Suffolk County Council talk to Sage
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01 Aug Suffolk County Council talk to Sage

Below is a recent article from Sage UK when speaking to Suffolk County Council about their installation of Sage CRM / Timebase inside the August issue of Government Technology Magazine.

Suffolk County Council Legal Services – facing the future with confidence

By accurately tracking valuable staff time through a Sage-based solution, Suffolk County Council Legal Services has saved time and delivered outstanding value. It has developed a highly efficient organisation, strongly positioned to meet whatever lies in store for the public sector.

Legal Services, part of Suffolk County Council’s Scrutiny and Monitoring Division, advises internal and external customers on a range of legal matters. In recent years, the legal team has benefited from a case management system that combines time recording with document management. The innovative project was one of the first examples nationally of shared local government corporate services. The aim was to make it easier to share legal expertise and capacity between councils.

Sally Longmate, Practice & Business Development Manager, explains the value the system has brought: “It underpins all our legal work, but I’d have to say that the most valuable element is the ability to track and record time.”

She gives a real-world example: “The system has been applied to a major project, which may take three months to bring to fruition. We can quantify, in an easily understood pie-chart format, exactly what activities have been required and the associated cost in terms of staff time, billed at different hourly rates – clerical, technician, managerial… This means we then bill for an amount that realistically reflects the work done.”

Economies of scale with a county-wide system

The system, developed and implemented by Sage Business Partner Tricostar, is based on the well established Sage CRM (customer relationship management) solution. Being web-based it can be accessed by staff working remotely, wherever there is an internet connection. This facilitates flexible working.

It is also shared by legal services teams across the county, who can securely exchange information with around ninety authorised users. Each authority’s legal department retains its own case files but can also share files across the eight authorities using bespoke firewalls within the system to protect the security and integrity of the data.

This gives the authorities all the benefits of a powerful web-based CRM system, which would have been beyond their reach individually.

A firm foundation for planning and budgeting

Critically, the case management system is not just about recording time. By monitoring the department’s activities and analysing the information generated, managers have gained a firm operational grasp and an in-depth understanding of the skills required to handle a complex workload. This equips them to devise a clear strategy for taking the department’s work forward.

The system also highlights opportunities for improving efficiency, as Sally notes, “It helps us to deliver best value for council tax payers’ money. As a department, we are very business-like and work smartly, operating in an extremely efficient way that enables us to provide a high level of professional service at a cost that a commercial legal firm couldn’t begin to match. Consequently, we’re streets ahead in being able to face an uncertain future with confidence.”

The strength of the system has also been recognised at corporate level and Suffolk County Council has rolled use out across other functions.

An innovative approach

Sally stresses that in the current climate, there is no room for complacency, “We’re aspirational and constantly look for new ways to extend our usage of the system. We’re considering expanding the document management side to improve access to information, both within the department and with the authorities, and to reduce the cost and space demands of archiving paper. This will definitely help us to meet our green objectives.”

About Timebase

Timebase (based on Sage CRM) can be configured to a client’s requirements without any effects on the underlying code. It comes with a powerful user driven workflow and reporting engine that enables government organisations to manage processes and share data within their various departmental organisations.

The system’s multi-layered security model permits the inter-departmental sharing of the database and the hardware platform. This significantly reduces the organisation’s overall infrastructure and knowledge costs required to maintain the system environment.

Click here to read more detail about Timebase from Tricostar.