A great new benefit is on the way for members of ALDC, the Liberal Democrat body for councillors and campaigners – access to the CONNECT database’s casework system.
Starting early in 2012, all ALDC members will get access to CONNECT’s casework facilities for free (or rather, for no extra charge beyond their ALDC membership subscription). It is a logical extension of ALDC’s similar free provision of its MyCouncillor blogging system and will make a good system available to thousands of councillors.
One of the nice touches of the MyCouncillor system is that it makes it easy for people to share stories with the sites for fellow councillors, such as a piece about a council-wide issue. Similarly the casework system will provide a very secure way of sharing casework information where appropriate and legal, for example if a resident has raised a piece of casework with the whole ward team via a residents’ survey.
But most importantly, it should provide a simple, robust system that helps tackle on of the biggest administrative headaches for councillors – keeping on top of all the casework.
There has been a casework system, Casework Manager, available from EARS for several years. Although it has won a large market share amongst MPs, it has not made that much of an impact on the councillor market partly due to its cost and partly due to Casework Manager’s variable reputation: some Parliamentary staff rely on it day after day and are satisfied customers but many others are very critical and often only use it in the absence of a viable alternative. Whether or not MPs’ offices move over to CONNECT from Casework Manager will be important both for CONNECT’s overall take-up and also a strong sign to others as to how some of the most intensive users of systems view their relative merits.
For more about CONNECT see the interview I recently conducted with Mark Sullivan.