The Scottish Borders Council is tasked with delivering key services to a population spread across an extensive area. Each year the Council delivers a project to help householders improve the warmth of their homes, reduce their energy bills and alleviate fuel poverty in the region.

For the past six years the Scottish Borders Council has partnered with Changeworks to successfully deliver these projects. During 2012–2013 Changeworks researched and delivered a project to install free loft and cavity wall insulation for households throughout the area.

Efficient project management

Changeworks uses its broad range of expertise and skills throughout the entire life of a project. According to Nicola McLeod, Changeworks Programme Manager, “With every project we manage for the Scottish Borders Council, we are involved in the process from the outset: selecting the most suitable project, making sure all available funding is accessed, sourcing installers, managing the relationships between the householders and the installers, and ensuring all aspects of the project run smoothly through to completion.”

The project to install free loft and cavity wall insulation for households in the Scottish Borders involved a large volume of work. For the Council, having a partner like Changeworks to manage the project from end-to-end has been invaluable.

“We simply don’t have the resources to manage projects of this scale in-house. We would need to recruit a full project management team, but even that process would require significant time. Not to mention the fact that anyone we recruit would need to be able to hit the ground running and have existing skills and expertise in that particular area,” explains Donna Bogdanovic, Senior Housing Strategy Officer with the Scottish Borders Council.

“For us, Changeworks is that expert team. With years of experience and knowledge of the sector, not forgetting the invaluable contacts and resources they have, means projects are skilfully managed from beginning to end.”

Expertise and knowledge

According to Donna, one of Changeworks’ key strengths is in scoping out suitable projects for the Council to deliver on. “Because of Changeworks’ knowledge of the sector, and in particular their knowledge of the funding and grants that are available, they are expertly placed to identify the best projects for us to deliver to our customers. They are on the ball when it comes to knowing how best to spend any funding we receive. Their help in this area saves us considerable time and effort in filtering out projects and also in accessing the necessary funding for the projects.”

Effective problem solving

Scottish Borders Council knows it can count on Changeworks to make sure that any issue that may arise is dealt with efficiently, says Donna. “Halfway through the project some issues arose with the existing installer. We were faced with the dilemma: would we need to halt the project mid-way through? Luckily for us Changeworks stepped in and provided us with much-needed advice and practical help to source a new installer. Because of their extensive knowledge and contacts, they were able to find a replacement who was able to jump right in and take over the delivery of the project. Changeworks was invaluable and delivered a solution to what could have been a very big problem.”

As an independent third party, Changeworks also managed the quality assurance of the insulation installs for the project. They assessed and reviewed the insulation process, ensuring it ran smoothly and all targets were met along the way. The team also oversaw any problems or issues and worked with the installers to respond quickly to any customer issues.

“At the end of the day, the Council is responsible for the successful delivery of the project, so it’s vital that we have peace of mind knowing that Changeworks is keeping a watchful eye on all aspects of the project delivery and ensuring our customers are happy,” says Donna.

Excellent communications

Communication is vital to the success of projects like this one which involve several external parties, including installers and householders. For Scottish Borders Council, keeping track of the project is a time consuming task they simply don’t have the resources for. But on the other hand, Donna says it is essential that they are aware of the progress of the project and have a hand in any key decisions that need to be made.

“Communications throughout the life of the project were excellent. Changeworks organised regular meetings to make sure all parties were kept up to date on progress. Of course, if there were any issues we were informed immediately and Changeworks let us know what steps they were taking to resolve any problems. In outsourcing this project to Changeworks we ensured the project progressed quickly and efficiently.”

“Thanks to their expert help and management of the project we exceeded our 2012–13 target for installing energy efficiency measures. We’ve made a difference to the lives of many Borders residents through warmer homes and lower heating and electricity bills. We will continue to work with Changeworks in delivering key projects to the communities in our region – they are the ideal partner for the Scottish Borders Council,” concludes Donna.

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