Extending NEC Document Management to its Housing and HR departments meant that Sandwell Council could continue to deliver great services from home.

Supporting Sandwell in lockdown and beyond

We’ve supported Sandwell’s Revenues and Benefits team since 2002. We also scan their inbound and outbound mail to deliver a truly paperless service. 

The council’s 2018 ‘Workplace Vision’ set out plans for fewer buildings and agile working, which meant major change was needed elsewhere. In Housing, documents had built up in old properties, making them hard to locate and unsafe to store. The HR department had so many paper files they needed to reinforce a floor to take their weight.

The solution was to convert the existing contract for I@W to apply corporate-wide, with the HR and Housing teams next in line.

“NEC Document Management has made a huge difference in Revenues and Benefits, so it was the obvious choice for paper-heavy areas like Housing and HR.”

Sue Knowles, Head of ICT & Revenues and Benefits, Sandwell MBC

HR and Housing make the move

The HR team was first to go live in November 2019. We’d already scanned all historical and live files, so they were available from day one. Everyone in the 100-strong department was able to work differently and soon introduced improved self-service functions.

The focus then moved to Housing. The imminent closure of buildings – unrelated to lockdown – already meant a lightning-fast implementation. Transformation Officer Sonia Ward explains:

“We went from scoping visits, where we showed NEC the volume and location of the files, to having 350 users live within eight weeks. Lockdown happened in the middle of that period, so we also had to ditch plans for in-person training and create self-service guides and an email support desk.”

By the end of March 2020, Housing staff were able to access all essential files from home. “We’d already decided on NEC Document Management, and lockdown made its benefits crystal clear,” says Sonia. “There’s just no way we could have worked effectively without it.”

“Without NEC Document Management, 90% of the work we do in Housing would have been impossible in lockdown.”

Lennox Thompson, Customer Services Officer, Housing & Communities Directorate, Sandwell MBC

Moving Forward

The COVID-secure backscanning of Housing records continued during the first lockdown and completed at the end of July 2020. Now, work has started on process change to drive greater efficiency with improved workflow.

Similar work by the HR team has seen Sandwell save more than £6,000 per month and get shortlisted for a 2020 Smarter Working Live award.

450
450
users across Housing and HR
£6k
£6k
per month saved in HR alone
8
8
weeks to implementation in Housing
28k+
28k+
tenancy files scanned for Housing
450
450
users across Housing and HR
£6k
£6k
per month saved in HR alone
8
8
weeks to implementation in Housing
28k+
28k+
tenancy files scanned for Housing