REVIEWER: Alan Honey, Data Manager for Islington Council, Islington Drug and Alcohol Action Team.
BACKGROUND: More than 180,000 people live and work in Islington. The community feel in Islington is what makes this borough so unique. To ensure that this remains the case, we are committed to the continued safety and well-being of every single resident living in Islington. Crime is of concern to all, and we are always looking at ways of making Islington a safer place to live, work and socialize.
PLATFORMS: Business & Decisions Mi-Case runs on an Oracle 10g database and has a relatively simple to use and dynamic Microsoft .Net front end, which gives the users a familiar browser-based experience. The solution is hosted by Business & Decision from the data-center they appear to share with Sunderland City Council.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Mi-Case helped us to meet a number of challenges posed by the U.K. governments approach to working with clients. These challenges were: How do we share information without compromising security? How do we allow practitioners to gather client information without impeding their-client facing capability? How do we safeguard the accuracy and timeliness of our data without retro fixing?
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Mi-Case is a Web-based multiagency case management solution that allows us to plot the progress (or otherwise) of an Islington drug user or offender as they go through the local authority, court, police and health care system. Each agency having a bearing on the citizen or client will make a different contribution and will require information on a different aspect of the person. Mi-Case allows us to do this securely and in an integrated fashion. Like all councils, Islington also has a responsibility to report information to central government agencies like the U.K. Home Office or the National Health Service (NHS). Mi-Case allows us to achieve this by cleansing data at the point of entry and offering easily compiled reports of the required data sets for transmission to corresponding central government solutions. We have made much use of the electronic versions of our commonly used paper forms that are integrated into Mi-Case. These include the Drug Intervention Record, the Drug Test Recorder and the various treatment assessment forms. These forms are populated with business rules and lots of drop-downs for us to control data entry and make sensible reporting easier.
STRENGTHS: Mi-Case is very simple to administer. The administration console screens are simple to use and powerful. As a non-technical administrator, I have the power to control who sees and does what very easily.
WEAKNESSES: The front end of the solution, while simple to use, could probably do with an upgrade to make it more attractive to the new user and have a little less white space.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Islington Council selected Mi-Case from a range of case management solutions (although it was the only true multi-agency case management solution on offer) following a full procurement process extending over 2007/2008. Other solutions, although strong in very specific areas, did not offer the breadth of functionality and the potential of Mi-Case to support joined up local government. One of many the reasons we selected Mi-Case was undoubtedly the market share Mi-Case already had, and the fact that this was represented in a strong independent user group, whose members are not afraid to put Business & Decision under a little pressure to deliver new functionality to meet changing requirements.
DELIVERABLES: The custom report writer is easy to use, allowing a non-techie to generate lots of clever reports and export them into Excel easily without leaving the application. Again, the front end of the report writer could perhaps do with a tidy up to give it a little more finesse, but its functionally is sound.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Business & Decision has been pretty good at supporting us since implementation and have been reasonably quick to enhance the product to meet new central government best practice rules (they have a responsibility to do this as part of our contract with them). They have some clever and dedicated staff, but sometimes they seem a little thin on the ground. We have had some on-site training which was quite poor, although we have had some good training as well. The help desk is adequate, but we find things move more quickly if we go directly to the consultants involved with the original implementation, who have been happy to help on an informal basis. In essence, we enjoy working with Business & Decision. We have a good relationship with our account manager, who seems to understand our requirements and has assisted us in extending the footprint of the solution across new agencies, including Pentonville Prison.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is pretty good, although the issue of new software version bulletins is sporadic and can be a little light on detail.
Business & Decision
8th Floor, 55 Old Broad Street
London, EC2M 1RX
+44(0) 207 997 6060