It was my first visit to the yearly Civica event, traditionally held in Manchester. My destination from Northern Ireland was Terminal 1 at Manchester Airport via the orange airline.
Registration was simple, beforehand via ‘Outsourced Events'.
In Manchester, I arrived on the day of a Northern Railway RMT Strike, whilst the service was delivered, timetables were revised, the local station to the conference venue, Deansgate was closed and I felt a bit lost. Luckily, my son, who spent just over a year in Salford City, was able to assist, technology let me down with none of the apps reporting accurate trains!
I arrived at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate Hotel in good time. Left my bag with the hotel concierge in a dedicated area, they informed me that my luggage would be left in my room at some stage this morning.
The registration desk was staffed by a friendly and efficient team, badge / lanyard, the size of a bread board(!) provided; I headed upstairs to the main event. Coffee in hand I visited the stands of the main sponsors Dukes Bailiffs , M3 Housing , Kirona Solutions and PCi Pal Networking is an important part of any conference, I spent time chatting to User Group members, past, present and prospective, Civica management, product and sales staff.
The Conference started at 10.25 in a massive conference room with a stage at one end highlighting Civica using two screens and one static display. Wayne Story, CEO set the scene for today and tomorrow.
At 10.40 there was a Panel discussion (I think we should copy this for the User Group Conference in October!) Headed by an excellent host, known to many of you, Paul Johnson, Director, Institute of Fiscal Studies On the panel where Donna Hall, Chief Executive, Wigan Council, Ben Page, CEO Ipsos Mori, Manjeet Gill, Interim Chief Executive, Wokingham Borough Council, John Morrissy, Assistant Director, Bolton Council. I found the discussion subject: Is collaboration the answer to complex challenges and better local outcomes? With demand now as big an issue as austerity, how can services be sustained? This panel will debate the future of service delivery, how organisations might collaborate across sectors and with communities, the voluntary sector and partners to meet increased demand and expectation, empower citizens and drive local growth. Interesting, each of the panel members were superb and reflecting their experience against the subject.
At 11.35 Ben Page, CEO Ipsos Mori was the Keynote speaker, a very accomplished speaker and presenter. Ben loves his statistics and has an incredibly relevant way of presenting complex data, in understandable terms.
We were all ready for lunch at 12noon, quick, finger foods, all labelled (I hate fish!) which was great, more networking, and at 1pm:
Streamed sessions: Delegates attended a session relevant to their role, where they heard from peers, thought- leaders and industry experts. I attended the Community Protection, APP stream. Headed up by Dean Greenouff, Managing Director, Civica Community Protection, who introduced the new conference format of streamed sessions. It was great to see the first speaker, your last User Group Chair, Chris Higgins, she detailed her Transformation Journey, obstacles and how to break through most of them.
Matthew Wylie, National Executive APP User Group Member and Principal Systems Developer in Salford City Council. He discussed Innovation to transformation at Salford, a 24/7, anytime, any device approach to Council Service. How he achieved this, now implementing the All on Mobile a single customer account, online forms and much more so the citizen can access services when they need to.
Andrea Dell ‘Aquila from Stockton on Tees presented how mobile working has revolutionised part of their service (waste collection) at Stockton. Many members will have seen Andrea’s excellent presentation at the User Group Conference in 2017. She is set to present again this year.
Paul Shawley, an Operations Director at Civica stood in for a sadly ill Reba from Rugby. He discussed Managing change in local government. I was impressed by Paul’s ability to communicate with his audience, discussing managing change; he may find an invite in the post to talk at the User Group Conference! (Do not mention to him, we have not asked yet)
Finally Trevor Hodges from Civica talked about data management, unlocking the power of data.
After a brief break, we assembled again for some networking prior to an excellent dinner! The suprise for me was Josh Widdicombe from Mock the Week, a hilarious piece of stand up. He got the audience, perfectly!
An early start on the next and final day for the APP Stream. This time it was the turn of the Civica staff to present their team update, product vision and roadmap. The audience gave plenty of feedback to the staff present.
We heard from Emily, Nick, Matthew and Robin. They outlined the CX journey. The transition from APP to CX. Please follow Robin’s blog on the User Group Website for more information regarding CX.
It was a useful two days, I would recommend, if you get invited, to attend the event. I came away with a lot more useful information and contacts.