We have had a number of discussions with members recently which have highlighted the problems around maintaining staff skills when it comes to using or supporting APP systems. There are a number of factors that may be behind this.
A lot of Authorities have had to cope with experienced staff moving on (for various reasons) and being replaced by relative newcomers with less experience of APP
Loss of skills may have been exacerbated by financial pressures, in turn aggravated by the consequences of Covid.
Although it’s a mature product, APP has still been an evolving product in recent years and new functionality may have been introduced that isn’t familiar to your officers.
There probably isn’t a single factor causing the problems, but a picture is emerging of some managers finding that their current staff may not be fully equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to get the best return on the investment in APP and perhaps therefore are not fully able to support operational field staff.
Solutions to this can range from a single
intervention with an individual staff member to wide-scale training needs in the basics of using APP or to a complete re-write of an in-house APP User’s Guide.
Although lockdown restrictions may be easing somewhat, many officers are still working remotely away from the office. Delivering training or refreshers either to new officers or to established staff in these circumstances has been less easy to organise.
If you’re in a situation where you need to put together some training update material for in-house use to maintain or restore the skill levels of those officers involved with APP, there are a few things to keep in mind:
APP Help Screens
Firstly, remember that APP has got built-in Help available in every program, with the information embedded and maintained by Civica. The Help dropdowns will give you access to Standard Features (generic) help as well as information specific to the program in use. Select Shift & F1 whilst your cursor is in an APP field and that will bring up any help for that specific field.
The APP system gets contextual Help information straight to the user as they are using the software, so it’s a valuable way of delivering training to support them
Create Your Own Help Screens
A strength of APP is its flexibility, so many Authorities will have their own local tweaks to the software. A really useful feature of APP is that the Help system can incorporate User-Defined Help screens, which enable you to customise the Help available to suit your own unique ways of using the product, including links to relevant parts of your own documented procedures or QA system. There is a Knowledge Base Article on the UserHub, to guide you through setting this up if it isn’t something you have utilised before.
There is a good variety of training-style material available on Civica’s UserHub, free to download. This covers a range of topics from fairly basic stuff through to system manager material. You’ll also get access to APP release notes which document the features of each release of the software.
You will need to have a registered login to the UserHub, but we recommend you do this anyway. Visit the UserHub at https://www.civica.com/en/userhub-accounts/log-in/ Once there, navigate to UserHub Dashboard/ APP regulatory Services/ Downloads to see what material is available. The UserHub is self-registering, therefore if you do not have an account set up, you will need to register. When you are prompted for product groups, request access to the APP Regulatory Services product group. Once you have registered and verified your account, your account will then be authorised by Civica.
Civica Customer Support Portal Knowledge Management
If you or a colleague do need to log a support call with Civica support on the portal, take the opportunity to insert some key words into the “How Can I Help You ?” field first. This will display a list of relevant Knowledge Base Articles based on key words, that can be downloaded. This might just provide you with the information you and your colleagues need.
There is always a wide range of training available from Civica, and this can be delivered online as well as face-to-face. Bespoke training can be customised to your requirements if needed. There will be a financial implication to training, but even sending one or two officers on a course so they can cascade their skills back at the office can be a good investment.
There are a number of Civica training courses scheduled over the next few months, which will be delivered via TEAMS. Scheduled courses include New User, System Admin, Reporting, Exporting and Refresher Training. You can find Service Descriptions of each of the courses along with the scheduled dates and costs on the UserHub under the Downloads/Training section
Remember also that peer support is available through the APP & Cx Community, via the Forums. You may find that other colleagues will share their documentation and training material on specific topics in response to a Forum post from you. There may be no need to re-invent the wheel.
Community Online Events
The APP & Cx Community has covered a range of APP topics in our online events and the information from those sessions is available to you from our website under the More/Resources tab. This material also includes archived material from Civica APP Userbase (the forerunner of UserHub) but please note this information will not have been updated by Civica if needed. Civica Support will advise you whether any specific document from this archive is still OK to use, however any current documentation will be available on the UserHub
APP Community Online Workshops
We are in a position to organise online workshops or tutorials on specific topics around the usage of APP, subject to a reasonable level of demand. So, if there is a subject you would like to see covered, just let me or any member of our Leadership Team, know and we’ll see what we can do.
Civica Remote System Administration
Finally, you may not be aware, but Civica provide a Remote System Administration package. APP experts can provide a remote service to assist the existing APP System Administrator with a broad spectrum of typical APP administration tasks, which is chargeable on an hourly basis. For further details and the costs of hourly bundles, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to your account manager.
Ken Searle Hilary Roch
Secretary Support Manager
APP & Cx Community Civica Regulatory Services