Case studies

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Docbox - Basildon and Brentwood Councils

Basildon council and Brentwood council partnered back in 2015 to streamline the management of their revenues and benefit programmes, with other department collaborations going back as far as 2013.

The collaborative partnership was designed to deliver quality services to their residents, whilst minimising the cost of these services and improving the two council’s efficiencies.

The shared service scheme is recognised across the UK, with many councils opting for this approach to help manage services as one overarching council for a local area.

Background

Basildon and Brentwood council have been a client of CFH Docmail Limited (CFH) for over 10 years, for electoral printing. The Council developed a strong relationship and partnership, not only with CFH as a whole but particularly with Nicki Newburn, Business Development Manager, when it came to electoral communications. 

When the Revenues and Benefits team of the council sought to find a new supplier, as their previous supplier was unable to fulfil their needs, they knew who to contact to provide them with secure, trusted communications and reached out to Nicki to see how CFH could support them. 

The council required a complete managed service that could provide communication management for their annual billing campaigns that consisted of over 100,000 resident mailings across the two councils as well as ensure that these were accurate in their production and time-sensitive in their delivery. 

By a direct award through the CCS framework, Basildon and Brentwood council adopted CFH as their annual billing communications partner and agreed a phased implementation. 

However, the council needed further help. In addition to their bulk printing requirements the council also needed a solution that was able to manage their daily billing and everyday resident communications, whilst providing the Council with reporting functionality and a digital dashboard to manage mailing output. CFH’s Docbox software solution was able to offer this and completely meet their needs.

Approach

Docbox is a secure print software solution that sits within the infrastructure of an organisation, allowing multiple users to print and send postal communications via CFH Docmail’s remote production facility whilst being able to monitor and manage these all centrally, improving cost management. 

Working with CFH, Basildon and Brentwood implemented the Docbox software into their existing council infrastructure. The whole process was project managed by CFH, with a dedicated project manager over-seeing the initial set up, which took just over 8 weeks. 

Docbox provides all of the standard print and post choices you would expect including postage class, envelope type and output, allowing the user to easily send communication as and when required whether from their desktop or from the Docbox dashboard. 

The long-term relationship with the council allowed CFH to easily understand the councils’ requirements, resulting in 30 definitions being created within Docbox, so that all print requirements were met. 

Minimal changes were required to the existing templates allowing the council to start sending communications immediately. 

Understanding the councils’ workflows and schedules allowed the Docbox system to be configured to meet demand and it was agreed that Docbox would deliver the print files to the CFH production facility twice a day 5 days a week. From there the mailings would be printed and despatched. 

Craig Beadle, Senior System Control Officer and Anthony Arthur, System Control Officer of Basildon and Brentwood’s revenues and benefits team, are two of the users of Docbox within the council, where they send and manage the daily billing output.

The software provides Craig, Antony and their colleagues a quick, easy to use, secure method of communicating effectively with their residents when it matters most. The software minimises the printing process by streamlining their everyday communications in a secure way, saving the council valuable time and money. 

Over the past year the council have sent over 300,000 mailings through the Docbox solution and continue to increase their output to meet their resident’s requirements. 

Docbox features a secure, personalised dashboard that provides Craig and Anthony as well as other members of their team, the ability to monitor their communication output. Within the dashboard group administrators are able recall and monitor any communications that require amending or cancel any letters before they are processed, providing a means of double checking the output they need to send. 

This proofing feature within the dashboard has helped improve the accuracy of their output whilst ensuring that mailings are delivered within the time scale required. 

The team also have the ability to run daily, monthly and yearly reports in the dashboard to monitor spend and output across the different departments as well as on an individual basis. 

When partnering with CFH, the council were assigned a dedicated account manager, Zoe Pearson, who is always on hand to answer any questions, resolve queries and ensure that mailings are processed and dispatched successfully and in line with their requirements. Zoe’s support is second to none and helps maintain the relationship between CFH and the council, through consistent support and a friendly voice on the end of the phone. 

In addition, Nicki is always available to assist the council to discuss their communication requirements as they change and develop throughout the partnership. 

Together CFH and the council work seamlessly to implement and send residents communications, that deliver important information and drive the outcomes the council are looking to achieve.

Key learnings and results

Through existing relationships, the daily billing team were able to find a suitable means of sending their resident daily and everyday communications, in a way that worked effectively. CFH’s knowledge of the council and how their communications work demonstrates the power of successful relationships and how it can blossom throughout an organisation when it’s right. 

The software has provided significant benefits to the councils including cost savings, improved accuracy of the letters being sent and complete management through the dashboard and reporting features. But most of all, the significant time savings that the system provided the councils were unprecedented, allowing the department to focus on higher value tasks. 

The dedicated account management CFH provides is above and beyond the council’s requirements and helps maintain the effectiveness of their mailings and ensure everything is processed without fail. Any issues are resolved effectively and regular communication updates between the two organisations helps maintain the level of service Basildon and Brentwood Council require. This attention to detail and constant support, helps cement this relationship, making CFH a partner the council know they can rely on. 

The council would recommend Docbox as a solution to other departments within their councils as well as other councils across the UK, as a tool to manage their everyday communications. It’s a software solution that minimises the lengthy process of managing communications and streamlines the whole thing, it’s as easy as pressing print and go, as you know your communications are being handled by a company you can trust.

Giving our staff the ability to press print and not worry is big time saver, not having to worry about printing in house, enveloping and sending a document to the post room for it then to be posted is fantastic for the department and council. Following the pandemic it has highlighted how important the Docmail service is for our staff to be able to easily work from home and not worry about letters arriving on time without delays, with Docmail we have 24/7 access to be able to print a letter. This gives our staff more time to work on accounts and claims rather than deal with stationery which could take up a large part of their day. 

Giving staff the access to a web interface to easily recall the document within a click button is also very helpful in case we do not want to send a letter. 

Our relationship with Docmail in particular Zoe and Nicki is fantastic, they are always on hand and happy to assist our queries when we need them.

Craig Beadle, Senior Systems & Control Officer



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