The A2Dominion Group is one of the country's leading providers of high quality housing. The A2Dominion Group now provides over 34,000 homes across London and southern England with thousands in development.
The Group offers a wide range of housing options including affordable rented, temporary, student, care & support, and key worker accommodation, as well as homes for sale and shared ownership through its A2Dominion New Homes brand.
The Group, as a Registered Provider with charitable status, requires employees, board members and other individuals related to the organisation to complete a Declaration of Interests form once a year, as well as on any occasion when their DoI information changes.
However, with around 900 employees in 67 offices across London and southern England, A2Dominion’s governance team began to find that keeping track of these and other forms using a paper-based system was a significant administrative burden, and sought to move to an electronic system to record, track, approve and retain DoI forms without the need for manual scrutiny.
SharePoint 2010 was already in the pipeline as the replacement for the Intranet and there was a realisation that SharePoint could be used for much more than just web pages and document management.
Richard Gray, Managing Director at Parabola, explained:
“As well as being a great staff collaboration platform SharePoint is very extensible. When organisations are using SharePoint as the platform for staff communication or HR processes, there is often a good business case for a purpose built application on the SharePoint platform”
A2Dominion, which had made use of Parabola’s considerable SharePoint experience before, turned to them once again to implement a solution to this process automation and records management challenge. The new online process was built upon the existing SharePoint platform, in line with IT strategy and is accessible to all staff in the group.
The content of the DoI form and approval status for each employee is now completely handled by the application which makes extensive use of SharePoint workflows and tasks. Every employee’s Active Directory account is used by SharePoint to authorise their use of the application, and email alerts are used to remind those who have not yet completed their DoI form to do so. DoIs must be completed at least once a year, so the system is configured to remind staff in each department on a nominated week each year. This results in a situation where most people will complete the DoI without any need for managers chasing them. If the alert is ignored for a certain amount of time, a further reminder will be sent, and eventually the issue will be escalated to the direct manager of the individual, or finally the Governance team, who if necessary will talk to them personally.
Retrieval and reporting of the DoI information are hugely improved by the application. Completed DoI forms are held in a database so they are very easy to retrieve and generate reports from. For example; it is now easy to view both an employee's most recent DoI and the previous versions in the database.
Records Management obligations are much easier to meet. After 6 years of retention DoI records will be eligible for deletion, although the organisation is able to retain them for longer if necessary. Security is also much improved. In comparison to the previous paper-based system where a form left on somebody’s desk it could be read by anybody who happened to see it, the new solution restricts access to each staff member and their manager.
The new process has been found to be considerably more efficient than the paper-based system it replaced. Tracking of employee completion of the form as well as the creation and retention of records of them was significantly simplified.
Trevor Whittaker, Head of Business Systems at A2Dominion Group, commented:
“The use of intelligent workflows has the potential to improve additional Group processes as demonstrated by our success with the Declaration of Interest management. Taking the cumbersome burden of paper management processes out of the loop simplifies and significantly improves the way we work. SharePoint 2010 is delivering efficiencies across our entire organisation.”
Feedback from A2Dominion staff has been very positive. Employees recognise the advantages of using SharePoint to automate the DoI process over the previous paper-based system, especially given the efficiency savings gained by reducing the administration required. The Group is now investigating how they might benefit from automating other similar business processes using SharePoint.