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Civica in the hot seat! Transcript (ish) of the recent Q&A

For this blog, we've created a transcription of the recent quizzing of Robin by Angie at the recent user group meeting - paraphrased slightly for your reading pleasure!

Question: Although the effort going into developing Cx is considerable, there are smaller regulatory services that may not have the financial resource to make a commitment to change to Cx from APP. What reassurances can you give that they will still be supported for the foreseeable future?

Answer: Civica are committed to supporting APP and maintaining it for legislative updates / significant bug fixing until it is officially de-supported. APP still has dedicated development resource and is fully supported by our QA team and the Service Desk.

We’re in the process of releasing APP 8.9.0003, to support customers using assessments spreadsheets. We’ve already set out a schedule of work that sees us working through 2022, to deliver updates to the private water supply return and to work with the HM Land Registry to interface with the centralised land charges register.

We would like to hear from authorities having concerns about the cost of moving to Cx, to see how we can help them, either through engagement with procurement teams, helping to realise the advantages to using Cx, or by helping them better understand the cost of change. It may not be as much as they fear and the cost of not changing may be disproportionate.

Question: Our members have invested a lot with Civica in developing APP over the years and hold it in high regard. In what ways do you see Cx as being an improvement over APP and what are the key benefits our members will get from switching to it?

Answer: Thanks Angie. Cx offers several advantages over APP. Being based on modern technology, there are many things that are not technically possible in APP which include things like automation. Cx isn’t constrained by the number of characters used to describe a code field – because we don’t use codes, we use descriptions. You may see in our social media feeds that we properly describe core entities in Cx (contacts, assets, businesses and vehicles for example), reducing conflict in data management. The entity history isn’t limited to the last 5 inspections – you have visibility of all of the historic inspections, as well as all associated activities.

As a cloud hosted solution, Cx is more secure then on-premises solutions, being supported by Microsoft’s security measures, resilience measures and also the additional measures that Civica have implemented around the environment to protect your systems. Many authorities have been affected by cyber-attacks over the past year, and have moved to cloud hosted solutions as a safer alternative.

Cx is the platform that Civica are investing in for the future and this has been particularly evident in recent releases. Civica now has several teams contributing to Cx as a platform and we’ve been able to take advantage of the development from those other teams, such as additional query reporting tools, significant updates to the forms

Question: Cx is a very different product. What is your advice for customers embarking on the journey from APP to Cx and what pitfalls do you think they need to watch out for?

Answer: This is a really good point Angie. Cx is a different system. It is not a new front end on top of an older system – which is an approach some of our competitors have taken. We’ve taken this as an opportunity to redesign the system to reduce the amount of movement through the system that someone has to take.

Working with authorities such as yourselves and others, we understand that it’s important that the project team understand the key differences between APP and Cx. The differences can be subtle, such as terminology, but can also be in system design. The way that people respond to change is influenced by how they are taken on that journey, so preparation is the key to success.

Understanding what those differences are, and embracing them is critical. We’ve documented the changes in terminology and have created a range of media to help support the process for example. This includes how to guides that Hilary and the support team have created – accessible on user hub. It also includes video tutorials that have been created and narrated by Andy, to show how to achieve common tasks.

I think it’s important for there to be departmental champions assigned to the project, to help share the vision with the wider team and support them as they begin using Cx, so that individual teams are supported and brought ton board.

I’m grateful to have been able to hear first hand some of the lessons learnt from authorities having joined us on Cx. Suggestions such as keeping a decision log, so that you can refer back to it, t understand why key project decisions we made is a useful thing.

Question: What areas or functionality within Cx do Civica see as the highest priorities for development, in the next 12 months?

Answer: Good question! I’ve got a really exciting roadmap set out for 2022, which includes a really interesting set of capabilities. This includes:

  • Better supporting the investigations / prosecutions process

  • Offering integrations to managed communication services for email, printing and SMS.

  • Integrations with national critical systems to make your processes more efficient.

  • Mobile inspection capabilities, to enable officers to do more in the field using Civica’s mobile Cx application.

  • Offering efficient spatial capability for licensing cases

  • Supporting changing legislation, such as short term lets in Scotland and potential changes in the HHSRS

  • Improving our self-serve capabilities by introducing a bot capability to public websites to create cases and support Q&A.

We’ve also received valuable feedback from existing customers and will be working through those to continually improve the experience of the system. An example of this would be to improve the

Question: The Regulatory Services environment is continually changing. How do you ensure that Cx is fit for purpose, and can remain so as users' requirements evolve?

Answer: Civica’s strategy has always been to employ from within the service areas that we support. This means that we have ex TSOs and EHOs for example who maintain their CPD by attending events and keeping up to date with industry news.

We also sponsor and attend the major conferences, enabling us to hear about the changes from industry experts and to understand the challenges that you face. Sometimes this identifies legislative changes, other times it highlights the pressures that evolving teams face and enables us to realise how Cx can help with those challenges.

As part of our development strategy, we also review the architecture of Cx to look for strategic improvements and keep it up to date with modern development technologies. Outside of my product roadmap, we’ve also got a series of architectural changes that we are making to improve Cx, like improving the APIs, the way we store documents.

We also work with authorities to understand any specific challenges they face and review how we can help.

Question: At what point would you see Cx as becoming a 'mature' product?

Answer: We’ve achieved a lot in the last 4 years. Developed 4 modules, a register, a portal for two service areas, a mobile solution and a reporting database.

We’re now putting in the additional capability into Cx that is in APP. This includes things like additional reporting, or automated tools to manage data. I realise that APP is the product that Cx is being compared to, but let’s acknowledge that APP is 36 years old this year mind!

Cx has also been used in the housing sector for circa 8 years now and has well established capabilities in it because of this.

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