Best practice: Continuing professional developmentOn 4 Sep 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. PersonnelToday’s monthly series reveals how managers deal with business problems and enhanceperformance. In this issue, Brendan O’Keefe, staff relations manager atRegisters of Scotland, explains how implementing an IT strategy has thepotential to open new doors for business – and for employeesRegistersof Scotland (RoS) is the executive agency responsible for framing andmaintaining records and registers relating to property and other legalproceedings in Scotland. It currently employs about 1,400 staff. With manyprocesses largely unchanged since the turn of the 20th century, the creationand maintenance of records had remained a manual job. The checking of deeds,archiving of information and search of records has traditionally involvedplenty of book work and cutting out and glueing extracts into bound volumes.The Land Registration(Scotland) Act 1979 heralded the introduction of the Land Register,fundamentally altering the process of property registration. Since then, RoShas been undergoing significant change and development, including the introductionof a complete IT infrastructure to replace the old- fashioned manual systems. The transformation ofbusiness in this way can be an unsettling time for employees. With atraditionally low turnover of loyal staff, RoS was keen to introduce the ITinfrastructure without alienating those with few or no IT skills. There werealso fears among employees that the automation of previously labour-intensivetasks might result in job losses.RoS needed to find away to address these issues without restricting the implementation of the ITinfrastructure. Radical change was necessary, but employee confidence andloyalty had to be maintained.How we implemented thechangeWith technology nowsuch a key driver for business and the economy, it is easy to forget that thereare companies that still rely on a more manual, methodical approach. It is easyto assume that most of the UK’s workforce is computer literate, or at leastunderstands the benefits such technology can bring. However, businesses thatrely on the manual, accurate and careful archiving of records also rely onmeticulous employees. The assumption that a computer can more effectivelyundertake their detailed work is not only undermining, but also not always true.The phased nature ofthe introduction of the new Land Register to the whole of Scotland led to RoSembarking on a plan to transform business over a reasonably lengthy period.This enabled RoS to ensure that employees could benefit from a full trainingprogramme, as well as roll out the technology in a controlled environment. There had to be alevel of understanding for those employees that would find the transition fromglue to “cut and paste” a difficult and intimidating one. Even so,with one of the largest scanning operations ever to be undertaken, thetransformation from dusty files to high-speed computers required the hardestwork of all. At RoS, the transformation benefited from the input of employeeexperience in finding the best ways to input and utilise records.One of the key driversfor the development programme was formulating new ways to align the agency withcustomers’ needs. RoS could see the benefits that the new technology couldprovide in terms of better communication, not just internally but with customers,new clients and other land registry organisations. In implementing the change,there was a focus on finding ways to improve the service rather than simplybring it up to date.This focus on theimprovement of service and communication meant that the training anddevelopment of employees involved more than just learning a few computerskills. The technology could open the door for employees to gain confidence andto develop skills in related areas such as customer management and projectwork. This had the potential to develop employees who excelled in one key areaof work but had little experience of other job opportunities. Far from makingemployees feel redundant in this new high-tech environment, the idea was toopen new doors, not close them.Positive outcomes forthe businessWorries abouttechnology replacing individuals have been proved to be unfounded. Theintroduction of the Land Register has meant that the registration process isinitially more time-consuming, with efficiencies realised in all subsequentproperty transactions. With the introductionof computers and the development of new services, there is still plenty of workto be done and, although a redundancy plan was formulated in advance of theprocess, this has not been needed.The technology hasopened doors for employees. Although there are still routine tasks to be done,there is greater flexibility and potential for job variety. The customerservice side of the business has grown dramatically. New customer servicecentres have opened in Glasgow and Edinburgh and RoS is at the forefront ofinnovation in providing comprehensive on-line public access.As well as providinggreater public access, internal communication has improved with theintroduction of e-mail and a company intranet. Now considered one ofthe leaders in its field, RoS is in regular contact with similar agenciesworldwide, improving not just the reputation of the agency but helping staff tobe more outward-looking and to gain confidence in the new systems. The transformation ofRoS is well on the way to completion. The ongoing development programme foremployees will ensure that the IT infrastructure continues to createopportunities and drive the business forward.Although the workingenvironment has changed at RoS, employees know that they are still the mostimportant asset to the organisation. The computers are doing a good job at RoS,but without the support of staff, Registers of Scotland could not have becomethe respected agency it is today.Top Tips: EstablishingIT without fears and tears–Involve people – try to understand the fears of employees and address thembefore the technology arrives.– Investment incomprehensive training, delivered at the right time, is essential.– Ensure that one ofthe benefits of new technology is the improvement of the working environment.– IT is not an obviousdomain for HR involvement, but its role in gaining employee confidence andencouraging development cannot be underestimated.ContactsRegistersof Scotland is hosting a Best Practice Club case study day on 27 September,where participants can learn more about the impact of IT on company culture. For details, call TheBest Practice Club on 0800 435399, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.bpclub.com Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.