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Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council (Stockport MBC) is the local authority for the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport, Greater Manchester and covers around 220,000 residents. Stockport MBC provides a range of council services to its constituents including community support, education services, business support, planning proposals and building regulations. The council also manages the collection and spending of council tax revenues to deliver services.
As the number of residents within the borough has increased, Stockport MBC found that it was dealing with an increasing number of requests for service around more and more issues. At the same time, the council’s existing service management system was both out of support and proving difficult to manage for the team.
There was a lack of integration with the council’s existing IT infrastructure, and activities like logging tickets were too time consuming for the agents and affected the amount of time that each contact request took to process.
Another challenge was the lack of management information available for the team to use; the IT service management team at Stockport MBC found it hard to gather all the data that it needed as it had to be manually exported and then prepared for analysis – following this process, the data was immediately out of date. In addition, the council wanted to add an end-user portal to deliver more services online.
Russell Pearson, Information Technology Service Desk Manager at Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, led the process for selecting a new service desk tool. The new service desk software would have to be easy to use, quick to implement and capable of delivering out-of-the-box reporting that could provide more insight into the problems that were being reported. To complete the list of requirements, it would have to be cost effective.
Russell and his team also recognised that the council was dealing with a large volume of the same types of requests: “The highest volume of queries for the team were around Tax; Benefits; Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG); Waste, and Registrars – all of the requests on these topics could be met using self-service and without requiring assistance from the team internally,” explained Russell.
The team therefore decided to provide an integrated service portal capability and included this as part of their future requirements. Following some in-depth research into available solutions, the team at Stockport MBC chose Freshservice as the council’s new service desk platform.
For Stockport MBC, the intuitive UI and familiar feel of Freshservice were instant plus points for the team. Following the completion of the initial implementation, the Freshservice portal allowed residents to be more self-sufficient, enabling the council’s service desk agents to spend more time on more valuable tickets and also support bigger projects with the council’s IT team.
The scope of the project has grown over time as well.
“The council organisation is very complex. We knew we would have to meet the needs of many different departments and team members using the service. For example, we have over 90 different buildings around Stockport, all of which would contain teams that would have to be supported. In total, it took nine months to implement all our ITSM capabilities due to the complexity of our organisation; we were also recruiting new staff in to expand and support that delivery of more services too”
Information Technology Service Desk Manager
Due to the intricacy of the implementation, the main scope for Freshservice was to look at the service operations teams which included the council’s service desk, and then expand to the operations, projects, systems teams and DevOps teams as well. Each team would be able to use Freshservice and access information on the delivery of services, as well as collaborating with each other on requests where necessary.
“What I have seen is that the implementation has really helped collaboration across teams – the product is simple to use and has been so well received that Freshservice has now been introduced into other teams across the council, such as our User Experience teams, our Business Intelligence teams, and some of our education support teams as well,” continued Russell. “It’s moved from being a simple service request product to being one that more and more people want to use.”
For Stockport MBC, the implementation of a new service management product also provided the opportunity to change how the team was organised. “We changed the dynamics of the team from the classic first, second and third line support model to one that included a first line support team, an incident support team and a service fulfillment team. Rather than having first line staff focused on routing requests through to the right people, we were able to automate a lot of this process,” explained Russell.
The change has been beneficial, not just for end users but also for the service desk team members as well. “Because we can capture all the information needed in the first contact with a customer, we categorise and manage service requests more efficiently. We’re able to put requests through the service catalogue so they go directly to the right team or person, speeding up service. We now have a new service level for each request, which we can track more accurately and use to manage priorities,” said Russell.
Since going live, Stockport MBC received around 25,000 tickets to its service desk team in six months. Of these, 85.9 percent were resolved on first contact and 94.8 percent were dealt with within the team’s service-level agreements.
Another benefit of implementing Freshservice has been the ability of the council to identify training requirements. For example, the service desk team has been tracking issues raised that relate to user awareness. Using this data, the service desk can work with the council’s Organisational Development team to develop training programmes that can help council employees increase their knowledge. Over time, this reduces calls through to the service desk and improves productivity for the council’s staff too.
Based on the success of the current implementation with Freshservice, the team are looking at integrating the council’s IT asset management system with its IT Service management strategy. By linking ITAM and ITSM together, the council aims to improve management and reduce costs still further.
Stockport MBC has been embarking on an ambitious digital transformation programme to help the council deliver services to individuals using new and innovative methods. The Freshervice project has been part of this transformation work, which includes developing a platform of reusable digital capabilities to help deal with the volume of queries that it receives.
The programme includes collaboration between Stockport MBC, NHS Stockport Clinical Commissioning Group, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, Stockport NHS Foundation Trust and Viaduct Health, a federation representing the general practitioners in Stockport. This initiative, named Stockport Together, aims to improve health and social care services for the 300,000 people living in the region. Stockport MBC supports this programme’s IT service requests using Freshservice. Recently, this collaboration and effort led to the council being named runner up in the Digital Council of the Year Awards.
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