Calderdale Council Reducing Reporting Time and Costs with New Business Intelligence Platform
How Perfect Image Helped Local Authority to "Aim for the Stars"
When Calderdale Council first approached Perfect Image back in July 2016, they had already been using the QlikView platform for twelve months and knew they needed to take the next step in data analytics. They had brilliant ideas of how the Council should progress, but didn’t yet know exactly how to make their plans a reality.
Lead Business Intelligence Officer of Calderdale Council, Paul Swallow, explains that the Council chose to invest in a Business Intelligence platform because,
we were using a number of tools to analyse data, but it was taking longer and longer. We wanted to change both how we worked and the tools we used to become much more resilient and responsive and then raise customer expectations. We want to be the best at what we do and we want to add value to the data we have access to.
The Council wanted to incorporate a best-of-breed approach to Business Intelligence and Analytics, but to do this they would need to bring about real change. That was when they started using QlikView with a pilot within Social Care.
Calderdale Council are well known across Yorkshire and the Humber as being eager to add value to their business through embracing new technology and practice. The Business Intelligence team realised that they needed to evolve to ensure they improved what they do and how they do it.
Taking the First Step to QlikView
Analysts were spending a great deal of time collating, validating and transforming data into shareable reports. Within Adults Social Care this equated to 65 hours a month spent on static and ad hoc reporting. That’s over 9 days of work a month for a skilled Business Analyst. The council needed a way to increase efficiency with a platform that could effortlessly analyse, compile and compare data and that was when they first used QlikView.
With data extraction and Analytics really starting to pay dividends for the Business Intelligence team, their expectations increased. Customers were happier and their data was now generating insight which was being used to take informed decisions improve performance. However, the organisation needed to take another step up…
Taking the Next Step to QlikSense
While Qlik had been proving a success for the past year, the Council understood that they would need to advance the platform even further.
Paul Swallow says that after a successful year of piloting QlikView,
We had enough evidence for a tangible business case to take Qlik forward and roll it out across the council. We started discussions with Qlik and explored implementing QlikSense alongside QlikView. We then went out to tender and came across Perfect Image.
With the Council’s priorities placing residents at the forefront of everything they do, they needed a way of:
- Making published performance data easy for the general public to understand
- Complementing their dataworks platform focusing on making the council more transparent
- Ensuring their team was trained to be able to create their own reports and dashboards without much external involvement, aiding self-service reporting and raising both capability and expectations
- Complying with data governance regulations
Calderdale Council and Perfect Image discussed how to bridge the gap between how the council currently worked, and what they wanted to achieve.
Our consultants worked alongside their team to start developing a solution. The platform that was adapted to their needs was based on their existing QlikView architecture, to implement QlikSense as part of the mobile solution and Qlik Analytical Platform to share dashboards on the web for residents without needing Qlik licences.
Paul Swallow says that he feels confident working with us because,
The product is great but Perfect Image have experts who are knowledgeable and are easy to work with. We have quarterly account management meetings as part of our maintenance contract. All this allows us to work toward our ambitions knowing that Perfect Image are focused on working with us to ensure we are successful.
Workshops were set up for Perfect Image’s Principal Business Intelligence Consultant, Simon Johnson, to go on-site with the council for two days and provide dedicated support and training. After that, we would be available to assist them when needed.
In the initial pilot the time taken to produce monthly reports has been reduced from 65 hours a week to just 12, one fifth of the prior time needed, and reducing the cost of producing these reports from £15,600 down to just £2,800. Similar levels of efficiency have been seen through the wider deployment. Qlik simplified data processing from hours into a just few clicks.
From that, Perfect Image developed a solution using QlikSense and Qlik Analytics Platform (QAP). The easy-to-use dashboards meant that discovered data could be used for enhanced decision making when working with partners such as Adult Health and Social Care, Children’s Services and the Police. This experience and learning has allowed Calderdale to share best practice with other Local Authorities within the region.
Calderdale’s Internal Audit team are regularly using Qlik. The data-improved extraction and visualisation are making data more robust, with data quality issues easier to identify and rectify. These improvements allow for more comprehensive audits.
The aim of the QAP web-based platform was to promote collaboration and pinpoint areas that require improvement. It is now possible to do this using interactive charts and graphs which are easy enough for anyone in the public to use and understand.
Qlik has enabled a much greater focus on performance within the Council. A change to the downward trend of placing adult into care home placements was identified much sooner than it would have been under the previous reporting methods. The issue was quickly and effectively rectified. Calderdale is now one of the country’s best performing councils when it comes to reducing the number of adults placed permanently into care homes.
Calderdale Council have always prioritised robust data governance regulations, and one of the most important expectations of this solution was that first-rate security was critical. QlikView had already meant that the council no longer had to email data around. Perfect Image supported Calderdale during the implementation process and beyond to ensure their servers and data were safe, making the information sharing process more secure.
Before working with Perfect Image, the Council had undertaken some basic Qlik training.
Now, through dedicated workshops, we were able to assist the Council with how exactly to produce dashboards from data sets that would benefit them specifically, and publish these dashboards themselves so they could remain independent. We also made sure they were aware of best practice guidelines and helpful tips. Perfect Image has worked alongside the Council to give them the skills to utilise their Qlik platforms efficiently, so that we can remain in the background as a support system if needed.
The Qlik dashboards are allowing users from Social Work, to Commissioners to Finance to use data themselves allowing greater ownership of performance. There have been improvements to the accuracy of budget setting and revenue monitoring and improved focus on performance across many areas.
The improved accessibility of data is greatly increasing resilience, shifting the focus of attention from gathering and reporting data toward performance improvement and evidence based decision making.
The Director of Adult and Children’s Services says,
We are able to access our data more efficiently and use it more effectively, aiding our improvement journey.
In 2016 when we were approached, Calderdale Council had zero public-facing dashboards. There are now 4 and they are hoping by 2019 this will have grown to 19. It is projected that from their 7 live internal dashboards in 2016, they will have 37 in 2019; currently there are 20. The resources saved can now be redirected to working with services to put the Business Intelligence model into practice and improving performance to reach the Council’s goals:
to grow the economy, reduce inequalities and build a sustainable future.
Due to the success of their investment in Qlik, Calderdale Council are now looking to host a regional sector led improvement model of performance and risk for the fifteen Adult Social Care departments across Yorkshire and Humber. This will promote co-operation between councils and their residents, to be able to share the analysed performance data in a secure and interactive way.
Paul Swallow concludes that the solution,
Is transforming how we process and act upon data, leading to improved decision making and performance. It complements the Open Data platform. We’re starting to put useful and meaningful information out into the Open Data arena for the residents of Calderdale and beyond. We’re ambitious in our sector and the support from Perfect Image is enabling us to aim for the stars and be a leader in our field.