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Cascade October 2012 Monthly briefing to keep you up to date

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1 Cascade October 2012 Monthly briefing to keep you up to date
with news from across the council

2 Contents Keep calm and carry on?
The importance of effective business continuity plans We Can Stop It Council supports national rape prevention campaign Mystery Shopper How we respond to customers Going places? New centralised booking system for travel and accommodation My HR Got an HR question? Find the answer quickly with new web page and helpline Keeping in touch It’s good to talk – new links between services and communications team Making best use of our assets Draft arrangements for transfer of assets to third sector

3 Business Continuity Planning
What happens if disaster strikes? Do we keep calm and carry on? Or is there a little more involved? Find out more about the importance of effective business continuity planning.

4 What is business continuity planning?
Business continuity planning involves creating thorough and comprehensive plans which enable the council to restore quickly the delivery of essential services following events which disrupt normal arrangements. Both the Scottish and UK governments see business continuity planning as being just as important as emergency planning (often referred to as civil contingencies, to reflect the statutory framework). Business continuity planning is NOT: Dealing with the emergency incident itself Dealing with incidents having a national impact Dealing with every council activity

5 What is business continuity planning?
Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish business continuity planning from the emergency response itself, but there is guidance for managers to help them apply their resources to restoring vital services. The civil contingencies team help to co-ordinate the council’s response to the emergency itself. It is not feasible to produce detailed plans for every single activity that the council provides – but it is important to think about activities within your service that are critical and that may require business continuity planning.

6 Why do we need business continuity plans?
It’s easy to see the impact that unpredictable disruption can have on services – for example, harsh weather conditions and storms affecting our ability to deliver normal services. Argyll and Bute Council needs to have robust and practical plans in place to cope with unexpected service disruptions. If we don’t, there is a risk of significant loss. Unplanned arrangements could incur considerable costs or even legal action for failure to deliver critical services. The council’s reputation could be damaged in terms of political leadership, strategic decision making or management competence. Essential services need to be maintained. We have a legal duty to meet obligations to service users – and we also have a statutory duty for business continuity planning generally and for specific services like social work, under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.

7 How do we do it? As well as having robust and comprehensive plans in place, we also need to make sure that staff know and when to implement them. Business continuity has to be embedded in our day to day work and there are a number of ways that this can be achieved. Understanding how the council operates; determining business continuity strategies; developing and implementing a response; and exercising, maintaining and reviewing, is all part of effective business continuity planning management. Look at your service and identify which activities are ‘critical’. There is no agreed definition, but could be an activity which must still be delivered following an unexpected incident which would prevent it being delivered in the normal way. The council has to assess its own service activities and make objective decisions about which activities should be prioritised when it’s not possible to maintain ‘business as usual’.

8 How have we been doing it?
Glen Abbot worked with council staff in 2008 and produced a list of 110 ‘critical’ activities – this has also included scoring by service managers, a trigger level set by SMT and a final list approved by SMT Internal and external audits indicated that the system we were using could be improved – leading to a review project launched in February 2012. New tools and improved systems were developed – including impact assessments and a SharePoint site We consulted with communities, businesses and other public sector organisations We have a new assessment process New recovery plans for all critical activities have been produced We are raising awareness among all staff about the importance of embedding business continuity in normal service arrangements.

9 What critical activities are within each service?
Chief Executive’s Unit Treasury management Corporate communications during an incident Liaison with Civil Contingencies Unit Customer Services Litigation – ongoing court actions Elections, during election period Development and Infrastructure Roads and Amenity – storm damage; winter maintenance; emergency road defects Planning and Regulatory – dangerous buildings; public health; food health and safety; petrol safety; product safety; aspects of animal health Economic Development – essential ferry services Community Services Children and Families – child protection; vulnerable people; adoption; fostering; residential care; criminal justice Adult Care – care at home; residential care; telecare; vulnerable people Community and Culture – homelessness Education – education service during critical periods

10 What about you? Think about your service:
Do you know if your service delivers or supports a critical activity? Who invokes the plan? How? When? What is in the recovery plan? Are there any gaps in the plan? Could your plan be implemented in practice? What would your role be?

11 What do we need? Recovery plans ask managers to identify essential resources under each of the following headings: People Systems – IT and/or manual Premises – is relocation required? Equipment Suppliers/contractors Communication The plans also consider four scenarios and what actions would be required if: There is no access to the building A high percentage of staff are unavailable ICT systems are unavailable A key supplier or partner business is disrupted Services rarely operate in isolation and it is also important to identify all other services that support critical activities. Heads of service have signed off agreements to ensure that assistance will be available.

12 Recovery Plans – where we are now?
Service Number of recovery plans Status Strategic Finance 1 GREEN Improvement & HR 2 Adult Care 22 RED Children & Families 23 Homelessness 7 Governance & Law Economic Development AMBER Planning & Regulatory 6 Roads & Amenity Status / Action Required: Green – minimal / Amber – moderate / Red – significant The number of open actions is decreasing on a weekly basis. Some of these are fairly simple to fix e.g. contact details for external suppliers. This information will now be monitored on Pyramid on a quarterly basis

13 What happens next? Regular awareness raising of the importance of effective business continuity planning – for all staff and new starts Training for area emergency response teams Schedule of exercises to test all recovery plans Self assessment by managers Regular audits and improvements Your business continuity planning contacts in Argyll and Bute Council are: Chief Executive’s Unit – Ernie Brown Community Services – Helen Thornton Customer Services – Iain Jackson Development and Infrastructure – Lesley Sweetman They will be happy to help with any queries you may have.

14 We can stop it – rape prevention action
A Scotland-wide police campaign is seeking to raise awareness of recent changes in the law on rape and sexual assault. ‘We can stop it’ uses young men in the 18 to 27 age group to act as positive role models, asking men to consider their own behaviour and the part they can play in preventing rape. Under the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009, previous legislation has been reformed and a new range of offences created, including: Sex when a victim is asleep or unconscious Sex without consent due to inebriation Male rape Argyll and Bute councillors are keen to support ‘We can stop it’ – emphasising that while many people associate rape with a violent assault by a stranger in a dark alley, in reality most rapes are carried out by a partner, an acquaintance, a friend or a date. Find more information on the campaign at

15 Customer Service Mystery Shopping Outcomes
Each year since 2010 the council has asked an independent company to mystery shop council services to test the standard of our customer service. The exercise has three purposes: To check performance against our customer charter standards To benchmark against other councils’ performance To identify any areas of customer service delivery weakness that can be improved. The mystery shopping exercise is undertaken by a company that specialises in public sector mystery shopping and recruits local people to complete the mystery shopping tasks. Up to 28 other councils across the UK were subject to identical exercises and the results compared to assess rankings for each communication channel. Up to 36 customer interactions are completed for each channel in order to provide a representative sample. The company decides what enquiries are made – we decide who or where they are sent to.

16 Customer Service Mystery Shopping Outcomes
This year’s exercise has shown an encouraging improvement in results for all our main customer contact channels: Telephone contact scored 87 per cent (79 per cent last year ) handling scored 77 per cent (75 per cent last year) Letter enquiry handling scored 64 per cent (55 per cent last year) Face to face enquiries scored 88 per cent (86 per cent last year) Argyll and Bute Council performed above the national council average for , letter and face to face contacts. Each interaction with the council is scored for response, content and quality. In addition for face to face transactions the office facilities are scored too. The scores for each section are weighted and an overall score arrived at. The percentages above reflect the overall score. Service managers get the individual mystery shopper scoring sheets back so they can see the detailed observations and provide feedback to employees.

17 Customer Service Mystery Shopping Outcomes
The exercise evaluated performance against our Customer Service Charter pledges and found that: Twelve measures had improved Three were unchanged Three were worse The full outcomes and the report analysing the findings are available on the Customer Service Toolkit on the Hub and have also been made available to customers on the Customer Charter pages of the council website. The mystery shopping outcomes are mapped to the equivalent customer service pledge to provide an overall score for that pledge and as the format stays the same (only the enquiries change), it is possible to track performance over time. We now have Charter data for the past three years and this is all published to customers on the council website.

18 Customer Service Mystery Shopping Outcomes
Although improvements have been made, the exercise highlighted a number of areas where we can all contribute to improving performance: Telephone  Please give a salutation when answering the phone (hello, good morning, you are through to, etc) as well as the department or service name when answering the phone. Managers – please cascade and monitor. When transferring a call, tell the caller where (and who, if possible) they are being transferred to. s and Webmails A third of responses did not include a name, job title or contact telephone number. These are the basic elements of an electronic signature for which there is guidance on the Hub. Check you have an signature on your personal account and that there is one on any generic team accounts that you use. The improvement lessons are as important as the scores and over the past three years many improvements have been implemented as a result, from better translation information at Customer Service Points to the production of an Effective Call Handling Guide. Ultimately good customer service is about all of us taking responsibility to resolve requests and enquiries as speedily, fully and professionally as possible.

19 Customer Service Mystery Shopping Outcomes
Letters  Thirty per cent of letters received NO reply. Please ensure that all letters you are responsible for handling have a response within the Charter standards. This will be subject to more intensive checks in the future. Only eight per cent of shoppers said that replies were friendly. Friendliness of tone helps to ensure the council is not seen as a bureaucratic, impersonal organisation. As a minimum, please thank the customer for their letter or enquiry.

20 New travel/accommodation booking system
A pilot for the centralisation of all travel and accommodation bookings for Customer Services and Development and Infrastructure Services ran between March and May 2012. Following the completion of the pilot, an Outcomes Report was taken to the Admin Review Project Board and SMT, where it was agreed that the pilot had been successful and that the centralisation of all travel and accommodation bookings be rolled out across all departments.  It was also agreed that three permanent Purchasing Assistants would be appointed to fulfil this roll within the Corporate Sourcing Team – Cameron McGeachy, Mairi McKinven and Claire Large. Information about travel and accommodation request forms has been communicated to all staff and the new system rolled out across all departments from Monday 1 October.

21 New travel/accommodation booking system
In the meantime, the Procurement and Commissioning team would like to hear from those employees within Community Services and the Chief Executive’s unit who are currently responsible for the booking of travel and accommodation, to learn of any special rates you have negotiated and to obtain details of frequently used providers who offer a good service.  This will help to maintain and develop a database of providers and to maintain consistency in the standard and quality of accommodation booked. If you have any information or questions, please contact Cameron McGeachy on or Mairi McKinven on or them at Thank you to all staff for your cooperation and patience as this new process is rolled out. Many thanks, Procurement and Commissioning Team

22 New HR page on The Hub HR have launched a new look employee information page called MyHR at HR.aspx Employees will now see all HR information in clearly defined areas which are quick and easy to find. If you cannot find the information you are looking for on the Hub page or if you have any further queries regarding HR policies and procedures you can now call our new advice line (Tel: (press 2), open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) or

23 New contact telephone number for HR
A new employee information line to compliment the new look ‘MyHR’ page on The HUB has been set up. HR advisors will be available to answer any queries employees may have if they cannot find the solution on the MyHR Hub page. The telephone number for MyHR for reporting sickness/absence or contacting HR for advice is: You will be prompted to: Press 1 for the Absence Line – to report sickness absence Press 2 for the HR Advice Line – for any HR queries/advice The Absence Line is open Monday – Friday from 07.00 – The HR Advice Line is open Monday – Friday from 09.00 –   Employees can also contact the HR Advice team via on:

24 Contacting HR Teams Further to a recent re-structure within HR please find below the new HR team addresses which should now be used. If you would like further details on any of the teams please see MyHR on The Hub. HR Queries and Advice For HR queries regarding policies and procedures or for general advice please visit our new MyHR page. If you cannot find the answer to your query you can call MyHR to talk to an advisor on or HR and Payroll Transactions Team Contractual Team: Attendance Team : Payroll and Pensions Team : Recruitment Team : Corporate Support - Employee Relations - Development Team -

25 HR Postal Mail Following restructure within the HR service, all postal mail for HR and Payroll teams must be sent to the following address: FAO Improvement and HR Argyll and Bute Council Whitegates Office Whitegates Road Lochgilphead Argyll PA31 8SY Please do not send any postal mail to the HR Offices in Kilmory/Dunoon or Campbeltown from this date. Please note: Time sheets only should still be sent for the attention of Argyll and Bute Council, Improvement and HR, Witchburn Road, Campbeltown, PA28 6JU. If you have any queries regarding postal mail please do not hesitate to contact

26 Keep in touch! Argyll and Bute Council’s communications team is here to help you – and now each council service has been allocated a communications officer to work alongside: Development and Infrastructure – Lindsey Ingram ( ) Community Services – Sheila Faichney ( ) Customer Services – Aileen McNicol ( ) - Over the coming months, we’ll be getting to know your service better – and while most people may know us from dealing with reactive press enquiries, we are also keen to hear about the good news stories in your service and teams. We can help in lots of different ways. Do you have a brochure or leaflet to produce? Some material to write? A photo opportunity? Contact the communications team for support with all this and more.

27 Making best use of our assets
Argyll and Bute Council holds each of its property assets as a resource to be used in service delivery and to support and contribute to its corporate objectives. However, the council also has a key role to play in supporting the third sector to provide important services in our communities. Transfer of some council assets to third sector organisations can help to empower communities as well as achieving better value for money and sustainable outcomes for both the council and the wider community. When councillors met on Thursday 20 September, they agreed the Draft Third Sector Asset Transfer arrangements – the start of a formal framework which will provide a rigorous and fair process to follow when considering whether to transfer an asset. The process will assess and identify the capability of applicants to sustain the asset on an ongoing basis, as well as highlighting any wider benefits to the community that may arise.

28 Making best use of our assets
Background In 2010 the council agreed that suitable arrangements should be put in place to support the transfer of assets to the third sector. The Demonstration Project Board worked on the asset transfer pack initially; final stages of consultation and proposed implementation are being monitored by the Third Sector and Communities CPP sub-group. SMT recommended a panel to oversee the process, including representatives from various departments. A prioritisation approach was agreed by the sub-group. Potential conflicts with Community Right to Buy legislation have been explored. In common with other local authorities, work is ongoing on appropriate dissolution clauses for protection in the event of problems with a third sector organisation which takes over an asset. Business cases will play an important part in any asset transfer process.

29 Got something for Cascade?
Cascade is normally issued to managers on the first Friday of the month, and goes live on The Hub one week later. If you have anything for future issues of Cascade please send it to the communications team at: or contact Aileen McNicol on Cascade depends on your contributions, and we’re happy to help with layout, content and presentation if you wish. The next Cascade is due to be distributed on Friday 2 November. If you have anything you’d like included, please send it by Friday 26 October. We can help with formatting and creating slides – don’t hesitate to call if you would like some assistance with this or any other communications issue.

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