NEWS: Ashford Borough Council swaps e-consultation providers

8th April 2011
e-Consultation INOVEM Inclusionware™ displaces software previously used to support Ashford Borough Council's planning policy consultations, as it is assessed to be more functional, more affordable and easier to use

London, UK, April 8th, 2011 - INOVEM, the leading UK developer of Internet technologies for online collaboration and consultation, has been chosen as Ashford Borough Council's (ABC) new supplier of e-Consultation software. The Council's previous 3-year contract was coming to an end and they used the opportunity to re-evaluate the market, looking for other, more cost-effective options. With a requirement to expand the e-Consultation service for use by all Council departments to help increase citizen participation and improve staff productivity, it was important to find a system that was reliable, intuitive and good value for money.

Brigid Burnham, ABC's Head of Communications & Marketing led the evaluation team, supported by Danielle Dunn, Planning Policy Officer, who had been a user of the previous software. When asked why the team selected INOVEM, Brigid explained "It seemed the best option from the products available, as INOVEM provide the complete package that covers our corporate need. For example, we were specifically looking for a product that could carry out general consultations as well as consultations on documents, and one that could also provide us with an e-Petition facility."


Making comparisons with the software previously used, Danielle commented "I am really pleased with INOVEM's Chameleon service which ensures all their web applications mirror the look and feel of the Council's corporate website. We often had customers wonder if they were actually consulting on ABC documents, as the previous consultation portal looked and felt so different to our corporate website."

"The reporting functions of INOVEM's software will save us a lot of time and effort at the end of each consultation. Instead of having to export data to HTML pages or spreadsheets, the new software has the capability to produce a finished report in PDF format, which is easier to manage, circulate and use in Public Examinations."

Making further comparisons Danielle added, "The new software itself is pretty intuitive. It is much easier to work out how to do something without having to refer to help pages and the support system."

John Glover, INOVEM's Sales & Marketing Director, said "We were obviously delighted that Ashford Borough Council selected INOVEM. With the dynamic nature of the Internet software market a lot has changed since Ashford made their original choice. Having invested significantly in software development and our growing reputation for fast, reliable and well supported software, we are well positioned to help councils upgrade to next-generation software."


In order to switch suppliers, the Council required a smooth transition. Danielle remarked, "The data migration was my biggest concern of all when we transferred to INOVEM from our previous provider. We had 14 existing consultation documents on our legacy system and there were an average of 275 comments against each consultation. I didn't want to lose all of this valuable data and the existing consultees (1,800) that had spent time registering." Danielle continued, "However, I needn't have worried as we were assigned an INOVEM consultant who led us through the process and despite a few issues from our end, all the data went across smoothly and stress free."

Reflecting on the implementation, Danielle stated "The intensive two-day training session was both informative and hands-on. I feel confident in using the software for any future consultations that we may have. Our expectation is that the INOVEM software will save us valuable time and make it easier for our stakeholders and local communities to get involved."

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"We often had customers wonder if they were actually consulting on Ashford Borough Council's documents, as the previous consultation portal looked and felt so different to our corporate website."

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