Case Study – High Halstow Parish Council

Updated: Dec 7, 2020

MailXmaster has worked with High Halstow Parish Council to make the way they use email far more efficient. Read the article below to find out how we did it.

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The Problem...

At the elections back in May 2019 three new first-time councillors were elected to High Halstow Parish Council. At almost the same time the Parish Clerk resigned. The Parish Clerk was custodian of the Parish Laptop which at the time was the sole repository of the Council’s electronic data. During the period whilst a new clerk was being recruited all historical electronic information was inaccessible to much of the council. This severely hampered the Council’s ability to make day to day decisions efficiently and made it difficult to integrate the new Councillors. It was clear that some form of electronic archive was needed to ensure continuity of information access.

Another thing to be considered was that over 80% of communication between High Halstow Parish Councillors takes place by email - if anything that percentage has gotten higher still during the COVID-19 crisis. Within the Council structure there are also several sub-committees specifically responsible for different aspects of Council business. Historically, every councillor has been copied on every email regardless of whether it relates to a sub-committee they are part of. Whilst this ensures every councillor has access to the same information it means that a significant number of unnecessary emails are sent and received. With that in mind a system that could both share and archive emails and other electronic documents seemed the ideal solution.

When selecting a solution, the Council had to be mindful that there is no common IT infrastructure covering Parish Councillors. A wide variety of different hardware and operating systems was in use, so the chosen solution needed to be compatible with a wide variety of devices.

The Solution...

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MailXmaster was first proposed and demonstrated as a potential solution in December 2019. Features wise MailXmaster fully meets the Parish Council’s requirements whilst the fact that there is no software to download or install and it works with all email programs and web browsers made it ideal from a compatibility point of view. Following the demonstration, the council decided to trial the system whilst alternative solutions were investigated for due diligence. The trial began in February 2020 and the system was formally adopted in May.

In the four months it has been in use over 1200 emails and 100 documents have been filed in the High Halstow system. All emails and documents are filed against specific sub-committees and topics such as planning & finance. The system allows the Council’s various sub-committees to communicate independently of the main committee whilst still maintaining full transparency as all Councillors receive a weekly report containing links to all the emails that were logged in the past week. Regardless of whether they were copied on the original, councillors can click on the email title and read its contents and view any attachments.

Email chains and documents are now easy to find making it easy to check for precedents when situations or problems arise. Over time the council will be able to convert historical, paper documents into an electronic format and upload them into the MailXmaster system making them more widely accessible and removing the need for paper archiving.

By creating a permanent database of all emails it will be possible to give future Councillors instant access to historical emails helping them to quickly become acquainted with the discussions and decisions of their predecessors, thus solving the original problem.

MailXmaster is an invaluable tool in helping us manage our digital communications. Inevitably in today's world most of our communication with members, the clerk, external agencies and the general public is conducted via email. In the past we’ve struggled to collate all this information for future reference; we tried Dropbox and other cloud storage facilities, but none were able to consolidate email and file storage. MailXmaster allows us to keep all emails and electronic files in one place and index them by every subject the Parish Council deals with. Weekly reports of all new emails and files ensure that every councillor always has the information they need at their fingertips.

George Crozer, Chairman - High Halstow Parish Council

If you think your organisation could benefit from overhauling the way you use email contact us to find out how MailXmaster can help.

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