Moving to a Digital World

Written by Eddie Vermeer, Head of Information Systems at Certitude

There are a lot of discussions and conversations taking place around enabling organisations to become digital.  It’s seen as an effective way to meet increased cost pressures, a desire to become more efficient and to assist in improving the quality of products and services.  What is often missing from this landscape of words is examples of how people are making this transition and a sharing of experiences across industries.

A couple of years ago, Certitude recognised that it was still a very paper dominated organisation.  The difficulty with a multiple site organisation that has had many forms of growth was there were numerous documents that were similar, but they recorded slightly different types of data, and therefore were effectively siloed from one another.  The initial project was kick started to look in to reducing and consolidating this paperwork and some success came from this.  However, it was also recognised that changing habits and entrenched processes was never going to be an easy process and the digital world offered an opportunity.

A cross section of staff from Certitude were brought together to look at the options available and a wish list was constructed in to a specification document that was put out to a wide range of suppliers – both within social care and from outside.  We wanted to ensure we could get the best solution for the organisation, not necessarily the best solution for the industry.

A rigorous selection process was conducted and over a period of three months, an acceptable proposal was made, which was made from an organisation with no experience in social care.  However, they understood the parallels with their existing customers and could relate that to us.  Combined with our own in-house expertise in social care, we formed a partnership designed to deliver a system providing high quality care to those that we care for.

The work load required from Certitude is greater than if we had chosen a product from within the sector, but this has allowed us to better understand ourselves and question our own practices to reduce unnecessary paperwork.  This has allowed us, with some certainty, to be confident that we are not simply digitising our existing paperwork, but designing real change across the organisation, and will result in a system that is designed for our needs, but with a flexibility that allows us to adapt quickly and effectively as the product is built within Microsoft Sharepoint.

From the outset, we have been well supported by our leadership team and have learned the importance of engaging our board regularly to ensure they understand and support the project.  Internal communications across the organisation take place regularly and updates to all staff are important.  Change can be unsettling, but ensuring that everyone is informed and that the project is open, provides us with a receptive audience who will be more accepting of change.

As our journey continues on this project, the most powerful tool has been our learning log and continually referring to it so that we adapt and learn as we go.

The most important elements to share from this project have been:

  • To have a broad range of suppliers that include those from outside the sector to ensure we’re getting the best solution to meet our needs
  • To map the business processes involved from the first interaction with someone, to the last
  • To record and use a learning log

Certitude supports over 1500 people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health support needs and their families to live the life they want to lead: happy, healthy, respected as equals and valued for their contribution within communities.We are a not-for-profit organisation working across London. We find creative solutions, working alongside people with the most complex support needs to lead happy, fulfilled lives.

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