21 Mar 2017

The Business Case for an independent IASS web site

The Business Case for an independent IASS web site

Often we meet IAS Services who are excited by the work we’ve done for the IASS teams in Camden and Westminster and are keen to talk to their local authority about creating their own information and advice web site. Early on, the conversation often turns to funding, and in more cases than not the IASS are asked to provide a business plan to support their application for a development budget.

With that in mind, we’ve listed some of the key points that IASS might find useful when considering a business case for their own independent web site or App.

1. Helping meet statutory duties.
IAS Services have a duty to provide information, advice and guidance. A well-designed, accessible web site can help meet this duty on a 24/7/365 basis and can help families, young people and parents access information at times that are good for them and around their busy lives. 

Providing information digitally also removes any restrictions that might be encountered through staff availability, ability for people to get to specific venues or opening hours.

2. Highlights the impartiality of your IAS Service.
IAS Services are expected to be at arms-length from a local authority and provide impartial advice and guidance. 

An independent web site helps enforce this impartiality and builds trust and confidence with parents, carers and families. This could be achieved through a standalone brand, or name, or ‘look and feel’ that doesn’t rely on corporate or local authority guidelines.

Beyond this, a web site like this also provides an opportunity for IASS to fundamentally engage with families in a manner and tone that is ’their own’. 

3. Familiar and useful features.
As well as a platform of advice and guidance, a web site can also support IAS and their duties through the implementation of specific features such as:

- calendars showing local events and activities, helping to reduce social isolation. 
- searchable directories of services and signposting to sources of additional help and support.
- feedback mechanisms, allowing IASS to collate and review important service user feedback.

Digital tools can also be used ‘internally’ within IAS teams to support consultations, meetings and phone helplines - as well as allowing best practice and information to be shared.

4. Future Proofing.
The range of devices being used to view digital content is ever changing and evolving. 

A well-built, responsive web site that is already optimised to laptops, desktops, mobile smartphones and tablets means that independent of what screen size is being used, the web site is presented appropriately and the best user experience is offered. 

5. Supporting digital transformation.
Local authorities are starting to transform their services, and citizens are now familiar with accessing services online, such as council tax payment, planning applications and checking school holiday dates.

Many incoming tasks and enquiries can now be ‘self served’ without impact on staff, allowing them to get on with other work and reducing administration overhead.

Making SEND information and advice available digitally fits in with the way that families are living their lives today and supplements the personal approach of IAS Services.

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