Colchester Borough Council introduces Self-Service Portal for Citizens

Faced with a rapidly growing population and an increasing demand for better customer services, Colchester Borough Council has radically changed the way it delivers services to its residents by introducing a new customer self-service portal known as ‘iConnect’. 

“The population of Colchester is expected to grow significantly over the next few years” explained Pam Donnelly, Executive Director at Colchester BC. “This coincided with a growing expectation from our customers of the same 24/7 access to services that we are all now used to getting from private sector companies”.

The Colchester BC team also realised that they needed to bring together information about their range of customers across the Council’s different departments and systems.

“Customers expect their Local Authority to be a single organisation but traditionally in many Councils there is a vast array of data sitting in different departments and different systems. We knew that if we could share customer data more intelligently we could improve the quality of our services, increase efficiency and make self-service a reality while still working within the data protection laws”; explained Phil Pettit, ICT Program Manager at Colchester BC.

The first public-facing phase of the iConnect project sees Council Tax, Housing Services and Benefits initially available on the portal, and sitting behind the solution is the new Customer Index, with both pieces provided by Firmstep.

The project has already delivered savings because these were built into the business case from the start. The new solutions that Colchester BC purchased cost less than the solutions they were replacing. More savings are expected from the project as a result of having more services online but these will be for the individual service areas to promote.

Phil Pettit will be presenting at the Firmstep Annual User Conference 2011 to explain the journey leading to iConnect and the future of the portal.