Established in 1939, Citizens Advice is an organisation that provides free, confidential and independent information and guidance to the general public. Additionally, they also make a lasting impact at a local, regional and national level by improving the policies and practices that may affect people’s lives.
The national organisation is composed by a network of 280 independent local charities across England and Wales. They are supported by over 22,000 trained volunteers and 7,000 paid staff distributed around their multiple locations.
In 2019, Citizens Advice Pennine West and Citizens Advice Stockport started collaborating to further improve their service delivery and better learn from their shared experiences. However, joining forces between four different locations highlighted key challenges that needed to be addressed in order to deliver the best possible service to the general public.
A legacy of multiple IT systems and provisions, varying levels of experience and different ways of working, hindered collaboration between the different teams. They needed help, not only to bring both of their domains together from a technical perspective. But also to enable their staff to come together as one organisation - and to drive innovation and deliver exceptional services to their customers.
This was essential to achieve their long-term objective of becoming a truly transformational and unified organisation.
When it came to finding the right cloud provider for their needs, it was clear to Citizens Advice that G Suite was the best fit for their needs. Julian Spencer, Business Support Manager at Citizens Advice Pennine West, says: “G Suite delivered more of what we needed. It has the tools that allow us to collaborate better and, ultimately, deliver the exceptional service our customers expect from us.”
And when it came to finding the right partner to guide them on this journey, it was essential for them to find an organisation that would truly understand their needs and long-term ambitions. Steve Hughes, CEO at Citizens Advice Stockport, explains: “When looking for a partner to assist us in our technology transformation, we required a company who understood the rationale behind the project and reflected the values of our organisation. CTS undoubtedly did that.
“Throughout the project, they showed a willingness and ability to adapt to challenging circumstances, whilst at the same time instilling confidence that the project would be delivered successfully. We look forward to developing this partnership further.”
Julian adds: “One of the most pleasing aspects of our relationship with CTS was the fact that, immediately, they understood that change management would be vital for us to become a truly transformative organisation.
This project will allow us to future-proof our organisation and ensure we’re equipping our staff and volunteers with the best tools, the best training and the best working environment we can, so they can excel in their roles. Which ultimately means that the general public gets a better level of service.”
The project was delivered in two phases, all under lockdown conditions. First, a team of early adopters went live on G Suite to familiarise themselves with the different tools available. Four weeks later, the rest of the organisation was moved over.
CTS also delivered a tailored change management plan, which served as the true catalyst to drive transformation within the organisation. This plan was informed by an in-depth user discovery phase, where CTS explored the best way to engage staff and deliver long-lasting results.
As a result, all staff received G Suite training to help them make the most of their new collaboration tools. A Google Guides community was also implemented within the organisation. This would help ensure that, should staff require it, there was always an internal group of people that could help them make the most of G Suite’s capabilities.
When it comes to describing their experience working with CTS, Julian explains: “Throughout the project, each member of CTS were unstinting in the support they provided, always available at a moments notice to respond to an issue, provide guidance or allay any concerns we might have.
“The fact that the project was rolled out in challenging circumstances further highlights the excellent work that was delivered. Indeed, the adaptability and resolve shown by CTS demonstrate further the exceptional level of support they provided.”
Now, after moving everyone in the organisation into the joint domain, staff are starting to reap the benefits of this journey. As Julian adds: “People are already working more collaboratively on documents, and using Meet and Chat has become a daily occurrence for us. G Suite, and particularly Meet, has allowed us to remain connected and check in on each other in these challenging times.
I am confident that our staff and volunteers have benefited enormously from the change management and training programme we have delivered and I am certain that we are in a position where we are significantly ahead of where we expected to be at this stage of our transformation initiative.”