Argyll and Bute Council is one of 32 unitary authority councils in Scotland; whose administration covers the second largest area of any Scottish council. Dealing with a large amount of public money and funding important services on a daily basis; having a secure, robust and compliant payments processes in place was paramount.
The SHA-2 Deadline
But when Bacs announced plans to upgrade to SHA-2 certificates and withdraw support for older connection protocols by 13th June 2016, Argyll & Bute simply couldn’t afford to have any issues arise with the processing of council tax, benefits, supplier payments and payroll payments.
So they found themselves in the market for a solution that could provide secure connectivity to Bacs. The platform needed to be easy to use, efficient and contain the stringent approval workflows for checking and submitting multiple payment files.
“AccessPay’s designated user features are very useful for us as a council. The fact that there are different levels; some users can have access to all the file types, while other users only have access to one file type, fits well with the way we work at Argyll and Bute”
Because the project was of such a high priority for Argyll & Bute Council to guarantee operational contingency before Bacs’ SHA-2 deadline; a short, hassle-free implementation process was essential. This is because the implications of any hiccups or downtime occurring could have resulted in thousands of people having their lives affected.
Set-up required secure Bacs connectivity for 12 users, linking to 11 different Service User Numbers, with the ability to process 14 different file types at any one time, with automated retrieval of AUDDIS for Direct Debit Collections. This was all delivered in a matter of weeks.
“An absolute standout feature of AccessPay is the people. Everyone that I have dealt with from AccessPay is very knowledgeable and informed…the quality and speed of response is beyond any company that I deal with.”
We generally get an answer to a support query within the hour, sometimes within ten minutes! And it’s not an automated response, it’s an actual human who is very willing to help.” Ken Wong, Revenues System Administrator, Argyll & Bute
Aside from gaining speed-to-value, the platform itself needed to bring significant efficiencies to the team at Argyll & Bute.
AccessPay’s banking connectivity platform rewarded their staff with more time to focus working hours on tasks beyond processing and working with payment files – this enabled staff to claw back hours of valuable time with an automated process that’s not only quicker, but far more secure.
Being a public sector organisation, compliance with various laws and regulations was also a major focus for the team. Where they would have historically manually processed data for auditing purposes; spending days documenting months and months of details from old files, AccessPay’s automated paper-trail meant that all the necessary historical information could be downloaded in a matter of minutes instead.
“The system itself is fast and straightforward. The fact that AccessPay has an audit trail, telling you exactly what was transmitted and when, and for how much, has proved very useful. Normally it would take us quite a while to dig out the files and start that process, so that has saved us a lot of time.”
Another key security benefit for Argyll & Bute was the ability to define multiple stages of authorisation via the platform itself, with clear segregation of duties so that senior staff could stay in control of who could see what and when; which was particularly useful for dealing with sensitive information like benefits & payroll.
This level of control not only gave staff peace of mind that their processes were robust, but also brought about significant time savings, as staff no longer spent a long time seeking out the files they needed to check or approve.