Digital and data

Quick form building

Quick form building

Rapid response. 

By building complex Mendix modules, such as Citizen ID and Contact Management and combining those with Drupal forms, we have been able to create complex solutions which are quick to build. A simple form can be created within hours and a more complex form can be completed within a day. 

Key project details

  • £30k to build a reusable end-to-end solution
  • Saving of £3m p.a. compared with a procured system
  • Cheaper and more flexible than a procured solution

Constant changes

With a rapidly changing environment, we need to be able to respond quickly. 

The COVID crisis highlighted the need to respond with digital solutions quickly. With most staff, services and transactions being rapidly moved out of office buildings, it was essential that we could quickly shift transactions online in order to support staff and the community. One of the key challenges with any digital solution is the need to define requirements before development starts. This is often a time-consuming process involving multiple stakeholders. However, with the immediacy of COVID, it wasn't possible to discuss requirements at any length or sit in face-to-face workshops to map out user journeys. We needed to create quick solutions and put built forms in front of services to review and amend. 

The frontend form is only half of the journey. Once a form is submitted, the data captured in the form has to go somewhere. With Achieve forms, the data is submitted to services as an email. This is a short-term fix which causes a long-term problem. Data contained within emails is not structured or secure. There is nothing to stop an emailing being forwarded to anyone in the world. And there is no way to easily process case work. In the vast majority of form submissions, the data captured in the body of an email, is copy / pasted manually by staff into either an excel spreadsheet or into a service system. This is time-consuming and risks manual errors. 

It is papering over the cracks without solving the underlying problem. 

building blocks

Build well and recycle

Reusing pre-built modules. 

By reusing complex modules such as the Citizen ID form to call the Customer Index, as well as Contact Management to capture the form data, we have been able to easily 'bolt-in' Drupal forms for the unique elements of a service transaction. Drupal forms are a quick form-building tool which enable agile development. We are able to take a vague set of requirements and create a form within hours. This can be reviewed by services and amended by the Digital and Data team within the same day. 

However, we had an onward challenge of how to bespoke the staff view within Contact Management, such that each form type could be displayed in the best way for staff to process each case. For the initial forms that we integrated in Contact Management, we had to spend valuable development resource to layout the Contact Management pages. This was taking approximately 3-4 days per form. 

Alongside the immediate COVID response, we have continued the development of the YAML parser which is an authoring environment within Contact Management. This solution is now in the live Contact Management application and means that the time spent to integrate a form is now greatly reduced. Instead of spending days to bespoke each page. It is now possible to integrate and bespoke the input from a form in Contact Management within minutes.  





Benefiting the customer

Being able to respond quickly to changing demands is essential for any organisation. 

The significant improvement in speed to develop digital solutions means that forms can be created and released within days. And if necessary, changed quickly in response to a shift in requirements. 

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