We looked at how improving the casework process could free up time for more constituency and Parliamentary work.
We are here to help, no matter the issue, no matter the constituent.
Casework is time consuming and very important work for MPs and their teams. Caseworkers are often the last person a constituent turns to when an issue they face cannot be resolved.
For politicians, casework helps them to understand the challenges faced by their constituents and understand their constituency better.
We found in our first few weeks that the liaison required to resolve casework issues meant it limited the capacity of MPs to reach more constituents and be as proactive as they would like.
Each digital mentor ran a workshop with office staff to discover where processes could be improved using digital tools and approaches. We identified four ways to improve casework:
1. Use an effective digital system for managing casework
Customer relationship management (CRM) software can be used to create and manage digital correspondence. It can be used to collaborate on and delegate the production of documents, emails and letters. Moving the casework process from paper to digital is one of the biggest time savers an MP’s office can make. A couple of CRM systems include Caseworker.mp and eCasework.
2. Use tagging for correspondence
Once a CRM is set up, teams should set up tags for correspondence. This helps to organise casework into categories and locations, and ensure that cases do not get lost. Tags can be analysed to help organise local campaigns as well as influence local decision makers.
Some teams had over 3,000 tags in their CRM system, which made it difficult to organise or manage casework. We reduced the number of tags by prioritising the most important issues and merging similar topics. We created a tagging framework, suggesting that each piece of correspondence has four tags (Category/issue, Urgency, Sensitivity, Transferability). See our tagging system template (Excel document).
3. Have a follow-up process with third parties
Many cases require correspondence with third parties, such as government departments, ministers, and local authorities. There is often a three-week grace period for a reply and if no response is received, caseworkers have to remember to chase them up. We worked with tools such as Outlook Tasks and Evernote to integrate reminders into the workflow.
4. Set aside time to review casework
The nature of a caseworker’s job is highly reactionary. It is, therefore, easy to get snowed under without realising it. We think it would help to each week set aside 30 minutes for office managers and caseworker teams to discuss what has been coming through the office and what actions need to be taken. This, in turn, will give office managers a full understanding of constituents’ issues, which can be relayed to the MP.