PDMS Context is an online platform which can help Local Authorities identify, track and report on the root causes of people’s problems and assist with trying to resolve these rather than just focussing on the presenting problems.
PDMS Context is an online platform which can help Councils identify, track and report on the root causes of people’s problems and assist with trying to resolve these rather than just focussing on the presenting problems.
The platform is designed to support service transformation by associating demands with system blockages and constraints, all of which can be tied back to the organisation's strategic objectives. Informed decisions can be made on the basis of what is actually happening rather than what might be happening.
The presenting problem is typically the symptom of another – addressing the root causes results in reducing demand which significantly reduces costs. Intervening earlier, helps avoid problems becoming more complex, reducing the interactions with multiple services and agencies – again reducing costs.
We are working with Redditch Borough Council and Bromsgrove District Council to scale up their systems thinking service transformation, aimed at understanding contextual demand to deliver better and more sustainable outcomes for customers. PDMS Context enables front line staff to focus on how to ‘help the person’, the outputs from which inform management on where to ‘fix the system’.
A different approach
Traditional software products e.g. housing, environmental or case management systems tend to be inflexible - very much built to support the traditional way of working in silos, with emphasis on the process rather than the person. Multiple siloed and disparate systems, hinder joined-up customer centric working both within a council and with external partners e.g. police, health, social services etc.
Our service transformation platform allows council employees to focus on how to ‘help the person’, the outputs from which will inform management on where to ‘fix the system’ i.e. your organisation and partner agencies as a ‘system’. It supports an understanding of root causes behind presenting demand, with the aim of delivering better and more sustainable outcomes for customers.
PDMS Context is multi-modular where each service or department can have their own system within a common platform. Each department can create IT to solve their requirements as they wish, but from a common platform that makes effective re-use of functionality and data to reduce cost, provide better data and support better and more informed decision making.
If you'd like to find out more about PDMS Context, please contact Giles Milner at [email protected] or call 01624 664000
Councils taking a "whole systems" approach
Instead of responding to the substantial funding pressures experienced by local authorities across the country by cutting frontline services, some councils are changing the way they work to put customers first. By breaking away from the traditional way of doing things the way they have always been done, and redesigning their services with people at the centre, they have delivered significant benefits to their customers whilst also saving money.
These pioneering councils have adopted a philosophy of prevention is better than cure – looking at what the presenting issues are and finding the root cause and trying to resolve that, rather than just focussing on the presenting problem.
Bromsgrove District and Redding Councils were among the first authorities nationally to embark on a transformation programme. According to their Chief Executive, Kevin Dicks, they have “spent lots of time listening to people and families to truly understand their issues and then trying to resolve the root cause of the problem rather than provide sticking plaster solutions”. These councils also recognised that many of the problems people face, the council simply can’t solve on their own and traditionally, accessing help from other organisations can be a consuming and frustrating process - bogged down in red tape and process.
Their new ‘whole systems’ approach brings together local partners including fire, police, health, housing and social services to help understand individuals and families in need with one simple purpose: ‘help me to resolve the problems (that prevent me from living a good life)’.
For example, they have redefined the role of housing officers into locality, officers, whose primary role is to support people by understanding them and the problems they need help to solve. “Locality working” has been adopted by a number of teams including Housing, Benefits, Environmental Services and the Connecting Families teams. The three guiding principles of locality working are:
- You understand me and the problems I need help to solve
- You take as long as necessary to understand me
- You do only what is necessary to create space for me to solve my problems
In these initiatives, although cost wasn’t the priority and the amount was impossible to predict in advance, overall costs fell as a consequence of providing a service that met people’s needs. These Councils have discovered that when people get their lives back on track, demand diminishes across all services. Redditch estimate that savings over £800,000 have been made over the last two years. Managing cost pushes cost up, while managing value does the opposite.
How are PDMS helping?
Both Redditch and Bromsgrove were making great progress with their transformational new “whole systems” approach but they didn’t have an IT system to help support their new way of working. They needed easy access to data to help both record and understand demand and system blockages. Traditional software products e.g. housing, environmental or case management systems tend to be inflexible - very much built to support the old traditional way of working in silos, with the emphasis on the process rather than the person, and often with expensive licences too.
We got involved to design and develop a new service transformation platform that allows council employees to focus on how to ‘help the person’, the outputs from which will inform management on where to ‘fix the system’ i.e. your organisation and partner agencies as a ‘system’. It supports an understanding of root causes behind presenting demand, with the aim of delivering better and more sustainable outcomes for customers.
All of the modules below can operate as a stand alone application or as a module in the PDMS Context platform.
Case Management Module
Online demands based case management and service transformation module designed to support customer centric service transformation and continuous improvement working. Supports evidence based decision making around measures and system constraints.
Customer Interactions Module
Allows front office staff and call handlers to record and report on all customer interactions. Problem assignment engine supports informed decision making by directing cases to the most appropriate team.
Strategic Measures Dashboard
Integrated dashboard showing measures constraints and demands across all the business. Can publish real time or snapshot reports. Takes data from multiple sources including external data and consolidates single view.
Gas Electric Utilities Servicing Module
Online Gas and Electricity Servicing module for Local Authorities. Supports process driven gas servicing with fully audited stages. Lighter process support for electrical servicing.
Rent Arrears Monitoring Module
Online rent arrears management module to support customer centric service transformation and continuous improvement working. Rent arrears profiling to identify problem cases and create management plans.
Environmental Services Ticketing Module
Web based Environmental Services ticketing module to support the capture and management of various Environmental Services demands. Supports customer centric service transformation and continuous improvement working.
With the ongoing roll of out of Universal Credit, the issue of rent arrears is set to become an increasing challenge for local authorities. A report published in September 2017, entitled “Universal Credit and Debt” by Citizens Advice, found that people on Universal Credit were more likely to be struggling with rent and Council Tax arrears – their research showed that 47% of all UC clients had rent arrears, compared to 30% of legacy benefits.
Our rent arrears solution works with your existing housing system to help you get a better understanding of your rent arrears data. It helps your team “see the wood for the trees” by highlighting the underlying issues that need addressing.
It helps save time – your busy housing team can quickly and easily access a whole raft of information to help them prioritise what part of the total arrears to focus on first. Our PDMS Context rent arrears module provides access to data to enable proactive and supportive intervention so your officers can take preventative action before it’s too late.
Your management team can also produce real-time reports which help get behind the headline numbers by understanding the composition of arrears - for example segmentation into increasing, decreasing, new and returned accounts.
- Drill down to identify problems and inform your rent collection strategy
- Provides overview figures and graphs with the ability to drill down to individual accounts and view their history.
- Quickly identify how many weeks individual accounts have been in arrears. See which accounts are newly overdrawn, are paying off or cleared and whether arrears are decreasing or increasing
- Assign accounts to rent officers
- Works with your existing housing system by using Excel-based or similar arrears reports – no integration required so you can get up and running quickly
- Secure cloud-based solution so no need to worry about hosting or infrastructure
- Available to buy on the GCloud – a quicker and easier way to procure software
- Usual model is a small charge (pence) per property per month, but we’re happy to discuss alternatives
Interested? We’d welcome the opportunity to meet with you to find out more about your rent arrear challenges and how we can help. We are also looking for partners to trial our software. We'd be happy to come and chat to you so please get in touch online or give us a call on 01624 664000.
Throughout the design and development of the original Case Measures system we always envisaged that the system would be used as the basis for other council departments to manage their workload and therefore contribute to a holistic approach to measuring council performance.
What emerged was the PPP concept – Person, Place, and Problem. These three things form the basis of a large number of responsibilities that a Council has.
During the development of the case measures system we’ve had to build a database to store addresses, tasks, customers, system users and so on, and the logic to search, create, edit and delete them.
We’ve also been flexible in that the majority of the look up lists in there, such as task categories, contact detail types, agencies, teams and so on are user configurable - meaning an admin user can tinker with them without needing us to do anything.
At a very high level the platform features:
- Security – User maintenance, log in, forgotten password, roles, permissions.
- People – Ability to capture, store and search on people records. Including configurable contact detail types, configurable external reference numbers, address history and configurable relationship types.
- Addresses – property records including UPRN with gazetteer import.
- Problem definition – Cases consisting of one or more ‘demands’ (problems to address), which are configurable.
- Activity tracking – Activities consisting of one or more ‘tasks’ with person involved, how long etc. Task and task categories are configurable.
- Simple workflow – notion of ‘intentions’ which are things that need to be done, currently used to log follow up actions, but is very flexible.
- System conditions– Things that come up which get in the way of doing the job.
After listening to various Council departments to find out what they need, we’ve come up with a set of modules for the platform:
Customer Interactions Module
- Strategic Measures Dashboard
- Gas Electric Utilities Servicing Module
- Rent Arrears Monitoring Module
- Environmental Services Ticketing Module
The overall principle is that each department who needs their own module within this platform will have their own:
- Set of configurable data, including demand types, demand categories, task categories, tasks, intention types etc.
- Bespoke screens to get data in and out in a manner that suits their business processes.
- Team types
Unlike other systems which can be too restrictive in the way they enforce business process, we’ve designed PDMS Context so that it can be flexible and adapt to changes to the way people work.
PDMS Context modules can be purchased via the UK Government's GCloud on the Digital Market Place.
The GCloud is the UK Government’s programme to adopt cloud based services and PDMS provide a range of software as service solutions and services on the GCloud framework. We work with a number of public sector organisations in England and Scotland through the G-Cloud.
GCloud provides greater flexibility and freedom for government, as departments and organisations can change service provider easily without lengthy procurement and implementation cycles, no "lock-ins" to long contracts and the freedom to quickly adopt better value and more current solutions.
All government departments, devolved administrations, local authorities, wider public sector bodies and arm’s length bodies are eligible to buy services on the Digital Marketplace. With the G-Cloud there’s no need to run a traditional OJEU or Invitation to Tenders – saving valuable procurement time and resources.
If you haven't purchased through the GCloud before we can help support you through the process.