How digitisation can help save money and time  for our citizens

“Using a small set of value based person centred thinking skills at all levels of the system will drive change throughout the system.”

With the expected lack of appropriate budgets from central government after Brexit, local councils are facing a tough time in providing the best services to their citizens. According to a survey conducted by the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU), more than 40% of all councils believe that making cuts in frontline services will directly affect the quality of services delivered to citizens. To maintain their funds, almost all the councils are planning to increase council taxes and increase or introduce charges in areas such as car parking, planning applications and garden waste removal, while two-thirds are dipping into reserves to balance the books.[1]

Though the increased taxes will be sufficient to cover the cost of services, it is not certain that the service delivered will become better in experience and efficiency. As per the latest report ‘Government Productivity: Unlocking the $3.5 billion opportunity’ released by McKinsey & Company, governments worldwide could save as much as $1 trillion through the effective digitisation of public services.[2] With the help of digitisation, public-sector services will be able to meet increasing citizen demand, within their budget.[3]

From a digitised user centric approach, we do not mean that local government needs to change systems overnight. Neither the budget nor the ICT knowledge of current staff in public bodies will allow this sort of ICT solution transformation.With the help of incremental innovation within a fully digital transformation plan, councils will get better support from internal as well as external stakeholders.

Collaborative

As mentioned earlier, digitisation alone is not the solution; services need to engage with citizens, reduce their pain points and improve the customer (citizen) journey. Before we can understand this fully, let’s identify the key characteristics of Citizen Centric Government.[4] (see Figure 1 below)

Currently, many government departments work in partial or complete isolation, which results in a lack of integrated data leadling to delays and duplications. With a greater focus on a collaborative approach, departments will be able to share data thus creating an ecosystem which will, in return, speed up the overall process for citizens.

Technology-Driven

For truly citizen centric approach, local government bodies need to update their current ICT solutions, after carrying a full internal assessment as well as bring innovative solutions to ensure best delivery of services. This can bring the need to update infrastructure and internal skills, so needs to be carefully assessed – and many councils could save resources by pushing more services into a secure private cloud solution. This should always be approached with a full understanding of the information governance issues involved with storage and processing of citizen data.

Agile and Responsive

Any transformation which councils aim for must be adaptable according to the changing needs of the citizens. For the best user experience, the solutions need to be sustainable and long term.

Driven by Insight

As the title suggests, for a true citizen centric based service delivery from local government organisations, end users need to be involved from the initial processes of designing the services to ensure that they receive the best delivery. Departments need to hold workshops to ask questions, identify problems and challenges as well as to record feedback for further improvements. The cycle of change cannot be short-cut without serious issues for usability and system adoption.

Third-Party Friendly

For a user centric approach, citizens are looking for the best solutions; to them it does not matter if delivery is directly from local government, or a third party – as long as price of services and information governance are not adversely affected.. Organisations can outsource various programmes to experts in the fields of research and design to make sure the services delivered to the customers are tried and tested.

Conclusion

These five characteristics lay down some basic guidelines for any organisation looking towards digital transformation; but before going ahead with any change, the organisation needs to make sure that any solution is not only strategically aligned with their current situation but also meets their needs moving forward.

With our expertise in local and regional government sector as well as user centric design, we strive to aim for the best approach to change and digitisation for our local government customers. Providing detailed, and vendor neutral, scanning of the environment, we build solutions which truly change the lives of citizens without putting precious front line resources at risk. All our solutions clearly show a measurable return on investment, and our customers rest assured that their needs are met at all times.

References

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/feb/10/councils-budget-cuts-social-care-bills

[2] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-sector/our-insights/the-opportunity-in-government-productivity

[3] https://www.information-age.com/challenges-opportunities-digital-transformation-public-sector-123462772/

[4] https://digileaders.com/citizen-centric-government-what-it-looks-like-and-how-to-get-there/