement we needed a modern, much more dynamic and engaging solution, that would engage our end users."
The major change was making information accessible and accurate. For example, now we have information at a transactional level this clearly identified anomalies in how indicators were being calculated. We consequently identified cases where it is being done out of sync out of the national benchmarks. Organisationally this has meant we now take a different approach to capturing and calculating that data.
That’s a tricky one… The best way to answer that is, I can’t see that we could take it away. Its delivered countenance as an authority, delivering the right information to the right people at the right time. Put simply, I don’t think we would be able to perform our corporate function without a platform as good as InPhase.