News from eCasework

We’re inviting councillors to test the mobile version of eCasework on their smartphones, helping us to fix anything unsightly or unforeseen.

When we launched eCasework for computer and tablet in March, we were itching to get it ready for smartphones too, but we spent some time refining the app based on people’s feedback. Within the last few months, we’ve released a lot of new features, as well as some tiny improvements, and the time came to tackle mobile support. For the past couple of months we have been building the mobile version and it’s almost ready…

Now that we’re close to finishing our internal testing, we’re looking for councillors who can put the tool through its paces on their smartphones. You’ll need to manage your casework through the website using your smartphone, telling us whenever you spot something that needs fixing. Your data will always be kept safe by our strict security policy, all you need to get started is a mobile data tariff or Wi-Fi enabled.

Interested? Use the button below to sign up to the preview testing group and we’ll be in touch once it’s ready to go. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch via Twitter or email.

Thanks for your interest but applications are now closed.

News from eCasework

A few weeks ago, we released eCasework to a small group of people. We’ve been working on the app for almost a year now, trying to update the old system and usher in a new way for councillors to handle their casework. As it hadn’t been touched in a while, we decided to completely rebuild the system from the ground up. Yep, that’s right. We looked at the previous version, saw what worked, looked more closely at our userbase’s habits, and then wiped the slate clean.

Design is key
Well, not completely clean. We started out by defining and designing the essential parts of the system, the features that absolutely needed to be present if the app was to be useful. After a few weeks coding these, we revisited the design with fresh minds to think about the extra features that would set us apart from competitors.

Planning breeds efficiency
Now we had a fair body of work. Inside a couple of months, we had managed to develop an entire system, plan extra features, and started to extend its functionality beyond simple case management. Having said that, the app had plenty of bugs, extra features weren’t entirely integrated, and to top it off we only had a few channels to tell people about our product.

Time to prioritise. Cups of tea and notebooks at the ready, we started sorting and prioritising the list of features necessary for councillors to cogently manage their casework. Having laid to rest several whiteboard markers and at least two packets of biscuits (brain-fuel is essential…and sugary), we had specifications for versions 0.1, 1.0 and 1.1.

The three Ts: testing, testing, and testing
Software development wouldn’t be complete without this necessary step. Once a feature is built and bolted on, it’s time to put everything through its paces. More often than not, this proved to be a useful step by presenting methods we hadn’t previously considered. ‘What happens if I just do this one little thing differently?’ you wonder. And then up pops a bug, showing you another way to make the system more robust.

News from eCasework

Pick a picture to represent yourself. (No, not a selfie.) Find a shape or symbol that shows your character. Not so easy is it? As a councillor, there’s no doubting the values you stand for but choosing an image that shouts those ideas too can be tough.

That’s what we we’ve been up to recently. We know what eCasework is and where its future lies, but how do you translate that into pictures? Hire a bunch of talented designers, of course! Here’s what they came up with.

An idea from Charcoal Eater. An idea from NRE Branding Studio. eCasework logo idea from HenDsign.

Rather good, aren’t they? We were blessed with a wealth of design talent but had to settle on one. After a couple of round-tables and one seemingly prophetic dream (imagine your boss is a logo, that’s essentially the narrative that played out), we finally settled on our choice.

Et voilà! The winning designer was NRE Branding Studio whose designer used a bespoke font face for the typography and simplified the icon based on our feedback. Gone now are the bulky filing cabinets full of papers, reams of letters you could forget to reply to and leave someone sorry they elected you. eCasework is the replacement for that. It stores everything, allows you to access it wherever, whenever, tells you who to talk to and when to get in touch.

It’s your digital filing cabinet. We think the logo encapsulates that perfectly.

News from eCasework

It’s all too common a tale when you’re a local councillor. As a prominent figure in the local community, people may come to you with problems at any moment  – and all you’re trying to do is buy some groceries. Fitting your public role into your private life can be tough.

But you did sign up to this. Your community should feel like it can rely on you, that you’re approachable and trustworthy. And so juggling your bags and their concerns, you reach for your notebook to record their case. You scribble it down. Done.

That’s not the end though. When you get home, you’ve got to start the cogs of local democracy turning to get this problem solved. Only you’ve mislaid the note. You can’t remember their exact address. What were the finer details of their noise complaint again?

There’s a better way to stay organised.

Helping you to help them

For over 10 years, councillors across the UK have been using eCasework to record, track and complete cases brought to them by their public. It’s a useful tool, taken on centrally by Lambeth Council and Rotherham Council to help their councillors improve life for local residents. But as with everything, there comes a time when you need to do a bit of maintenance, tinker with things and make improvements. So we’re building a new version.

A new era

Without a doubt, technology plays an important role in the lives of most people. Technology has been helping businesses everywhere become more efficient and provide better services. There’s also a growing trend for councillors to become more active online and engage digitally with their local community.

With all of that in mind, the new version of eCasework is being designed from the ground up. Paying particular attention to mobile devices, scenarios like the mislaid note will become a thing of the past. Next time a neighbour raises a concern, you’ll be primed and ready to help. They can track the case too. You’ll be able to see if it’s part of a larger issue. Your casework can even start to inform local policy.

We want to help you

  • be a local champion
  • stay on the ball with community developments
  • engage personally with residents and business, and
  • get things done.

Join us!

Keep an eye on this blog or join us on Twitter to hear about all the latest developments. Current eCasework members can claim a discount on the new version now.

Thanks for reading!

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