28 Feb Epping Forest District Council Manages Workflow With Sage CRM
“The system is really good and allows us to better use, share and manage information. It helps us to save time while improving service to our internal clients.
All the relevant documentation is presented, with the system churning out the right documents, with the right information populated in all the right places. This saves a great deal of time previously spent finding and collating information.”
– Fareeza Sheikh, Senior Legal Officer, Epping Forest District Council
The Client Profile
Part of the Directorate of Corporate Support Services the Legal Services department at Epping Forest District Council handles a wide range of legal matters: from contracts to prosecutions, conveyancing to debt recovery, planning appeals, licensing, planning enforcement, traveller issues to landlord and tenant disputes.
For a relatively small council, the workload is busy and extensive. At any one time, there may be up to 1,000 cases in progress, all managed by a team of 12 staff.
With increasing pressure on resources, Legal Services sought new ways to increase its efficiency and streamline the way it manages this heavy case load, while providing a professional, good quality service.
The department needed to maintain careful watch on the time spent advising other Council departments, such as Housing, Finance, Environmental, Town Councils and Planning, on legal matters, so that it can accurately cross-charge them and meet internal accounting requirements. They discovered Sage CRM and worked with a Sage Business Partner to have it customised to support case management, time recording and a tailored workflow. As a result, it supports the requirements of legal professionals and complements their way of working.
The solution has become an integral part of the way the Legal Services team works. Now, by having instant access to critical information either in the office or out of hours, they are able to use their time more productively and better service their internal clients. The solution has also helped the service to achieve and keep its accreditation to the Law Society’s Lexcel practice management standard.
Fareeza Sheikh, Senior Legal Officer at Epping Forest District Council, commented, “The solution offered full case management, time recording, workflow and CRM capabilities. It was tailored to our type of workload and reflected typical legal processes, so it would complement our own working practices.”
Sage CRM was customised to include a time-recording component. The implementation went smoothly, and once the system had been rigorously tested, the installation and data transfer only took a few days. Fareeza said, “It was a major transformation in the way we work.
Moving over the data was relatively painless but we did make a lot of calls to our Sage Business Partner in the early days, as we got to grips with our new system. It was very reassuring to have the experts on hand and they were very good at making any adjustments.”
The solution has become an integral part of the way the Legal Services team works. Fareeza says, “The system is really good. It does what we need it to. It helps us to save time while improving service to our internal clients. During phone calls, we have the information right in front of us on our screens, rather than having to trawl through filing-cabinets. Furthermore, we can pick up colleagues’ cases, if they’re out of the office.
All the documentation and their annotations on anything especially noteworthy are all there.” “We’re self-compliant as a department and having a clear record of where time has been spent enables supervisors to check whether our targets are being met in terms of hours worked.
It helps us to see, quite literally, where all the time goes.” The system is accessed by up to 25 users across the council including colleagues in other departments, such as a committee officer who views the progress on cases and a finance officer who uses it to gain updates on debt recovery. The council’s typing bureau also records new cases on the system. The solution is web-based and can be securely accessed remotely.
This means that any user can review their cases outside office hours. Improved workflow management is another important benefit of this solution. Legal Services can implement workflow in order to control and formalise business processes. This ensures all aspects of the council’s legal work is handled, documented and recorded consistently, according to set processes and without reinventing the wheel every time.
Fareeza says, “The advantages of using the system for workflow are substantial. We are prompted with the next step, and checks and balances ensure our processes are always followed correctly. All the relevant documentation is presented, with the system churning out the right documents, with the right information populated in all the right places. This saves a great deal of time previously spent finding and collating information.”
She notes that, once again, as well as improving the efficiency of the individual, it makes it much easier to pick up a case for an absent colleague: “We know exactly what we’re meant to be doing; we simply click on the next stage. It’s a great time-saver. Everything we need to know about the case, with all the contact details, is available in a single, centralised location. We can add comments, perhaps from a phone call with a planning consultant, for example, and note anything critical, such as waiting for a court date.”
Tricostar continues to provide longterm support to the Legal Services department. Fareeza says, “In a fastchanging world, Tricostar are always reliably there to provide knowledgeable support and fix any problems very quickly.”
- A system closely tailored to legal processes and terminology
- Improved workflow to ensure standard processes are consistently followed
- A single, consolidated source of information on cases that all the team can access
- Efficient cross-charging, with all time spent accurately recorded
- Reliable responsive support from Sage Business Partner Tricostar