Digital Self Service: Why are councils still struggling to deliver better and more efficient online services?
Digital Self Service: Why are councils still struggling to deliver better and more efficient online services? 1000 666 Simon Hollingworth


At LocalGovCamp18 in Birmingham we ran a session aimed at local authority leaders who are concerned that the execution of their digital self-service strategies are not delivering the desired outcomes.

We looked to uncover and discuss why many councils are still struggling to implement these changes; and for those who have, why are those changes failing to deliver on the expected service improvements and operational efficiencies.

In the session we aimed to:

  • Review the progress councils have made implementing their self-service strategies
  • Take a user’s perspective on the effectiveness and ease of use of a selection of online services
  • Explore the barriers to successful digital transformation and why they are not being removed
  • Identify strategies councils can adopt to ensure online services deliver a better user experience for citizens and businesses.


So what did we discover?

Our aim was to be able to answer the 3 follow up points around the key question of “Why are councils still struggling to deliver better and more efficient online services?”

  1. Are your digital self-service strategies delivering the desired outcomes?
  2. Are you still struggling to implement the changes you set out 8 years ago?
  3. Are the changes you have made delivering the expected service improvements and operational efficiencies?

“So what do we need to achieve to deliver these fantastic Digital Self Services”, was the question we posed to the room.  And then we listened (and listened) and…

There was much to be said around this topic, especially the blockers that were inhibiting progress.  The benefits are clear and obvious but there are fundamental blockers to progress that must be addressed to create a positive platform for progress, including:

A fear of engaging with customers/citizens during the service design and user experience (UX) phases for numerous reasons including: because they don’t want to be criticised for wasting money, are afraid of hearing the truth about the current quality of service provided and importantly, don’t always have the available budget (which surely is a mistake if you create a poor UX that delivers failure demand then the budget will be spent on putting things right rather than investing in being proactive and getting it right first time?)

Councils are prudent/risk averse and see change as a huge risk, particularly if it requires a big change and potentially large investment.  They will generally only change if they feel savings will be significant and the risk is low.  They also prefer to stay with what they know, even if better alternatives exist, unless they are forced to change for political reasons.

A challenge for new suppliers especially, is they prefer established products and solutions and anything new or bespoke is seen as a risk that may not work and can’t be seen/tested beforehand.

Collaboration is firmly sitting in the difficult box, for numerous reasons, i.e. trust, ego, pride, politics, etc… all get in the way of doing what they should be doing, i.e. reducing costs by working together effectively.

Focus and priorities are key in the current economic climate. As one delegate wisely said: “We are still trying to digitally transform as an organisation so digitally transforming services are only one of many priorities we have to juggle”. This may also go a long way to explaining the reticence in engaging users in the process of digitising council services. If enough of the decision makers are not not ‘digital savvy’ and do not fully understand how moving services online will benefit both council and citizens,  they are bound to see more risks than opportunities.


In summary

So what did we learn from that?  Well, millions are being spent on serving customers poorly using out of date processes and supporting legacy technologies and often not supporting the channel the customer selects eg: not formatted for mobiles.   These barriers to excellent modern customer service provision need to be overcome whilst balancing the risk versus opportunity; remembering that digital transformation means transforming people as well as systems.  Fear must not paralyse action and we all need to be brave and wise enough to be driven by citizens needs and providing an excellent user experience.

Insurance Survey: Unlocking the Power of Data to Produce Actionable Insights
Insurance Survey: Unlocking the Power of Data to Produce Actionable Insights 1024 683 Simon Hollingworth

The team here at Software Solved love problem solving. We’re pleased to share some of our useful resources and insights with you. These have been selected based on the areas we’ve helped our clients with. We hope you find them useful and if there’s anything we can do to help you, we’d love to talk to you.

We love solving technical problems. We’re pleased to share some of our useful resources and insights from our work developing bespoke software for clients.
Insurance: Unlocking the Power of Data to Produce Actionable Insights
Data has been called the new oil, the lifeblood and a valuable currency. So, insurers are fortunate in that most have vast amounts of this most precious commodity. But, are they maximising its potential or is it too often an untapped resource?

There’s no doubt some insurers are starting to leverage the value in their data, even if an elite group is starting to pull away from the rest of the pack. However, as the rise of InsurTech shows, size is no barrier since smaller providers can prove highly effective through using with the right technology and, not least, having a forward-thinking mind-set when it comes to sharing data.

Whether or not insurance is playing a big enough role in the data revolution is a moot point. The technology now exists to connect legacy systems, while machine learning and analytics allow for transformational work to take place, with the goal for many insurers being to turn their data into actionable insights. The question is, will this remain a goal or become a reality?

Software Solved, who work with a range of large and small insurers to deliver Risk & Claims Management Systems as well as data rich Customer Portals, are seeking to better understand this crucial area and so we conducted a research project, in conjunction with Insurance Post. This involved speaking to around 60 providers, covering commercial and personal lines, and with those providing opinions including directors and professionals from various disciplines including underwriting, claims, risk management and IT.

Download this report from an in-depth analysis of the research findings.

Why Not-For-Profits Need to Ensure Applications are Cross-Platform
Why Not-For-Profits Need to Ensure Applications are Cross-Platform 1000 667 Simon Hollingworth

It takes considerable resource to build, test and launch an application – people, time and money. Most not-for-profits don’t have these resources in abundance. So if you’re going to build an application, why wouldn’t you launch an application that works across all devices and platforms; and even works when there is no internet access?

Keep your users happy and engaged

It’s a no-brainer. But you would be surprised how many applications are launched that give a poor user experience on one platform, but an amazing one on another. To reach your entire audience you need to ensure your application gives a consistent user experience regardless of whether it’s an Android, i-Phone or a Windows device. That’s what we mean when we talk about cross-platform.

As a charity or public-sector organisation, you will want your application to engage in a meaningful way with your target audience regardless of the device they are using. You need to be clear on the ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘who’ and ‘when’ of your application before any coding begins. A good development company will work with you to scope this out.

Offline connectivity

A really thorough development company will use technology that ensures your application not only works across platforms, but also works when users are ‘occasionally connected’. This means they may not be online 100{7465c2450dcd042996416963879c72771606ba211532680daeb6e67dd6282842} of the time. For example you may have a staff member or volunteer using the application in an area where there is no internet connection. Ensuring your application has offline and online functionality means no data will be lost when the application is used without connectivity, as the data can be synced later when the user has internet access.

To generate maximum return on your IT investment and to ensure you are giving your target audience a seamless user-experience, you need to ensure your application is truly cross-platform.

You can read about a recent cross-platform application we developed for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Or, if you’re ready to see how a cross-platform app could benefit your organisation, talk to us today.

Power BI Webinar: How to build dashboards for any budget
Power BI Webinar: How to build dashboards for any budget 150 150 dan.macduff

Power BI Webinar: How to build dashboards for any budget

Power BI: is it worth the cost?

Quality Business Intelligence (BI) drives effective decision making. Today’s BI techniques and tools allow you to transform raw data into meaningful and useful information at the touch of a button. Watch the live recording of our latest webinar to learn more about the different tools available and their costs, features and limitations.

Catch up on the webinar now to see:

  • Demos of Power BI and SQL Server Mobile Reports
  • Key considerations for selecting the right tool for your business
  • How to manage your data from disparate sources to fuel your dashboards

This webinar was first broadcast on 20th October. To register for future Software Solved events or webinars email marketing@softwaresolved.com or call 020 7127 4558 for further information about your business’ data analytics.

How GDPR Can Drive Your Digital Transformation Plans
How GDPR Can Drive Your Digital Transformation Plans 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

By now you know that GDPR is coming in less than 12 months, and with it the eye-watering fines for those organisations found to be in breach of it. If not, our blog ‘What is GDPR?’ should help.

Let’s start off by saying GDPR is non-negotiable. It will impact organisations of every shape and size as every organisation uses data to a lesser or greater extent. When organisations can embrace GDPR, and what’s required to ready themselves, rather than fear it, they can use GDPR to their advantage.

How does GDPR link to Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is the process of an organisation embracing new technology to make itself and its processes more efficient. It will not be news to any of you that plans and initiatives run far better when they have a goal or target in mind. Here’s the crux: use the upcoming GDPR regulation as an organisational objective, and tie your digital transformation directly to that.

If you’d like to know more, read our blog ‘What is a Digital Transformation?’

Let’s go into a bit more detail. There are several talking points in GDPR (we won’t go into them all here), one of which is data availability. I.e. a customer or user can request to see what data your organisation holds on them. All organisations have a duty to provide this. The thought of having to collate data about one individual that could potentially exist across four or five disparate systems is probably nightmare inducing. Here’s where Digital Transformation comes in. A robust digital strategy will include plans for system integration and getting a single-view of data. An organisation who has well integrated systems that communicate readily, and has eradicated data siloes is far better placed to deal with these requests – as a result of their Digital Transformation work.

Why GDPR should drive your Digital Transformation

GDPR is, quite naturally, a scary proposition for many, and for others, a boring tick-box exercise. It doesn’t have to be either. Instead try to think of it as an opportunity to get ahead of the game, and ahead of your competitors. The right blend of technology and improvements in business processes is critical to regulatory (GDPR) and Digital Transformation success.

Fully automated and transparent processes will help you improve data availability, integrity and security – all of which are central to being GDPR compliant. Using that objective (becoming GDPR compliant) as a catalyst to update old and clunky systems or processes will give your organisation the upper-hand over competitors at the same time as improving your user and customer experience – win-wins all round.

GDPR is definitely coming, and the punitive fines will definitely be eye-watering – but it doesn’t have to be scary. Think of it as a golden opportunity to kickstart those Digital Transformation plans that have taken a back burner.

If you’re ready to use GDPR as a catalyst for your Digital Transformation plans, talk to us today.

Key Considerations for Data Flow Mapping
Key Considerations for Data Flow Mapping 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

Your Data Flow Map will be entirely unique to your organisation so it is hard to give a fool proof method for doing it. That being said, there are some key things you need to think about along the way, and we’ll look at those now.

You can read out blog about How Data Flow Mapping Can Get You Compliant with GDPR here.

The key elements of Data Flow Mapping

The key elements of what you will be looking for will focus around what the data is, what format it is kept it, how it is transferred and where it is stored.

  • For data think; name, email, address, health data, criminal records, location data, bank details etc.
  • For format think; Paper copies, USB drives, databases
  • For transfers think; post, telephone, email, social media, internal, file share services such as Dropbox etc.
  • For locations think; on site (in the office), in the cloud, or with a third party.

Getting the most out of Data Flow Mapping

Now you know what it is you’re looking for, and how to assess it, how do you go about finding these things out? We have listed some questions below, along with some techniques and methods you can apply to help get the most out of it.

Asking yourself the following will help get you moving;

  • How is Personally Identifiable Information (PII) collected? By phone, email, online forms, paper forms etc.
  • Who is responsible for collecting it?
  • Where and how is that data stored?
  • Who has access to where the data is stored? (Hint: if it is paper copies stored on site, think about who has keys or even just access to that room)
  • Is the information shared with anyone? Partners or third parties for example.
  • Do any of the systems information is stored on transfer it to any other systems? If so, you’ll need to make sure these are included in your map as well.

There are a few different ways and settings in which to ask these questions as well. Our favourite, and probably the most productive is workshops. Setting out some time to sit down and focus on this means you can achieve quite a lot. Key things to think about here is to involve the right people – i.e. you want people that have access to the data and an understanding of at least part of its journey through the organisation.

Other techniques you can think about; start by inspecting existing documents and plot where they sit on the map. Try questionnaires to your staff to see how their daily tasks interact with the data, and maybe consider observing work in the office or wherever you’re based to see how the path of data is affected and interacted with day-to-day.

Data Flow Mapping should be seen as one of the earlier stages of becoming compliant with GDPR. After all, how do you know what needs to change if you’re not sure what the current situation is? It may seem obvious to say it, but this process will highlight any strengths and weaknesses and the short and long-term actions you may need to take to address them.

GDPR is coming, and will impact every organisation. With less than a year to go its important that people get a handle on their data, or risk the ICO’s wrath. If you’d like to know more about how Data Flow Mapping can help you become GDPR compliant, talk to us today.

How Data Flow Mapping Can Get You Compliant With GDPR
How Data Flow Mapping Can Get You Compliant With GDPR 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

Data Flow Mapping is the process of documenting the flow of information from one physical location to another. It enables you to track data from its entry point into your organisation, right through to its exit point – and everywhere in between. Getting a handle on how, where and why data moves through your organisation is central to complying with GDPR. Let me explain why.

Risk is one of the critical themes of GDPR. It is mentioned over 60 times in the regulation. With such a keen focus on risk, you need to be able to properly risk assess your data, your systems and your processes. Until data flows have been assessed and mapped they cannot be effectively secured against known risks – which will lead to data breaches and large fines from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). With fines due to be reaching up to 20 million Euros, or 4{7465c2450dcd042996416963879c72771606ba211532680daeb6e67dd6282842} of turnover (whichever is higher), you really cannot afford to take this lightly.

For an over of GDPR, read our blog: What is GDPR?

So how will Data Flow Mapping help your business comply with GDPR?

Data Flow Mapping will do a number of things that will help you to get compliant with GDPR. Not least of all because, should the worst happen and a data breach occurs, being able to show the ICO evidence that you have done things like Data Flow Mapping to reduce those critical risk levels will mean lower fines and less harsh sanctions.

Data Flow Mapping will also:

  • Produce a data inventory of your organisation’s Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
  • Create a picture of your data’s origins, paths, exit points, access points and storage locations.
  • Improve your data lifecycle management.

Once completed, it will become clear where the risk points are, and how you can reduce them. For example, you’ll be able to discover if a department has access to data that it shouldn’t, or whether you are holding on to data for too long if it doesn’t have a clear exit path. As we have already said, reducing these risks is what becoming GDPR compliant is all about.

Later this week we’ll be talking in more detail about Data Flow Mapping, how to get the most out of it, and the best approaches to use with it. Keep your eyes peeled.

GDPR is coming, and will impact every organisation. With less than a year to go its important that people get a handle on their data, or risk the ICO’s wrath. If you’d like to know more about how Data Flow Mapping can help you become GDPR compliant, talk to us today.

How to make software user friendly
How to make software user friendly 150 150 dan.macduff

User experience is a critical element to ensuring that a new software system is successful. If users do not find it easy and enjoyable to use it’s likely they will avoid using it or, just not use it at all.

Why download our guide to making software user-friendly?

In this SlideShare you will discover:

  • 10 things you should consider when designing software with end users in mind
  • Tips for ensuring your software development isn’t just about functionality but usability too

View the SlideShare today to discover how to make your software user-friendly.


Salesforce Integration: how to integrate Salesforce with other applications
Salesforce Integration: how to integrate Salesforce with other applications 150 150 dan.macduff

Salesforce Integration: how to integrate Salesforce with other applications

With many organisations adopting cloud CRM systems, how do you ensure that all of your business applications ‘talk’? In this case study, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity were looking to integrate their custom Salesforce solution with an existing bespoke casework management application. The project enables staff to work from one central system without re-keying or duplicating data.

Learn how to connect disparate apps and streamline data between systems

Watch the presentation to discover:

  • Top tips for implementing successful software integration
  • The benefits of application integration
  • How to overcome the challenges of system integration

This presentation was filmed at The Charity Technology Conference 2016. To register for future Software Solved events or webinars email marketing@softwaresolved.com or call 020 7127 4558 for further information.

To discuss your integration requirements with a Data Solved expert, get in touch with us today.

Free Power BI Interactive Demo Available Now
Free Power BI Interactive Demo Available Now 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

Experience the interactive power of data visualisation – see the full picture in one pane.

We’ve been pushing the value of data visualisation tools for a little while now – and that’s because we mean it, there are huge benefits to be gained from them. We’ve done blogs on what ‘Business Intelligence’ software actually is, and how data visualisation enables organisations to get the full view – transforming the way they work. But now it’s your turn to see the value for yourselves – first hand.

Why you should try Microsoft Power BI

You can access the free demo here.

Microsoft Power BI can connect to hundreds of data sources, simplify that data, and present it in meaningful and insightful ways. No more collating spreadsheets from different departments that don’t quite match up. Use Power BI instead to produce visually engaging reports and share them with your organisation, whether that’s other staff members or even customers.

Once published you can share these reports on the web and they can be accessed from mobile devices. Give everyone who needs it a better view of your organisation. Empower your users, colleagues and customers with relevant data.

Experience the power of data visualisation

Getting up close and personal with Microsoft Power BI really is the best way to experience it. Our free demo comes pre-loaded with real company data so you don’t have to worry about that. This means you can jump straight into the digital dashboards.

Play around with the different visualisation options available, zoom into maps to pinpoint geographical data, click on charts to drill deeper into specific data sets, and look at different ways of analysing data trends. There are so many options in Power BI and our free demo gives you the chance to see the value for yourself.

Download the free demo today

If you’d like more information on our data visualisation services, click here.

Alternatively, if you’re ready to realise the potential of data visualisation for your organisation, talk to us today, we’d love to hear from you.