North Lincolnshire Council have been using TOPdesk since 2014, after they began looking for an effective shared service solution. Since 2016 it’s now used by North Lincolnshire Council & North East Lincolnshire Council, who have joined some functions to create “shared services”. The IT function support around 5000 customers in their IT environment, which includes services from grass cutting to fleet maintenance and legal services.
We spoke to Carl Render, Strategic Lead – ICT Business Systems & Support, about the way they’ve made the most out of the solution.
Sharing services had been one of the council’s ambitions for some time, and their IT department were able to take a big step towards this when their previous ITSM tool reached end-of-life. “Primarily, sharing services has been driven through making savings,” Carl explains, “but even then, we were initially looking for a tool that would cover our IT and HR. But when we saw the extent to which TOPdesk was a genuine Shared Service tool, we realised we’d be able to include many more functions.”
Their portal is now used by multiple departments and functions including finance, room bookings, sharing customer feedback and business case toolkits. Building a central repository of information has offered valuable flexibility for the team. “Previously we used to have lots of people using things like the Access database, for example. But when people now ask us to create a new database, we can say ‘we’ll use TOPdesk!’ With the custom fields that are available, we can create the fields that they need.”
TOPdesk stands strong because of all the modules; it’s given us a lot more than the tools we had previously.
This centralising of information has supported a more agile approach for the team, since many of them work from different locations. Carl explains how making the data more accessible opening new possibilities. “We’d like to automate many of the council’s services, but if they only exist in sticky-note or email format, then there’s little opportunity to do anything towards that. But when data is retained in the system, you can take better advantage of it: from viewing straightforward statistics to supporting the automation itself. Information can be more readily available, and it encourages users towards self-service.”
The ability to report more extensively and accurately has helped out on the wider scale: “We’re now capturing the volume of activity that goes on in service areas. It’s highlighted what individuals are doing to keep the show running.”
That process of keeping the show running has meant a great deal of collaboration for the council. “We really focused on agreeing on set standards, from the nature of subcategories up to the layout of the Knowledge Base, so that customers resolving queries always encountered a familiar look and feel.”
“At the start of the implementation, we didn’t have process maps or flow charts that highlighted escalation points or email alerts, for example. So we were given the challenge by our TOPdesk consultant to map things out, to ensure success when it was up and running. We all got together and drew out how everything worked.” From there, the Support team also proved invaluable: “We used TOPdesk Support a lot when we were getting going and wanting to tweak things. And it’s safe to say we haven’t got a bad word to say.”
The way TOPdesk is structured offers a significant advantage. “It stands strong because of all the modules; it’s given us a lot more than the tools we had previously. The Operational Management module is one of my favourite – we can add all the ad hoc jobs like checking back-ups and patching. Then we get a timely prompt making sure we don’t miss a task, which is fantastic. It’s very helpful in allowing for planning.”
“There are still teams within the council using spreadsheet, so there’s still room for our new way of working to grow. I’d like to think we’re supporting around 5000 customers in an IT environment, and there’s not been anything we’ve not been able to do. We’ve got contracts, service level targets, operating procedures, contact details and plenty more! TOPdesk is helping both councils across a lot of service areas – and that’s the right direction to be going.”