Councils Use Analytics to Reduce Costs

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Mid Kent Services (MKS), a partnership of local authorities from the Mid Kent region has appointed Staffordshire based business intelligence software provider, Connexica, to work on a project to improve local authority services. Since mid-2016, MKS, which encompasses Maidstone, Swale and Tunbridge Wells Borough Councils, has used Connexica’s CXAIR software to analyse the wide range of data that the councils produce to achieve several cost and efficiency improvements.

Due to the increased pressure on local authorities to save money, the partnership has identified areas where costs can be minimised and where funding can be allocated more effectively. The MKS partnership’s successful bid for funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Transformation Challenge Award (TCA) programme in 2014, enabled it to use business analytics software to do this.

“Connexica’s brief was to provide software that works across a number of projects in the partnership,” explained Andy Sturtivant, TCA Project Manager at MKS. “The CXAIR software had to be able to draw information from the large quantity of sources across the partnership, analyse and cross reference it. This then enabled us to view data reports, giving us a more comprehensive view of where cost savings could be made.

“One of the key projects for the partnership was at Swale Borough Council,” continued Sturtivant. “The council has the goal of reducing the cost of payment processing for council services. By using CXAIR, the council identified customers who use direct debit or other forms of electronic payments for some services but that still used traditional methods for others.

“By cross-referencing the information from different services, the council can encourage those customers who are more likely to use electronic payments to switch to electronic payments for all services. This will help the council to reduce the cost of processing payments.”

One of the main reasons that MKS chose to use CXAIR was due to its user-friendly approach to data analysis. CXAIR uses natural language search terms, meaning that non-technical staff can easily find the information they need and subsequently action it. This allows councils to identify patterns and trends in data sets without increasing costs by hiring specialist technical staff.

“We believe in the democratisation of business intelligence,” explained Greg Richards, Sales and Marketing Director at Connexica. “Many other business analytics software packages use SQL search terms, which require a high level of technical knowledge to search through and make use of information”.

“Natural language search means that any member of staff, regardless of their technical expertise, can navigate the data and action it. This is of great benefit to councils who don’t have the resources to employ a team dedicated to data analytics.”

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