Round-up: NDL Community Summit 2021

Following the close of our 2021 Community Summit, we’ve rounded up some of the biggest moments of the three-day virtual event – from achievements across the community, to the latest news about our own product suite developments.

If you’re a member of the NDL Community, you can rewatch every session from the summit over on the Customer Portal – but if you’re not yet a member, or you’re simply in a pinch for time, you can catch up on everything you missed below!

Big results

This year’s community speakers shared their most recent digital transformation projects and achievements, with a big focus on remaining agile and innovative in the public sector throughout the pandemic. Here’s our round-up of a handful of accomplishments with low-code mobile app, eForm and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technologies:

Project Showcase – App edition

In this session, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) and Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council representatives presented their implementations of both eForm and mobile-app technologies in response to the pandemic.

Using both MX and FX platforms, UHMBT were able to streamline patient vaccination bookings, vaccination administration by healthcare staff, COVID-19 testing and on-site Contact Tracing. With of online booking eForms and administrative MX mobile apps, UHMBT’s Head of Digital Services Marc Hardwin mentioned their internal and external COVID-19 response solutions saved 60 admin hours every day over 18 months. According to our own maths, that’s:

  • 32,820 hours saved
  • equal to 1,367.5 days (calculated based on a 24-hour period)
  • which is the same as 75 years!

Wigan Council also found great success when responding quickly to the demands of the pandemic with a digital-first solution. As one of the 10 local authorities to pilot COVID-19 testing, they also implemented a booking eForm for their residents – which allowed them to deliver over 1,000 tests per week.

As the first in England to craft a viable digital COVID-19 test booking system, the significant reduction in admin overheads allowed Wigan to develop surge and hotspot testing, in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus. To really celebrate the success of this project, Wigan Council’s video case study was debuted in this session – letting us all hear the impact of this digital innovation on its residents and staff members, directly from the team.

Watch the session

Project Showcase – RPA edition

During the second Project Showcase session of the Summit, we heard from community speakers Conwy County Borough Council and Circle Health. Both organisations used bots – or as Will Valintine, Principle Technical Solutions Architect at Conwy Council called them, Neville Higginthorpes – to automate significant tasks.

Will Valinitine's Neville Higginthorpe RPA bot

Conwy Council’s aims included completion of a large data migration, and automation of school admission and transfer requests. Using RPA, they were able to:

  • successfully migrate 12 million documents without error or data loss
  • reduce potential costs by £250,000
  • and save months in admin overheads.

Dan Smith, Head of Operations explained how Circle Health implemented RPA across several projects – including automated Referral Services in Triage, Discharge and Physiotherapy – and the processing of historical backlogged data.

Using the SX platform, while developing in-house talent with the NDL mentorship programme, the team achieved:

  • amends to over 300,000 records in 6 weeks for data quality improvement
  • plans for a further 200 automated processes, implemented for reduced admin overheads and improved accuracy
  • as well as full autonomy on 90% of all referrals.

Of course, that’s not all the NDL community has achieved this year. You can find even more fantastic results and inspiring digital transformations over on the Success Stories page.

Watch the session

Big announcements

Many of our favourite achievements are the results and benefits found by our community – and to bolster them the best we can, we’re constantly looking for new ways to improve our products and services. Numerous sessions with familiar NDL faces aimed to help our customers get the most from our software, with updates, tips, demos – and even exclusive announcements. Here’s what you missed!

  • Get 6 months free FX: Based on its previous success, we’re extending our offer of a free 6-month open-access license to existing members of the NDL Community. Get in touch to claim yours.
  • The NDL Community Awards: Entries for this year’s Community Awards are now open, closing 10/09/21 – click here to find out more.
  • FX | 2021 Spring Update: Customers can now take advantage of the biggest ever update for FX - including 13 brand-new, exciting features to help you make the most of every eForm. Get in touch for upgrade assistance.
  • Digital Transformation Suite updates: Brand new updates for both MX and FX platforms will be available later this year, with launches scheduled for Autumn. Find all the latest versions available now on the Customer Portal.
  • SX update in development: Following the release of last year’s SX | 2020 Summer Update, the latest version of SX is currently in development – with sneak peek improvements to include enhanced support for modern web browsers, further Microsoft Screen Scaling handling and profiling of the Windows Desktop and System Tray.
  • Hub | CORE v1: We previewed the new and improved answer to our original transaction queuing and orchestration software, QX. Introducing easier scaling within a graphical studio, Hub CORE makes designing and managing your orchestrations simpler. Available from January 2022, make sure to watch this space!
  • Web Services: Our new Web Services tool is currently in development, set for release later this year. With support for RESTful APIs with an OpenAPI definition, Web Services will dramatically simplify the use of third-party APIs – so keep an eye on the Community Portal.

Big questions

Each Community Summit 2021 session closed with an open Q&A forum, allowing those watching in the community to talk directly with event speakers, panellists, and fellow audience members. We’ve rounded up some of the most commonly asked questions (as well as our answers) about RPA, mobile-apps and eForms below:

What is low-code?

Low-code simply means a tool, application or software requires little coding during use. When working with our FX platform, you can create functions and calibrations through alternative, low-code methods – allowing you to use features such as a drag and drop interface and an easy-to-use studio design – as opposed to coding these features manually. This allows software to become more universally accessible despite varying technical abilities.

How do you prioritise processes for automation, to get them running 24/7?

When identifying processes for round-the-clock automation, it’s important to consider a number of different factors. As told live by Circle Health’s Dan Smith, “the key for us is understanding the co-dependencies on a lot of these tasks.” Identifying which processes must function flawlessly and without disruption during working hours - and which processes can be left to run out of hours, with no immediate urgency if errors should occur – is crucial for automation design.

Can mobile apps be integrated directly with back-office systems?

Mobile apps created with the MX platform can be integrated with existing infrastructure in a number of ways, including readily available APIs or technologies such as RPA – or a combination of several, depending on data capture requirements. This makes fully digital end-to-end systems for functions such as appointment bookings and record creation possible.

Is automation met with suspicion by departments, and how do you overcome it?

Asked within the RPA Project Showcase, Conwy Council’s Principle Technical Solutions Architect Will Valintine said, “You need to get teams to open up, because they might think that you’re auditing the process, and you kind of have to build their confidence to let you in on those little secrets”. Head of Operations at Circle Health, Dan Smith, shared RPA was met with suspicion with administrative teams for fear jobs were becoming fully automated. Open conversations around intention were established to resolve that.

How quickly can changes to eForms be made?

eForms within FX are highly adaptable in an easy to use low-code format, and any changes can be applied immediately. Answered live by Steve Baldwin, Digital Transformation and Innovation Manager, “It takes just a few minutes, we tend to update the eForms at night if we have added a new field or changed the form.”

Coming up

Missed this year’s Community Summit? Don’t worry – we have plenty more exciting events lined up for the rest of the year. Find our events calendar here – and keep up to date with the latest NDL and industry news over at our blog. Need some help? Don’t hesitate to contact a member of our team.