Blog 29 September 2021

Why co-creation is a win-win for councils and housing associations

by Lynley Meyers

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Tackling your toughest strategic challenges and gaining a fresh perspective is hard. Especially when you are under pressure to do more with less. The power of sharing and collaboration shouldn’t be underestimated.

At Netcall, we have always enthused about the power of sharing and collaboration! Low-code and our Community facilitate an environment where you can bring IT and the business together to achieve amazing things. Co-creation is an extension of this idea. You can make use of work that other organisations have already done and then tailor this to perfectly suit your own needs. In both cases, you dramatically speed up digital transformation.  

We asked Lynley Meyers, Product Marketing Manager, to explain the concept and how it benefits organisations, especially those in the public sector.


First, what is low-code?


Low-code technology is the easiest way to develop business applications, fast. It’s essentially process automation on steroids. You map the process you want to create – including steps, actions and end points – and the drag-and-drop tools makes the rest quick and easy to build. Once you have your low-code app, you can test, refine and improve it on an ongoing basis using the same techniques.

With low-code, you have the power to solve process issues, fast. And cutting development time can take the pressure off IT, because non-developers can share the development work, with all the security and governance in place.

Netcall’s low-code platform is called Liberty Create. It’s faster, easier and less expensive for your teams to build applications. It’s also bursting with features that will help you automate processes to deliver outstanding customer experiences.


Why do low-code and collaboration go hand in hand?


Low-code enables process owners or business analysts, who are not software developers, to collaborate with IT on application development. Building a multidisciplinary project team enables your existing staff to upskill. This holds a triple benefit:

  • Enhance staff work quality and increase motivation
  • Upskill your teams and save by eliminating the need for contractors
  • Deliver on priorities even when it’s difficult to find and recruit IT staff

Together, they can radically improve processes because they can build quicker without the need for complex code. And they are more likely to get the process right first time when business users are guiding the process development. This makes delivering change faster and more accessible.

Within your organisation you already have process owners – Liberty Create gives you the ability to empower them to drive your business forward. How do you upskill these people? Give them to us for 3 days and we can train them in Liberty Create. Then, as they get started, they have access to a wealth of eLearning, Netcall advisers and Forums to help them to figure out any tricky elements of the builds.

We’ve found that when collaboration between IT and line of business departments takes place, great things happen. And we have so many examples and customer success stories to share.

Change isn’t just about tech, it’s about people and culture too. Create makes the tech accessible to a broader range of users, so change is a faster, more iterative process. Project teams can introduce smaller step-changes and see results quicker, compared with traditional, large-scale transformation. This delivers change that is closely aligned to the needs of the organisation. It also helps to bring people on the journey, so they begin to re-imagine a better way of doing things to deliver better experiences. They can see iterative change happening with their own eyes. 


A sharing Community


The Netcall Community is an online space for those involved with the Liberty Platform, including Liberty Create. It is a safe space to ask questions, learn from peers and increase your development as a low code builder. And the AppShare on the Community means you can download applications for free. These apps, built in Create, may provide you with the process you are looking for, which you can download and tailor to exactly suit your needs. That really speeds up your development time.  The AppShare is completely free and has over 180 apps ready to download, plus, currently, there are over 1,500 Community members on hand to share ideas and ask for advice.

Here’s a great example. South Hams District Council implemented Liberty Create during the pandemic, and urgently needed to develop a new discretionary grants solution. With just a week to deploy the application, South Hams used AppShare to download a similar app, which was previously designed by Croydon Council. By using the app as a scaffold to hang their own specific requirements from, South Hams was easy able to make meet their needs quickly.


Co-creation is an extension of this collaborative working


Once you have a project team working in low-code and pushing out new applications and processes you will see change at a rapid rate. Now imagine if you could team up with Liberty Create builders in another organisation? You could build a process together, share the workload and the expertise and reduce the development time for both organisations. Collaborative co-creation is all about improving productivity even further, and also promoting a culture of sharing ideas.

This concept is especially powerful in the public sector. One council has much the same objectives, processes and challenges as the next council. They don’t compete with each other and they are both under pressure to cut costs. So why not work together to solve the issues? Sharing the cost and effort involved to produce around 80% of the project together, then personalising and tailoring the last 20% of the task to fit with their individual processes, systems, preferences and brands.

Likewise, a housing association may be a private, commercial organisation, but they all have to handle rent arrears, repairs and inspections. Building processes together enables faster turnaround of new processes for all. Plus, working together means newly trained Create builders can learn from more experienced builders in other organisations, each sharing new approaches and ideas. It’s a win-win for both housing association and all of the tenants that they each look after as well.


The proof is in the pudding


This spring we launched our first #localdigital ‘App in week’ project. Along with council advisors, we began a design sprint to deliver an Environmental Health Inspections app. And, using the power of low-code, we built an app in just one week.

Many of our customers already embrace the co-creation approach, understanding that it saves their teams time, saves money, opens the door for new ideas and brings improved customer experience to their citizens and tenants much quicker than they could achieve alone.


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