Established in 1992, OneSearch Direct is the largest local search data company in the UK, providing property information and conveyancing search reports to solicitors nationwide. OneSearch Direct were one of the founding members of the Council of Property Search Organisation (CoPSO) and The Property Codes Compliance Board (PCCB) and have over 20 years’ industry expertise in property data searches.
Pulsion has worked with OneSearch for over 15 years, providing a wide range of software development services, additional specialist technical resource and support and maintenance for their business critical systems. Pulsion act as an extension to OneSearch’s own internal IT team and compliment their IT activity as and when required. This relationship delivers considerable business benefit and return on investment.
In the beginning …
More than 15 years ago, OneSearch tendered for a technology partner to re-develop their existing certificate management system (CMS) – their database of property search certificates. CMS managed the process of gathering all the relevant property and land information required during the course of a property sale and was fundamental to the success of their business. In order for OneSearch to remain competitive and deliver a valued service, continual development and support of the system was important. OneSearch recognised that a specialist technology partner would be required to recommend the best development approach and support the application on an ongoing basis. After working with OneSearch to develop an understanding of their core business objectives, needs and wants for CMS, Pulsion were able to deliver their recommendations for the CMS development project. Pulsion was able to illustrate their depth of technical expertise in software development, their flexible support and maintenance offering and their ability to deliver on time and to budget. Based on this, their proposal was successful. After the re-development of CMS was completed, Pulsion provided ongoing development, support and maintenance of the system. Extending the partnership Over time, OneSearch recognised that peaks and troughs in IT project activity was becoming a challenge to manage internally. They were also keen to have access to a wider range of technical skills that could compliment their in-house IT team, especially when considering future developments for their CMS database. Having a technical resource that OneSearch could call upon as projects dictate would address the challenge of fluctuating demands and make available a wider variety of technical skills. Consequently, OneSearch would not have to undergo a lengthy recruitment process to find their own full time employees, train them and keep them occupied with an interesting, challenging and very often changeable work load.
As Pulsion were already a trusted provider of software development and support and maintenance services, and could point to a successful track record of delivery and technology innovation, they were in a prime position to be able to extend their support services to include OneSearch’s further technical requirements. OneSearch now work collaboratively with Pulsion’s support and software development team as if they were an extension to their own in-house IT department.
- Pulsion was able to offer OneSearch the flexibility of having additional technical resource available to call upon at short notice as demands or skills requirements dictates. Working alongside OneSearch’s own in-house IT department ensured the continuity of service during fluctuations in demand and offers a wider range of technical expertise than existed in-house.
- Pulsion’s software development team offer advice and guidance around the continual development of CMS to take advantage of technology changes, efficiencies in operation and reduction in system costs.
The continuation of the support and maintenance service provides OneSearch with access to Pulsion’s Helpdesk where they can report issues via the telephone, email or web-based issue tracking system. This ensures that contracted Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are being met and OneSearch are updated with the progress of any reported issues at each stage.
Benefits to OneSearch Over the years
OneSearch has come to rely upon Pulsion’s expertise and flexible approach. The working relationship and cultural compatibility that has developed means that OneSearch and Pulsion both fully understand each other’s businesses and capabilities – this creates a productive platform for planning future business and technology changes. The partnership between OneSearch and Pulsion has delivered the following benefits; • OneSearch’s CMS solution was migrated away from a desktop based application to a web solution saving them considerable infrastructure cost overall. They have also taken advantage of Pulsion’s expertise in understanding advanced technologies and how they can solve business problems and create efficiency. In many cases, Pulsion has been able to automate repetitive manual jobs, shortening the amount of time spent on a task.
- Having Pulsion on hand to support IT projects and provide alternative skills and experience has meant that OneSearch can avoid the cost of recruiting, training and retaining full time in-house IT staff and take advantage of the skills pool available as and when required.
- OneSearch can also enjoy the peace of mind that their business critical system, CMS, is in safe hands with Pulsion’s support and maintenance service.
As well as supporting CMS, OneSearch and Pulsion continue to work together to help improve their business processes, product offering and compliance/legal changes and are always on the lookout for containing costs and improving efficiency.
Elizabeth Jarvis, Managing Director of OneSearch stated
“We have worked with Pulsion for over 15 years – in that time the relationship has evolved from one of a supplier of technical services to a trusted advisor for our business critical systems. We hold a great deal of trust in Pulsion’s expertise and always been extremely happy with the quality of service they provide.”
“More specifically, Pulsion has been instrumental in the evolution of our business critical Certification Management System. This is set to continue as technology advances and the services OneSearch provides to our customers evolve.”
Forestry Commission Scotland Originally, there was only one Forestry Commission website that covered the UK. In order to improve the user experience and to provide the user with the most relevant information, Forestry Commission Scotland decided to create its own separate website with a new design and a modern and flexible IT solution. Aims and Objectives The main aims and objectives of the project were to:
- Implement a new, modern website system with flexible development options; Joomla!
- Create custom features to integrate into the Joomla content management system and meet FCS’s specific requirements
- Create a clear structure, helpful search facility and user friendly navigation options to help users to find the information they are looking for
- Provide a fit-for-purpose platform for meeting current and emerging business and end user needs over the medium term
- Maximise site usability, meet accessibility standards and FCS brand guidelines
- Cater for mobile users by building a website with a responsive design that alters depending on the size of the user’s screen
FCS was looking to engage with an IT partner who could redevelop the existing website onto a new flexible web platform, with an new front-end design and improved user experience. It would be vital for the chosen partner to work closely with Forestry Commission Scotland so to fully understand both the technical and branding requirements. A key deliverable of the project was also to provide site administration training to FCS publishing staff. FCS invited several companies within the Public Sector framework to tender for the project which resulted in Pulsion Technology being awarded the contract. A Tailored Solution Utilising the Joomla! content management system, version 2.5 with a MySQL database and custom PHP components,
Pulsion built FCS a flexible web platform with custom features so to meet with all the requirements. Having a flexible publishing system allows FCS’s publishing team to be more productive and focused on giving the user a fulfilling experience. The website is more structured, usable, and accessible for the FCS’s end users. Pulsion has built the system with the future in mind, ensuring that, as the FCS grows and needs change, the system is flexible enough to change with it.
Visit the new Forestry Commission Scotland Website at scotland. http://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/
Making life easier through improved advice services
Multi-Agency Referral & Tracking Case Study Renfrewshire Council
As part of Renfrewshire Council’s ‘Tackling Poverty Strategy 2015-2017’, the Commission reported on its child poverty findings and proposed recommendations for responding. The report covers a wide range of social impacts and sets out its strategy to help Renfrewshire families in poverty. As a result of the report, Renfrewshire Council set aside funding for 52 individual projects, one of which was to join up advice services in Renfrewshire. The Advice Partnership Renfrewshire project is already making a difference to people living in the area and aims to “… make advice as easy to access as possible in Renfrewshire, ensuring people who need advice can get appointments quickly and at a convenient place.” (Renfrewshire Council, 2015) Advice Partnership Renfrewshire comprises of 12 advice agencies including Shelter, Citizens Advice Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire Wide Credit Union and Recovery Across Mental Health and all deliver a wide range of specialist support services to the general public. These invaluable services offer advice and support covering a variety of needs such as housing, legal, debt and money advice, and health concerns.
Historically, when a member of the public approached an agency for help, it was often the case that the individual would need to be referred to another more appropriate advice agency, or a collection of advice agencies due to the complexity of their needs. To establish the individuals’ precise support requirements, a certain amount of information would need to be recorded and logged in the advice agency’s database. The support worker would then decide on which advice agency or agencies would provide the most appropriate support and start to contact them to make the appointments.
The task of creating these referral appointments with another advice agency or multiple advice agencies involved support workers calling and/or emailing individuals within the other agencies. This would often depend upon any pre-existing relationships between support workers in partner agencies. The sort of challenges that this caused both for the agencies and the individuals were wide ranging. • The speed of manually processing each advice agency enquiry was often hampered by repeating and re-keying the same information numerous times as individual advice agencies had their own separate databases. There was no infrastructure in place to share an individual’s information with other agencies. •
- There was no single system in place to create, manage and track multiple referral appointments and no quick way to monitor the progress of an individual’s referral. As a result, limited updates could be given to the individual as to the progress of their case, putting both the individual and the advice agencies under considerable stress.
- Setting up multiple referral appointments with other agencies was via specific contacts which could add to delays if specific support workers were not present or on holiday. In collaboration with Renfrewshire Council and Advice Partnership Renfrewshire, Pulsion Technology created a Multi-Agency Referral & Tracking System that would address all these challenges and significantly improve the referral and tracking of multiple advice agency appointments.
“Advice services are provided by a range of agencies, all doing a fantastic job in supporting customers. In Renfrewshire, we have developed an Advice Partnership to provide a more “joined up” service, and the Pulsion referral and tracking system made this more effective by creating links that help customers navigate the various agencies.”
Gary Innes Customer Services Manager Renfrewshire Council
In order for Pulsion to fully understand the needs and wants of the respective user communities a User-Centred Design (UCD) approach, involving multiple stakeholder workshops, was used in combination with an Agile development methodology. Multiple iterations of the system were developed and through continuous user testing and refinement, the finished solution was quickly delivered to the advice agencies.
“The online referral system allows us to track the referrals easily, and check the progress of each individual case”
Income Advisor Advice Works
The digital solution was developed using the latest Microsoft technologies and provided secure access for all the advice agencies involved. The shared digital solution securely stored all necessary information and was available to all agencies via the internet. The solution was fully responsive on all internet browsers and mobile devices. This common digital solution eliminated the need for any rekeying of data as the information ‘followed’ the individual from agency to agency as appropriate and could be updated by any of the referred agencies involved. Specifically, it also quickly and easily created multiple agency referrals, tracked their progress and provided feedback on the conclusions of these referrals to the advice agencies and the individual concerned. The Multi-Agency Referral & Tracking System delivered the following improvements:
- A secure system which was optimised to support the advice agency personnel in order to deliver the most relevant advice and assistance possible to the individual, regardless of whether this was from one agency or multiple agencies.
- The new system eliminated the need to re-key and/or duplicate client information – the individual would only need to provide this information once and was accessible to all relevant agencies at the time of the appointment.
- The system’s user interface was optimised to increase the speed of data capture of the individual’s needs, making this a less time-consuming task for the advice agency.
- Support workers within the advice agencies simply and easily created multiple referral appointments without having to contact partner advice agencies directly themselves. All organisations worked in partnership through the system rather than via defined contacts and phone/e-mail.
- The new system facilitated data sharing, improved the quality and accuracy of the information captured and ensured consistency of data across all the agencies.
- Significantly, this system captured and generated management information with no need for manual aggregation or intervention.
As a result of implementing the MultiAgency Referral & Tracking System, the following benefits have been realised by the Advice Partnership Renfrewshire:
- Improved Service Efficiency & Delivery – the entire end to end appointment referral and tracking experience was optimised based on the support worker’s requirements and significantly increased the efficiency and transparency of the service provided to the general public.
- Enhanced Communication – data sharing between the advice agencies improved collaboration where agencies worked in partnership through the system rather than relying on individuals.
- Insights into Reporting and MI – the system captured and generated management information with no need for manual aggregation or intervention and reported on the achievement of specific aims and any emerging trends.
“The system is easy to access and is user-friendly”
Senior Income Advisor Advice Works
The SPPA partners with Pulsion Technology to develop a software solution to administer the pensions of the NHSS and Scottish Teachers Superannuation Scheme. The resulting solution ‘MyPension’ was regarded as a great success with its user community with high levels of user satisfaction.
MyPensions Transformed at Scottish Public Pensions Agency Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA) The Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA) is an agency of the Scottish Government. Its principal role is to administer the pensions of the National Health Service in Scotland (NHSS) and members of the Scottish Teachers’ Superannuation Scheme (STSS). When the SPPA was looking at ways to streamline its business processes to become more efficient and cost effective, it chose Pulsion Technology as the IT development partner. This partnership not only resulted in the SPPA achieving a more streamlined business model but transformed the way in which members and pensioners viewed and managed their pensions.
When the SPPA first met with Pulsion Technology, it was unsure as to what solution would make the maximum impact on the organisation. After taking the time to understand the SPPA’s business model, strategy and key objectives, Pulsion proposed that the creation of a secure web based case management system where members and pensioners could access their information simply and securely would be the best approach, allowing the SPPA to stream-line processes for service delivery whilst reducing overheads both within the Agency and for Employers.
Aims and Objectives
The SPPA requested a two-phased approach to the creation of these services, firstly with the development of a member secure system followed by the creation of a pensioner system.
Member System (Phase one)
Before the member system was set up, 220,000 members received a paper annual benefit statement which provided them with information regarding their pension benefits. The benefit statements were generated by the pension administration system, printed and couriered to employers to dispatch to members. Following the look and feel of the existing SPPA website, the main aim of the member system was to create a secure web based portal that members could access via an authenticated password system. After logging in, members would be able to view their current benefit statement online and build up a benefit statement history. This would drive down the costs for the SPPA and Employers.
Pensioner System (Phase Two)
Previous to the pensioner system, 140,000 pensioners received a standard two payslips, P60 and an annual percentage increase letter each year. These items were generated from the payroll system, printed and sent to the pensioner at their home address. The purpose of a pensioner system was to cut production costs and allow pensioners to manage their own documents online. Pensioners would be able to log into a secure web based portal, via an authenticated password system, and view their payslips, P60’s and annual percentage letters online with the facility for a service history to be built up as time progressed. It was important that the new page was easy to use and understand and that the look and feel was congruent with the existing SPPA website.
Pulsion Technology created the MyPension system for both members and pensioners utilising ASP.NET technology. Having a system that allows users to view, download and print their pension details via a secure website has completely revolutionised how the SPPA operates as well as dramatically improving the customer experience. The SPPA are currently in the early stages of changing the way it provides information to the scheme members. It is hoped that as the number of people signed up to the online system increases so too will the savings for the SPPA.
Key Benefits for the SPPA
- Significant annual savings in postage/ courier costs
- A new way for members and pensioners to contact the SPPA online
- High level of customer satisfaction
- A reduction in overheads
Following the success of both the member system and the pensioner system, Pulsion Technology and the SPPA partnered again to develop the employer system. The SPPA collects pension contributions from 1,150 participating employers for the Scottish Teachers and NHS Superannuation Schemes. Each employer advises the Agency of contributions due and pays on a monthly basis. Before the Employer system was developed, employers would send in contribution data in spreadsheets via email on a monthly basis. This was a time consuming, inefficient process which frequently caused errors and delays in processing, leading to inaccurate accounting records. As with the member system and pensioner system before it, Pulsion developed a secure web based portal that employers could access via an authenticated password system. Employers could enter their contribution information via the portal www.pulsion.co.uk 0141 352 2280 firstname.lastname@example.org Case Study and the information would be transferred directly to the Agency’s income collection system, reducing the risk of error and delay.
6 months on…
6 months after the employer system was deployed, the SPPA conducted a user satisfaction survey, inviting all employers using the system to participate, to determine their response to the new system and identify any potential concerns. The response rate was fantastic, with over half of employers who use the system participating in the survey. When asked about the registration process for the system, 87% of respondents rated it as “very easy” or “extremely easy”. There was also really positive feedback with regards to the navigation of the system, with 85% saying that the site was either “very easy” or “extremely easy” to navigate. When survey participants were asked about their overall experience of the system, just over 95% of respondents stated that they were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their experience. One piece of feedback that was particularly pleasing for the SPPA was regarding the Agency Finance Team. When survey participants were asked if they required any support from the Agency Finance Team, just over 82% said that this support was not required. Reducing the number of support calls being handled by the Agency Finance Team had been one of the major reasons for developing the Employer Pension system, along with improving service delivery and all round user satisfaction. Ian Waugh, Director of Finance at the SPPA summarises the project,
“We found Pulsion staff very professional and the company easy to deal with throughout our project. Our intention was to create a user interface which our customers would find easy to use; the results of the customer survey carried out show that this is what was delivered. From a business perspective, the web service is proving excellent value for money and we look forward to continuing to work with Pulsion as the project develops”.
The Refugee Council partners with Pulsion Technology to develop an effective case management solution driving efficiency, productivity and reducing the number of legacy asylum cases. Creating Synergy at the Refugee Council Refugee Council The Refugee Council is one of the United Kingdom’s leading charities working with refugees and asylum seekers. The organisation gives refugees a voice, using its direct work as an evidence base. The Refugee Council collaborates with a range of partners to ensure it can offer the best support possible. In the UK there are three national refugee councils, one operating in Scotland, one in England and one in Wales.
Although IT systems had been in place for a number of years, they weren’t flexible enough to meet growing demands, targets and increased reporting requirements. Each of the three national Refugee Councils utilised its own system to record data on refugees and had its own procedures in place for how that data should be recorded and processed. Working in this way meant it was very difficult and time consuming to share information between each organisation.
The Government was facing increasing pressures to reduce the backlog of legacy asylum cases and to speed up asylum processing. In order to achieve this, The Refugee Council had to become more streamlined and efficient. It was vital to engage with an IT partner who could develop a system that would allow all three bodies to share information and to record refugee data in a more efficient manner. Following a competitive tendering process, Pulsion Technology was awarded a contract to provide a pilot Joint Client Database solution, known as JCDB, to the UK’s three national Refugee Councils as a pilot project. This would allow the Refugee Council to establish its requirements and to test the system with a small section of its users. Following the success of this pilot scheme, Pulsion was asked to extend the system for rollout across all the English, Scottish and Welsh Refugee Councils.
Using Microsoft ASP.NET and SQL Server technologies, Pulsion created a case management system to enable the Refugee Council to process applications from asylum seekers and to give help and advice to refugees. This single case management system was used for the whole organisation, creating efficiencies and synergies that previously were impossible.
Key Benefits for the Refugee Council
• Utilising a single case management system for the whole organisation allowed the three bodies to share information, driving efficiency and increasing productivity
• Backlogs of legacy asylum cases were reduced.