Essex County Fire & Rescue Service
- Implemented self-service portal to reduce calls into the service desk by 10 percent
- Powerful new change management process easily extended to include third party suppliers
- Implementation across IT and HR departments to support key functions
- Extensive roadmap of new projects from mobile implementation to exploring machine learning
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has a simple vision – to make Essex a safe place to live, work and travel. The service is one of the largest in the UK, covering 1,338 square miles and 1.7 million people.
With over a thousand whole time and on-call firefighters and around 300 control and support personnel, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is a large and complex operation. The scope of its support area, and the fact that lives are potentially at risk, mean that it is essential for everything within the service to operate smoothly and efficiently.
Alongside essential frontend emergency response capabilities, the service also needs efficient and reliable backend systems in place for supporting staff such as its ICT and HR teams
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is a longstanding customer of Cherwell’s IT Service Management platform, having first deployed the solution six years ago. Today its 28-strong ICT team relies on the solution and the platform is also used by Essex County Fire and Rescue Service’s 15 HR staff.
After using the Cherwell solution for several years and continually applying in-house developments to the platform, the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service IT team decided to take a fresh approach to facilitate several new capabilities.
Martin Chester, Service Delivery Manager at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, explains: “The Cherwell platform allows for a fantastic level of customization and it is used to its full potential by our in-house team. We decided it was time to revert to the out-ofthe- box solution so that we could cleanly update to the newest version and introduce more functionality more freely.”
The main priority for the change was to introduce a self-service portal to allow staff to log requests easily and reduce the number of calls to the support team. In addition, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service also implemented several key features through the Cherwell platform, unifying processes including approvals, internal incident reporting and problem and change management.
“Our change process is particularly slick now”, explains Martin. “Previously, we had no firm change control in place and our weekly change meetings focused on reviewing past changes rather than looking ahead. With the new system in place, we have full overview of the changes that are due to be implemented and can discuss any issues and risks for upcoming changes, as well as rollbacks if anything goes wrong. We have, so far, not had a single change issue under the new approach.”
Since refreshing its use of the Cherwell system and updating to the latest version, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has seen a number of powerful benefits to its operations, and has several other implementations planned.
The introduction of a self-service portal has been an integral part of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service drive to improve efficiencies and streamline core processes for both the service desk staff and the users. Prior to the updated self-service portal, the team were receiving 2,500 new inbound tickets a month. Now, for the first time, the number of calls to the support team has been reduced by nine percent and 10 percent of new tickets are now handled through the portal. Essex County Fire and Rescue Service’s goal is to reduce the number of new inbound tickets to 1,700 a month.
A new knowledge base is currently under development to enable staff to resolve calls during their first point of contact, without needing to raise additional tickets.
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is also planning to add automated password reset functionality and an automated equipment request form to replace the current time-consuming manual process. A new notification system will also enable a much higher level of communication between staff and the support team.
The new change management process has also been so successful that Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has opted to expand its use to include external suppliers as well.
Martin explains: “We have successfully tied the new change management system into our supply chain. Suppliers now have to provide us with their change plans and go through our change management process as well. This approach has gone down really well with our suppliers as it lets us work together more closely, enabling us all to have greater control, governance and visibility around the impact of planned changes.”
Implementing the latest version of Cherwell across the business also means that the ICT and HR teams are on the same system for the first time, allowing for greater collaboration moving forward. The HR department is implementing new features to improve processes such as monthly reviews, and the two departments are working together to automate the starters, movers and leavers process.
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is keen to build on its successes and has an extensive roadmap of new additions and developments for the Cherwell system, with projects stretching over the next 18 months and beyond.
“An important goal for us is to become more proactive compared to our current reactive stance, and the visibility and flexibility afforded by the Cherwell solution is a huge advantage in achieving this,” Martin explains. He continues: “Our current project is to introduce a new automated approach to our reporting system,” Martin explains.
“The existing manual system can be very time consuming and involves multiple steps such as exporting into Excel. We hope to save a great deal of time for our team by automating as much of the process as possible. Our reports were also previously quite limited, but we are planning to expand the scope with the increased visibility afforded by the Cherwell dashboard.”
The team is also planning to implement a number of other features such as furthering its asset management capabilities and utilizing the project portfolio management (PPM) functionality offered by Cherwell. Work is underway to introduce support for web browsers, iOS and Android devices to enable staff to take the system with them anywhere and log requests directly.
Martin concludes: “The possibilities presented by the Cherwell platform are almost endless and we’re very excited to explore new options. We are currently planning to roll out version 10 of the software as soon as it is available and have plans to further integrate the IT and HR uses of the platform with other elements of the business. We are also looking further ahead and are keen to start bringing in self-learning elements like artificial intelligence and machine learning, which we could eventually use to address support calls automatically.”
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