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Someone once asked me what I love about FME. The answer is quite simple, it offers the industry’s best format support, allowing you to solve many problems in a single step and with a single tool. Indeed, if the data exists, then FME, combined with skill and imagination, will enable you to do something amazing with it!

Take for example North Ayrshire Council’s unprecedented use of FME in managing non-geographic data which demonstrates an ingenious and creative approach to problem-solving, and proves the value of software investment by expanding its use to organisation-wide applications.

“Having used FME for spatial data integration and a mobile working platform for the Streetscene open space maintenance service; a programme of work to protect and enhance the built and green environment, we recognised that its automation capabilities could be transferred to manage non-spatial information too,” Dyllan North, Senior Technology Officer in the GIS and Data Analytics team told me when we caught up recently.

“North Ayrshire Council holds a huge amount of data, particularly in its HR system. Whether relating to new starters, leavers or those moving jobs, each employee’s journey impacts on its operations – from the allocation of equipment and licences, to verifying contracts, issuing security access and updating the staff directory.”  

“With different departments responsible for providing updates, the information was not as joined-up, consistent or accessible as it could be. It was clear there was an opportunity to centralise and enrich the existing datasets to deliver more value.”  

Automation has been the subject of discussion within the HR sector for several years. In 2019, the majority of HR leaders responding to a Kronos Incorporated* poll at the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition said they believed they could save up to a day and a half per week through automation of administrative tasks, and 52 percent cited increasing automation as the one thing they would like to change about their HR technology if given the choice. 

In North Ayrshire, automating back-office data processes with FME has not only increased operational efficiency, but the hands-off approach has also reduced the opportunity for discrepancies and misunderstandings to promote trust and confidence in Council data. 

Centralising and enriching datasets to deliver more value

Systems are more effectively linked without the need for complex code and instead actions on the data are triggered by ‘events’, such as a new member of staff joining the Council, a promotion or someone leaving. IT resource requests for a new starter, revoking licences and security passes for leavers, ensuring staff moving within the Council have access to the data and applications they need, and more general updates such as new locations and job titles, are just some of the capabilities of the solution. 

Changes are automatic and tracked, providing confidence in accuracy and consistency of Council data. Risk is reduced by ensuring security and IT access is issued only to current employees and there is less paperwork as a result of the automated streamlined processes. 

The solution enriches and adds value to information used by Council staff through a visual, easy to use, easy to share interface and a centralised database linked to applications, such as Microsoft Office 365 and the CRM system. For example, joining up the HR system with the staff directory has allowed photos and office locations, in addition to full names, positions and departments, to be accessed in one place, an aid to security and engagement. This enables greater insight into the Council’s data holdings to drive improvements in services whilst also delivering cost savings through better licence management.

1Spatial provided the FME licences and private training to support the Council in the initial stages of the project and helped them quickly realise the benefits. We also offer on-going technical support when needed and are excited to see where North Ayrshire’s FME journey takes it next. One thing is certain, its reputation as an FME trailblazer is providing inspiration across Scotland and beyond.

Read the full case study, Thinking outside the spatial box in Scotland: North Ayrshire’s innovative approach to FME puts Council ahead of the game.

Written by David Eagle, FME Division Manager, 1Spatial UK & Ireland 

You can find out more about David here