Case Study: Parks Operations Performance Information (POPI) Management System
As Birmingham City Council's ICT partner, Service Birmingham was
asked to implement a package of ICT improvements to deliver
increased value for money services for the users of Birmingham's
parks. The resulting service improvements were Highly Commended in
the Local Government Chronicle Awards (LGC) 2011, narrowly missing
out on the overall crown for Efficiency.
The Parks Management service was also a finalist in the Birmingham City Council Chamberlain Awards for the Efficiency category for 2011.
Challenges and Goals
Improvements in Birmingham City Council's Parks service were being hampered by the use of a number of systems and by relying on a number of separate databases.
The variety of systems in place meant that data storage was frequently duplicated, management information was unreliable and no robust system was in place to monitor performance of grounds maintenance contractors or provide statistical and performance management evidence - essential to keep up high standards for citizens who frequent the parks and use their many facilities.
Service Birmingham was asked to provide a modern IT system to manage:
• Grounds Maintenance performance
• Tree safety
• Nature Conservation
• Parks asset management
The project was expected to deliver a number of outcomes to improve the parks service for Birmingham:
• The removal of duplication in data inputting and storage
• Better sharing of information and removal of data reconciliation issues
• More up-to-date information, for example issuing of variations and works orders, confirmation of completed work and performance monitoring
• Improved management information, for example the ability to profile expenditure by activity, location, client and contractor at any time, for any period
• Streamlined processes and quicker response times
The council's 'Logicat' Grounds Maintenance and 'Confirm' Tree Management systems were replaced with a single Parks Operations Performance Information (POPI) management system which incorporated the functionality of a number of separate databases. The extension to mobile working by the extensive use of personal digital assistants (PDAs) allows council officers to carry out inspections from sites and provide responses immediately.
Service Birmingham staff worked closely with Parks Officers from the initiation of the project. This successful working relationship has been fundamental in completing a very challenging project which is leading the way in the complex management of major contracts and is used by both the contractors and Birmingham City Council.
Results and Benefits
POPI has supported changes resulting in savings of more than £1.3 million a year - an efficiency saving of 17%. The system, which can be accessed from the office or remote outdoor locations via a handheld device, helps the council to manage the parks service and the grounds maintenance contracts. POPI also plays a crucial part in driving efficiency and cultural change. Strategically, Service Birmingham's POPI project linked to four of Birmingham City Council's wider Business Transformation Programmes in the following ways:
• Customer Services - POPI provides the council with an enquiry management tool that will integrate with Customer Relationship Management software.
• Corporate Information Management - POPI involves the digitisation of Contract Services paper-based asset mapping information and the publishing of this on Localview
• Working For The Future - POPI enables mobile working by providing and supporting personal digital assistants (PDAs).
• Corporate Services Transformation - Payment information is calculated by POPI and transferred to the council's corporate finance system by way of an interface.