Victoria Forms User Conference 2017
Held on 15th November 2017 at The Grange Hotel, Holborn, the 2017 Victoria Forms User Conference was a well-supported and informative event, which prompted some excellent discussion between Victoria Forms Customers.
On this page you can find resources from the event, including copies of our speaker presentations, User Forum overview, and information about new products!
The agenda for the User Conference can be found here: Victoria Forms User Conference 2017 – Agenda
Victoria Forms User Conference 2017: Summary
Robert Shefras and James Rawlins (CallCredit Group) introduced CallValidate, the latest addition to CallCredit’s comprehensive fraud & ID solution. CallValidate offers identity and verification checks online, with the vision to integrate with Victoria Forms as part of the application process.
All the way from Wales, Robin Davies (Accuracy & Systems Control Officer, Flintshire CC) shared an excellent overview of Flintshire’s journey from paper forms to online forms, including some interesting statistics about the uptake of the online communication channel.
Our guest speaker for the event was Simon Bailey (Revenues and Benefits Consultant, ISCAS Ltd) whose presentation entitled ‘Then, Now, and the Future of Digital Services’ covered a whirlwind timeline from the 1990s through to today, and onward to predict future trends, such as Alexa, Cloud Computing, and the Internet of Things.
Rob Duddle and Karen Land (Senior Projects Manager and HB & CT Team Leader, Teignbridge DC) spoke in depth about channel shift and the removal of any paper forms, showing how awareness and signposting are an effective means of changing the way customers interact with the Council.
After a networking opportunity over lunch, the afternoon session was opened by Victoria Forms, with a new product launch for VF Creator – the new eForms Design Software from Victoria Forms, which uses Microsoft Word to create fully featured online forms. Enterprise Forms Server has also been updated to allow multiple form types and encompasses additional feature improvements according to customer feedback. Victoria Forms also introduced Enterprise Forms Server Core – a brand new version of our Core Software, built using the latest technology, restyled, and with a roadmap of features to be added over time.
Despite distractions from a passing protest march, Andrew Mearns and Elaine Cook (Web Manager and CRM Dev & Integrations Manager, Stockton-on-Tees BC) delivered a great presentation on the subject of complex process mapping and integrations with multiple systems, including Lagan CRM, Pay.net for payments, Northgate Information@Work for Document Management, and Civica OPENRevenues & Civica E-Benefits Back Office systems.
Samantha Foster (Deputy Head of Benefits Services, Gosport BC) encouraged audience participation with her brilliant ‘Gosport – The Story So Far’ presentation and Bingo game! One lucky audience member won a prize, and Sam shared Gosport’s results from implementing online forms, such as significantly reduced footfall, reduced telephone calls, and online evidence processing.
The final session of the day was a Customer Forum, which allowed customers to ask questions and share their thoughts. Following the forum, Victoria Forms will be looking into a couple of new developments such as progress bars on forms, and a secure upload facility for helpdesk enquiries.
Victoria Forms User Conference 2017: Customer Forum
Q. (Medway) Do Victoria Forms have a library of ready-made forms which can be viewed by Local Authorities?
A. (Victoria Forms) Yes – we have template libraries available, just ask for a link and we’ll point you in the right direction!
Q. (Darlington) Have Victoria Forms been working on form changes for Universal Credit?
A. (Victoria Forms ) Yes – Our Standard Claim Form now has a ‘filter question’ for Universal Credit, which signposts applicants to the DWP Site for UC, and then allows them to continue with the form to claim Council Tax Support/Reduction only where applicable.
We have also undertaken custom work for Councils including Postcode checkers and detailed filter questions.
Q. (Darlington) Some customers have experienced issues where they have answered a question on a form and then changed their minds, and gone back to adjust the answer, which then can cause errors. Have Victoria Forms developed anything to approach this issue?
A. (Victoria Forms) Yes – the latest release of Enterprise Forms Server (EFS 7) has additional code which continually checks each form and will remove data from any fields which are hidden on the form, which will then remove any errors relating to this issue.
Q. (Waltham Forest) Is there any possibility of integrating your Helpdesk Software (osTicket) with Enterprise Forms Server (EFS)? Relating to this, is there a way to allow Customers to submit PDF documents securely through EFS rather than emailing (insecure) or emailing password protected Zips (time consuming)?
A. (Victoria Forms) Yes – this is something we could explore. Certainly we could add an SFTP functionality to our offering, which would allow the secure upload of documents relating to support tickets without using email. We can also look into incorporating osTicket service as part of the Help Page within Enterprise Forms Server.
Q. (Victoria Forms) With regards to Robotic Automation – What are the thoughts around the room? Have customers been contacted by Back Office Suppliers about this functionality? Is there any interest from our Customers to explore this as an integration option?
A. (Darlington) Northgate have asked Darlington to sign an agreement not to use Robotics, or if they do, agree that it is entirely at their own risk and Northgate will not support them if anything were to go wrong. Other customers around the room also report that Northgate have asked the same of them.
(Victoria Forms) Robotic Automation offers the same functionality as the Back Office supplier APIs, which means it is unlikely Back Office suppliers will support this function, as it is in direct competition to an existing product.
Back Office suppliers can add CAPTCHAs to screens which will interrupt the robotic automation (we believe Capita have done this); fields can also be moved slightly by the Back-Office supplier which would also prevent the robotic automation from locating the correct field to place data into.
Victoria Forms believe that support from Back Office suppliers would be required in order for us to support Robotics Automation; however we are keen to assist our customers if their Back Office Suppliers allow automation, or if there is a keen enough demand.
Q. (Darlington) Attachments Module – can this be used separately to specific forms?
A. (Victoria Forms) Yes – as part of the Attachments Module Add-On, Victoria Forms can supply a simple standalone ‘Evidence Upload Form’. This form asks for basic details of the applicant, so the Council can identify who is uploading the evidence/index the evidence alongside a claim. One process that has worked really well is to use this form in conjunction with the Main Claim/Change in Circumstances forms. Typically Councils allow applicants a set period of time to gather evidence after their claim/change has been submitted. The Victoria Forms system can be configured to send out a copy of the Evidence Checklist as part of the system generated email that is sent when a form is submitted. This email can also include a link to the Evidence Upload Form, allowing applicants to submit their evidence online after the claim has been submitted to the Council.
Q. (Richmondshire) Is there possibility for a progress bar on forms from Victoria Forms?
A. (Victoria Forms) Yes – this is a good suggestion, and one we will look into as part of our future developments. We have created something in the past for North Yorkshire Police, for their reporting forms.
One consideration to take into account is how applicants can move through the form – some forms have ‘Forced Error Checking’ enabled, meaning that applicants must complete all questions on a page before they can progress onto the next page; other forms allow applicants to move back and forth through the pages, so they can complete as much information on the form as possible, without being held up on one page (in case the applicant doesn’t know their partner’s national insurance number, for example). This ‘free moving’ option might make a progress bar more confusing; however we will explore the best way to approach this.
Q. (Ashford) Relating to Revenues integration into Northgate – if the mobile number on a form is left blank, the mobile number held in Northgate is updated with the blank value, effectively removing it from the account. Is there anything Victoria Forms can do to prevent this?
A. (Victoria Forms) We could use the API to extract the details out of Northgate, and then include them with the XML, which would effectively replace the existing mobile number with the same mobile number, which would solve the issue of the data being removed by the API.
Q. (Victoria Forms) How are Victoria Forms best to stay in touch with customers? Interactive Polls, Forums, User Conferences, User Groups, Newsletter?
A. (Darlington) It’s difficult to get 90 customers in the same location, however, the sharing of experiences between Local Authorities is very important. We looked at other Council websites to see what was being used.
It would be very useful to have a forum coordinated by Victoria Forms to allow Local Authorities to communicate with each other, to share ideas between Councils.
(Victoria Forms) Often we provide Reference Sites for new customers, to share experiences with the software. Potentially a more coordinated approach to this might be useful, such as an ‘Opt In’ service, where Councils can allow themselves to be contacted by other customers or prospective customers to share their thought.
(Darlington) Additionally, it would be useful to know what’s in the pipeline – such as fixes that are being worked on, new products etc. – so Council Staff can go back to management with an educated answer. Possibly a regular newsletter or teleconference would be useful.
(Overall Conference Feedback) The User Conference was really good – it was interesting to hear how other Councils are using the software, and to see what can be achieved/how much we are already achieving! We made useful contacts on the day, and it was nice to put faces to voices. It would be good to have a yearly conference, or User groups might be useful.
David has worked within Local Authority Licensing for 5 years and joined Westminster City Council during the very early testing & implementation phase of the introduction of Victoria Forms’ Licensing eForm system and continues to work to improve efficiencies and the Customer experience.
In addition to David’s presentation slides, on the day he was able to demonstrate data moving through Victoria Forms into Idox Uniform Back Office in real time, showing the fantastic time savings achieved by Westminster City Council.
How Integrated Forms Transformed Our Service
Robert Shefras is a Business Development Representative with the Callcredit Information Group working within the Public Sector. Robert initially started working for Callcredit in 2015, being a junior account manager within various sectors, including Finance, Legal and Insurance. After becoming a Business Development Representative he decided to specialise within the Public Sector and now manages a large portion of all Local Authorities and Housing Associations within the organisation, as well as developing new business. Within Local Authorities Robert works with most departments and as such, has a breadth of knowledge and understanding into the difficulties and objectives that they face as a whole.
He has held this position for 3 years, fully utilising his extensive knowledge and experience overseeing the day to day running of Civica’s Open Revenues Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction system, and Victoria Forms’ eForm System. More recently he has concentrated in this area, extending the library of forms available for customers on Flintshire CC’s website.
Paper to Online – A Practical Solution
With a keen interest in utilizing new technology within Revenue & Benefits, he is involved in current and emerging welfare reforms and how they impact on authorities.
He has considerable experience in managing and supervising Revenue & Benefits Services, specialising in the implementation of IT systems and performance improvement and, in particular, the Digital by Default agenda.
Then, Now, and the Future of Digital Services
Karen has worked and lived in Teignbridge for more than 29 years, having started her Career working in the Cash Office and then moving into Council Tax when it was first introduced in 1993! Council Tax is where Karen believes she has the most knowledge and experience and is still ‘training’ in the Benefits arena – even after 4 years of being in Housing Benefit and Council Tax. As HB & CT Team Leader, her front line role involves managing the Team and dealing with Housing Benefit and Council Tax enquiries – over the phone and face to face.
How we achieved 100% online take-up
Ophelia Chan is an eForms Design Consultant, specialising in VF Creator forms, and Dan Soper is one of our talented IT Technicians, involved in development of the latest version of Enterprise Forms Server – EFS Core.
Company Roadmap, Developments, and VF Creator Launch
His key role is responsibility for the content and development of the Council’s websites. Andrew is particularly keen on improving the ‘Customer journey’ when using digital services and to aid Channel Shift. eForms are therefore a key part of the wider project and the plans at Stockton.
Elaine has a wealth of experience within Local Authority Customer Service and has held the position of CRM Development & Integrations Manager at Stockton for 2 years.
Elaine continues to look at ways of improving processes and procedures to enhance the Customer experience of interacting with Councils, supporting and implementing technology that makes things easier for the customer – whilst also striving to improve efficiencies.
Process mapping & complex integrations in Revenues and Benefits
Her key responsibilities include monitoring performance and efficiency within the department with a key focus on Channel Shift.
She also supports Project Management and assists with annual subsidy and audit controls.