Over the last 15 years, GHG has grown from three staff to around 75, many of whom now work remotely. All members of the team need rapid, efficient access to case files and related correspondence so they can work to maximum efficiency.
In the early days, a basic system based around Excel spreadsheets did the job of recording work as it came in and out of the business but, as the company expanded, this rudimentary system soon reached its limits.
As more staff found themselves needing access to the same files, often from different locations, GHG needed a way of providing easier, centralised access. At the same time, as the business began to handle more clients, it was becoming harder to keep track of the latest client correspondence. The company needed a way of storing all of this information together with the case files, client contact information, and financial data relating to each case.
In addition, there was a growing need for management information, so that GHG could track the progress of cases, and produce reports for clients.
A completely paperless system which allows field agents to access data “offline”, make changes to the data, add photos and voice recordings, and synchronise it to the database.
While GHG recognised there were off-the-shelf software packages available that would enable the business to record its client documentation in a central repository, the firm turned to its trusted hardware and software provider, DCSL GuideSmiths, which was already providing all of the company’s hardware and software.
“We needed a good database,” recalls John Hall, the firm’s operations director and subsidence manager. “I looked at a couple of off-the-shelf systems but preferred this route – I’ve seen packaged solutions go wrong in other companies I’ve worked for. I knew what I wanted and we already knew and trusted DCSL GuideSmiths, so it seemed the right fit for us to have something tailored to our exact needs.”
GHG named the resulting software Horizon, after its office building. It has been using the system for two years now.
“DCSL GuideSmiths has developed a repository to record all of the information relating to individual parcels of work,” Hall explains. “This means we have everything we need on individual claims in one place, in a format that is easily searchable. So, if a customer calls, I can bring up her details while I’m talking to her, and see what our last contact was. I can also record updated information straight into the system, during or after the call.”
Content can also be merged into Word documents and emails, improving the speed and accuracy with which client correspondence is generated. All incoming client correspondence is scanned straight into the system too, allowing everything to be stored together.
Most recently, GHG has begun using Horizon to create management reports, both for internal use, and for the benefit of client insurers who may want to monitor the profile and frequency of claims over a given period.
While Hall is unable to put an exact value on the impact the Horizon system has had on the firm, he notes that GHG as a business wouldn’t have been able to grow much larger without it.
“It was a ‘must-have’ rather than a luxury,” he says. “The system started out as an operational tool, so we could scale the business, as our manual processes had become too cumbersome. But, by the same token, we also wanted to ‘keep up’ and appear modern.“
“It has been a real bonus to see how much the system impresses our clients at meetings. It gives them a real comfort factor, adding value to the service we offer them. It offers us a competitive edge. We’re told the software is as good a system as any out there on the market,” he adds.
“We’re lucky that, as a relatively young player in our market, we weren’t held back by complex, out-of-date legacy systems. This meant we could get the best out of the software we had built for us, including management information and workflow.
One thing we really like about DCSL GuideSmiths is that they are very proactive and on top of the technology. They know what’s going on out there and can recommend new features that will help our business.”
Most importantly, Horizon enables GHG to be slicker and more efficient in its case-handling, enabling the business to take on more work. Staff can work remotely, too, safe in the knowledge that they can access the same information wherever they are.
In due course, Hall hopes to enable the input of data via handheld devices – for example when surveyors and loss-adjusters visit sites. “We want to invest in hardware which maximises this rich data system that we now have,” he says. “This would be very useful, for example, for monitoring subsidence cracks in people’s houses, avoiding the need for additional visits. There are definitely additional efficiencies to be had.”
Client self-service is also high on the agenda, reducing the potential administrative burden on GHG when client insurers request management reports, or claimants seek an update on the status of their cases. “Our clients are very interested in gaining access to these systems themselves, to pull off the information they want,” Hall concludes. “For the client, it means faster access to what they need, whenever they want it. For GHG, it means fewer reports to produce, and less time on the phone fielding routine enquiries.”