Netcall | Customer Story

Council leads on digital

Ashfield District Council shares lessons from their transformation journey.

Project highlights

  • Aim to make every service available to residents online
  • Started with an easy, efficient reporting system
  • Use low-code tech to be digitally independent and agile
  • Offer 24/7 services
  • Share and built applications from the Netcall Community AppShare

The digital transformation team at Ashfield District Council aspires to make every service available to residents online.

We want to lead on digital, with solutions that are pleasing and accessible for customers, and we want to use cutting edge technology to make every service easy for customers to use.

Was this too much for a team of three people to achieve?

Ashfield is happy to share what they have achieved and their experience of the digital transformation journey. Starting with Environmental Services, they wanted an easy, efficient reporting system.  When residents report issues with litter or street sweeping, for example, they are often vague about the location. And it’s fairly challenging to record all of the calls and locate the problem.

Vicky Green could see the potential to transform this service. A simple, 24/7 digital “Report It” service would cut the admin work and be easier for residents. Customer satisfaction would be higher and residents would be less likely to complain on social media.

What would transformation look like?

As a team, they discussed whether to buy readymade solutions or create their own. Their preference was to build their own solutions, which they could do with low-code. Low-code enabled them build apps quickly without much technical support. This is good for the business side of the council and complies with their IT and security policies.

Low-code gave us the ability to be digitally independent and now we are continuing our transformation journey in an agile way.

Vicky Green, Digital Programme Manager for Corporate Services and Transformation

At first, there was a lot to learn. As with all new skills and processes, there were a few bumps in the road. They were not just shifting of old processes to new tech, transformation was more like a process of continuous improvement and managing expectations.

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It’s a bit like building a house. It’s important to get the foundations laid correctly for the benefit of the future build.

Two quick wins

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Ashfield’s first low-code applications went live in March 2021. Their new environmental reporting solution uses postcodes to plot an accurate map for every reported incident and the co-ordinates are sent directly to the triage centre who can send resources straight to the right location. It links with the back-office app, White Space, and allows the team to monitor incidents in real-time and report on trends.

Ashfield has also built a very successful app for Environmental Health Officers with low-code, which they delivered in just one week.

As a #localdigital #digitaldeclaration signatory Ashfield has a goal to share transformation progress with other councils. App-in-a-week is a practical way to live out these values. In February 2021, Ashfield joined a Netcall Community build with three other councils and the Environmental Health Inspections module was built in a week.

The digital inspection process removes lengthy paper forms, automates appointments scheduling and provides updates and alerts to all stakeholders. It improves productivity and helps officers keep food preparation safe in Ashfield’s schools, care homes and hospitality venues.

This app is available in the Netcall AppShare to all platform users.

What next?

We are prioritising the digital roadmap for residents and the team are currently working on a two-year Liberty Create development plan. The plan is to replace more of our apps with Liberty low-code solutions.

Vicky Green, Digital Programme Manager for Corporate Services and Transformation

The plan is to enhance the Residents’ Portal, adding more services and an online calendar of bin collection dates. It’s ambitious but it will bring useful savings on paper and printing. Some of this work is already under way.

We’ve created the foundations we need to integrate our case management solution seamlessly with our website and provide a friction-free experience for our residents.

Community delivers more

Ashfield has benefitted from Netcall’s Community Forum and the opportunity to share apps with other councils.  

“We made use of Netcall’s AppShare product Nest to help us to manage our IT helpdesk more effectively. We are customising Netcall’s app, then we can roll it out quickly and update it as the Council’s needs evolve. This effectively gives us a new IT helpdesk.”

All of this is making a big impact on how services are delivered in Ashfield. We’re sure our stakeholders will be delighted with the outcomes.

Ben Evans, Senior Digital and Web Developer


Ashfield’s tips for successful digital transformation

Managing digital transformation is challenging but there is help out there – this is the advice from the team at Ashfield:

  • Understand the big picture – have a direction and a plan, and know what the expectations are. Also remember, that it does not all have to be done at once – new features can be pushed out as they are ready.
  • It’s low-code, not no-code. Before you start work, be sure to have a dedicated team, even if it’s a small team, with dedicated time. We recommend that you consider who is undertaking the business analysis and who has coding experience, and get some good documents to help you on your journey. It’s good to have standard ways of working, testing procedures and a definition of “done”.
  • When you are starting out, it is good if you can look to a community for answers and grow your skills. Look at what others are doing, share ideas and even share solutions. We found the Netcall Community to be a great resource where we could get specialised answers to our questions from other developers. It was reassuring to have access to this information. The more this is used, the better.
  • Your Netcall project manager is a useful resource too – there’s lots of help available.

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