We were looking for a cloud-based solution but also a partner who understood our needs as a unitary authority, and Access PaySuite was the perfect fit. The new system will provide a single seamless payment system with a wide range of secure payment options for our residents.
Clare Bradshaw, Head of Finance Operations at Buckinghamshire Council
When Buckinghamshire County Council, along with Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks, and Wycombe District Councils, joined forces to form a unified unitary council, they sought a partner to facilitate a successful transition and deliver a versatile, multi-channel payment solution for their 500,000+ residents, businesses, and staff. Access PaySuite secured the contract and became the chosen payment service provider to support the restructure and prioritise business continuity, aiming to offer a unified income management and payment service for the complex two-tier local government system.
The consolidation of five individual authorities into a single unitary council presented unique challenges. The council operated multiple software systems to manage income, including separate legacy cash and income systems, as well as various line of business applications with different integration requirements. The initial proposal of a "big bang" approach for IT infrastructure faced limitations due to the disparate systems, ongoing contracts, and tight timelines.
The Council emphasized the need for a solution that not only streamlined internal processes but also provided residents and businesses with an effortless and seamless payment experience for services like council tax, business rates, and planning fees.
Access PaySuite assembled a dedicated project team, led by a single point of contact, to support Buckinghamshire County Council throughout the unitary project. The team consisted of specialists from Access PaySuite’s Unitary & Shared Services Team who posses extensive experience in unitary projects and a deep understanding of local authorities. Crucially, they were also well-versed in managing integrations with various ERP solutions such as Dynamics 365, Oracle, ABS, and Tech One.
To streamline processes, Access PaySuite replaced legacy systems with a unified, cloud-based platform. The solution offered a range of payment options for e-commerce, contact centers, auto-telephone payments, and Post Office payments. Recognising the need to accommodate the existing systems, the solution was designed to scale and adapt to future changes, ensuring long-term viability for the Council.
During testing, the involvement of district councils proved invaluable as they possessed hands-on experience with the complex systems environment. This facilitated smooth implementation and enabled district councils to take ownership, tailoring reports and interfaces to ensure a seamless switch-over for residents.
Despite the challenges, the project was successfully implemented within the given timelines and continues to cater to the needs of the new unitary council. The new payment system offers easy payment options through various channels, meeting compliance and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) requirements.
The new income management solution allows council employees to seamlessly reconcile income and simplifies reconciliation between payment transactions and banking entries. It provides comprehensive reporting and offers data reformatting for easy integration with back-office systems.
Significantly, Access PaySuite’s cloud solution supports secure home and remote working, enabling employees to accept payments from customers regardless of their location, aligning with the increasing hybrid workforce trend.
Apart from benefiting staff and residents, the Council enjoys cost efficiencies and dedicated support advantages that come with having a single provider.
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