West Lindsey District Council
By adopting TechnologyOne’s OneCouncil solution, West Lindsay District Council has simplified business systems, improved end-to-end processes and empowered employees.
West Lindsey District Council, in Lincolnshire, East of England, counts 42,300 households and more than 3,500 businesses across 20 wards. It is the second least densely populated local authority area in the East Midlands, with an area equivalent to two football pitches per resident.
Given funding constraints over the last decade, the small district council has put considerable effort into becoming more efficient, reducing staffing numbers yet maintaining quality, award-winning services. Good financial management is absolutely key to this pursuit.
“Having accurate insights into our finances is so crucial. It gives confidence public money is accounted for in an appropriate manner so members of the public, stakeholders, and other interested parties can be assured the financial position of the council is sound and secure,” explained West Lindsey District Council’s Ian Knowles.
But the council’s previous finance systems weren’t user friendly and provided very little intelligence. The small and stretched finance team had to carry out a lot of manual inputting and data manipulation to put information in to reports that provided the context needed by the organisation, decision makers and councillors.
In 2020, the council launched Together24, a transformation programme that firmly puts residents at the centre, ensuring the council provides excellent services and good value for money, all the while having a highly motivated skilled workforce.
As part of this ambitious vision, the council, led by Director of Corporate Services and Section 151 Officer Emma Foy, embraced a new way of doing things, implementing TechnologyOne’s OneCouncil solution. The aim was to deliver cost savings, efficiencies and improve the local authority’s operational performance to ultimately improving customer experience.
OneCouncil is the golden thread between our corporate plan, operational plans and service planning.
TechnologyOne’s OneCouncil, is an integrated whole-of-council software solution that significantly reduces the time, cost and risks associated with large scale implementations. The solution was implemented on time and budget, which gave employees a lot of confidence in the project.
The innovative solution has consolidated the councils’ technology stack, simplified business systems in one platform and improved end-to-end business process workflows. Today the team runs the council accounts, general ledger, bank reconciliation, purchasing and invoicing all through OneCouncil.
Ms Foy said the solution introduced much smarter ways of working: “TechnologyOne’s OneCouncil is a million miles away from where we were. It helps us deliver business improvements as well as cost efficiencies, and bring with it better business intelligence capabilities, automation and integration.”
“It is giving us better access to corporate data and clearer management information, the finance team has access to analytics and insights that improve their decisions making, which is absolutely key given the limited discretionary funding available.”
Employees can use OneCouncil any time, using any device, wherever they are.
“It’s absolutely empowered our workforce. People don’t need to wait until they’re in the office or on their laptop to action some of the decision making, they can quickly view and approve requests and actions on their phones. The benefits of carrying out finance tasks anywhere really flattened the change curve for people. When they realised the flexibility they had, the prospect of something new didn’t feel scary,” Ms Foy said.
A staff member added: “I can work from any device, any time, meaning I can attend school events or do the school run without any detriment to the performance of the finance team.”
OneCouncil has helped West Lindsey save significant time on reporting. Despite the new system going live that year, the 2021/22 accounts were completed on time, with West Lindsey being one of the few councils in the country to meet the audit certification deadline. The 2022/23 accounts were completed by mid-May enabling the council to easily meet the 2023/24 deadline when it was brought forward.
“The full budget report for Member approval and Council Tax setting in February took two hours rather than the two weeks it used to take before we implemented OneCouncil, and we have eradicated the use of spreadsheets and unstructured filing,” said Ms Foy.
Forecasting has also been improved enabling the council to run forecast position reporting on Disabled Facilities Grants that identified the need to invest a further £150,000 in Disabled Facilities Grants to ensure people could stay in their own homes for longer.
“Without OneCouncil’s forecasting tools, we couldn’t have planned or found the additional spend to maintain service delivery to some of the most vulnerable people in our community,” said Ms Foy.
Performance measurement, management and reporting tools also help the team seamlessly manage operational KPIs and other performance-related data. Finance and Property Services have maintained 100% of Key Performance indicators over the last 12 months.
“For the first time we have a true project accounting enabling us to keep track of our £13m Levelling Up grant funding expenditure. We also have one report that reports by project rather than segregation between revenue and capital spend, which is incredibly useful for busy programme leads and sponsors,” Ms Foy said.
OneCouncil’s easy-to-use user interface has empowered the entire team to operate in a more efficient and effective way, with different teams having access to straightforward information dashboards and simple-to-use applications. The format of reports is easy to understand by the council’s operational staff, giving them the ability to self-serve without having to refer to finance colleagues. This has allowed the council to operate with a reduced staffing structure.
“Having e-forms for every task written in ‘non-finance speak’ means people have not been as anxious as they might be usually with a new system, which has significantly helped with take up,” Ms Foy said.
The move to a modern, integrated solution has been transformative for the council. It has helped the team deliver on the council’s priorities, providing significant business improvements and cost efficiencies by automating workflows, standardising reporting and business processes, and improving data accuracy.
“OneCouncil is the golden thread between our corporate plan, operational plans and service planning,” concluded Ms Foy.
West Lindsey District Council
The district of West Lindsey covers the area immediately north of Lincoln and forms the northwest gateway to Lincolnshire, covering an area of 115,733 hectares. The district is predominantly rural and provides an attractive setting for its three market towns of Caistor, Gainsborough and Market Rasen. The district is the 17th most sparsely populated area in England with a population density of 77 people per square kilometre.
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