cemetery management software

Unlock Your Council's Potential with PlotBox

Discover how PlotBox has been helping Local Councils to transform their bereavement services operations and align their digital strategies.

| Read time: 10 mins

Increasingly, UK local authorities are introducing digital strategies to meet evolving needs and expectations, maximising the benefits of technology in serving their local communities - something we discuss in detail here.

In order to align themselves with these strategies, bereavement services within those council areas have been digitally transforming their operations, investing in new, much improved back office systems that have introduced increased a range of benefits, including: increased efficiencies, more streamlined processes, enhanced collaboration and more assured compliance.

Here's a snapshot of the growing number of local authorities PlotBox has been helping to make that a reality.

 

“The massive one for me personally, being a cemetery-based person, was the mapping - it’s been amazing.”

- Bereavement Services Manager, Sheena Ratcliffe

 

Derby City Council, a local authority based in the East Midlands operates six cemeteries and one crematorium, with responsibility for the maintenance of seventeen closed churchyards throughout the city.

For Derby, PlotBox’s mapping functionality was one of the aspects of the solution that really sold it to them.

“Previously we were using excel, paper-based maps and a bit of a mixture from the different cemeteries.” said Sheena.

This created a disconnect between the maps and the data held, over-complicating common tasks such as assisting families with locating gravesites.

“We would have asked if they knew the grave number; if not, [ask] who's buried [there], then research through the software system….once we'd found that, we would then go on to the appropriate excel map, highlight it, send it out to the person, or arrange to meet them.”.

With various maps that didn’t match up correctly this became a challenge.

As Sheena acknowledges, the task of administering requests could be a role in itself - finding graves, placing markers etc., and ultimately it was this functionality that made PlotBox such an attractive proposition for the council.

Read the full story.



“The worst thing I can do is to place someone in the wrong plot. Having real time data on exactly what’s available where…makes something like that very difficult to do.”

- Senior Cemeteries Officer, Frank Swift

 

East Hampshire District Council serves a local population of over 120,000 and operates five cemeteries - the oldest of which was opened over a century-and-a-half ago.

For the bereavement services team, implementing PlotBox was an a way of aligning with the council's broader objectives:

“We aim to go paperless, and PlotBox’s digital solution will be a great help towards that goal - for example, creating work orders for our grave diggers, which is important.” said Frank

“I’m also starting to learn more about how it will help me to manage our memorials, so that will also become beneficial as we move forward.”

Frank continued,

“The previous system included a book of maps for each of the cemeteries. Now we have the GIS mapping [with the digital maps] on the system - reconciling those with the paper maps will enable me to move away from the books altogether.

PlotBox’s drone mapping will also continue to be useful for optimising our cemetery space.

That’s gone well and didn’t cost a great deal to get right.”

Read the full story.

 

Antrim and Newtownabbey 1-1

 

“We wanted a system that would provide us with a consistency of service. We wanted a system that was user-friendly, straightforward to use and wasn't overcomplicated. And PlotBox delivers that.”

- Crematorium Manager, Jim Parker

 

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council operates 16 cemeteries, the operation of which is supported by PlotBox’s cemetery management system. In June of 2023, they opened a brand new state-of-the-art crematory - only the second in Northern Ireland.

For the council, the overarching focus was to deliver a dignified and high quality cremation service, built around the needs of the end users - something that PlotBox has facilitated, 

Jim told us what appealed to him about PlotBox,

“One was that it would complement the administration processes across our bereavement services. Another is that it's cloud-based, so it tied in with the council's initiatives of moving away from paper records onto cloud-based systems, enhancing our business continuity arrangements - that in itself made it logical.”

Jim continued,

“For us, we didn't have existing policies or established processes, so in real terms, it was looking at what PlotBox could bring to the table for us from an administration point of view.

For instance, the scheduling feature - that helps us to establish efficiencies around our cremation processes.

Those will [in turn] factor into our operating procedures for administration, as we move away from paper-based processes and develop our own.

And PlotBox is key to that, because of the ease of access to our documents through the ability to store them online.

Read the full story.

 

“Covid was the biggest driver behind the change. When we were sent home without remote access to our records, we knew we needed to get access to anything that wasn't digitised.”

- Bereavement Services Manager, Richard Blake

 

Located in North Wales, Flintshire County Council operates 15 cemeteries, providing a number of burial and memorialisation options, including a natural burial site at Kelsterton Cemetery - established in response to the growing demand for more natural and organic funerals.

Bearing in mind the Authority’s digital strategy. Flintshire County Council was looking to move the majority of their IT infrastructure over to the cloud, so we wanted a solution that would keep them aligned with where they were heading.

As Richard said,

“We went through our procurement processes to test the market. We issued a notice of interest, had a few companies reply, and found that PlotBox was the most comprehensive - you could offer everything that we wanted.

Probably the biggest driver, other than having everything in one place, was the digital mapping element. 

We were working off old paper plans, which were not in great condition - so getting an up to date digital mapping system was key to us in moving forward.”

Read the full story.

 

Rushcliffe 1

 

“The thing with PlotBox, and this is why I've never really worried too much, is that straight from booking the very first cremation on the phone, it’s a simple system to use."

- Crematorium Manager, Rhonda Churchill

 

Operated by the Local Authority of Rushcliffe Borough Council in Nottinghamshire, Rushcliffe Oaks opened its new crematorium in April 2023. As an environmentally conscious facility, it uses renewable energy sources, and is one of the first in the country to invest in innovative, all-electric technologies.

Finding the right cremation software partner meant acquiring a fit-for-purpose crematorium software solution that could meet the facility’s operational needs in the best way possible, as Rhonda explained,

“There were two main selling points of PlotBox, one, was that it was cloud-based. The other was that, compared to some of the other systems…you can generally find things out quite quickly. That, and the fact that there was a chat function where you can get things answered really quickly - that was a big tick.”

Ease of use was also a factor, as Rhonda outlined,

“It’s just a more attractive system to view - it's easier to find your way around, and most things we can generally find within a few minutes.”

Read the full story.

 

“We wanted to implement digital systems to provide a smoother and more efficient way of working with customers. Using PlotBox Software, we were able to achieve that.”

- Crematorium Manager, Lisa Parkes

 

Situated in the North West of England, Wirral Borough Council serves in the region of 320,000 residents, and operates 9 cemeteries, the largest of which is Landican Cemetery and Crematorium - one of the busiest in the UK.

As well as a system that has helped to streamline their operations, the introduction of the PlotBox Funeral Director Portal helped bring the Wirral’s Funeral Directors into a new world, with well over 90% of bookings now coming through via the portal  - dramatically reducing the Monday morning backlog and phone calls for the crematorium staff.

And the feedback from funeral directors has also been positive.

Ian Dallinger, owner of Ian Dallinger Funeral Directors in Wallasey on The Wirral said,

“The Funeral Director Portal has made the job much easier. You can literally visit a family at home, bring up the crematorium diary on your phone, and you can talk through the family with what times are available…and they can choose one themselves that suits them best.”

Susan Porter, owner of Susan C. Porter Independent Funeral Directors explained how diary visibility outside of regular working hours has helped to address the issue of waits for families,

“The benefit of using the portal is that we can get a date and time immediately for the family. Maybe there's certain reasons why they want particular dates and we have access to that over the weekend and after hours.”

Read the full story.

 

“I’ve never had such confidence in a group of people to deliver what we want and on time.”

- Cemetery Manager, Claire Skeels

 

Stevenage Borough Council in Hertfordshire, Southern England operates two cemeteries. 

The most recent of them is Weston Road, with its first burial having taken place in 1988, the older, Almond Lane, was closed for new burials in 1995, but still carries out burials for reserved plots. 

With regulations in place to ensure that the cemeteries can continue to be maintained to a high standard for future generations, the Stevenage team were looking to a cemetery management system that would help them to achieve that.

Early on, they contacted other Local Authorities to get a sense of what solutions were working best for them.

“We spoke with a number of other council’s, similar in style to Stevenage, with similar demographics - those who used similar in-house systems to ours, and those who had digitally transformed their operations.” said Claire.

“One of those who had recently undergone a transformation project with PlotBox told us, “This is going to revolutionise what you do.”

We then spoke with PlotBox who showed us what they were able to provide, and we knew that it had exactly what we were looking for.”

Among the benefits PlotBox provides is a completed picture, as Claire continued,

“Automated numbers have instantly gotten rid of 3 spreadsheets. In effect, the system leads - it’s impossible to miss something out. We now have a complete picture of a burial, from start to finish - every deed transfer, every memorial test - we have a complete audit trail. 

And with the ability to upload documents, we can now see interment forms, or transfer forms linked to plot records, keeping everything visible and connected.”

Read the full story.

 

Speak to us today about how we can help you to digitally transform your operations.

 


 

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