Councils in Wales have faced several financial challenges in recent years, with ongoing reductions in funding reduced from the government by nearly £16 billion over the preceding decade. This means that councils will have lost at least 60p out of every £1 that the government has provided to spend on local services (Local Government Association 2018). The reduction in funding has resulted in local authorities having to make difficult decisions to make substantial savings and adopt ways to generate additional revenue.
Local authorities can make significant savings by re-engineering their processes and value digital transformation more widely within their organisation, resulting in increased efficiency and productivity while also improving services for citizens whilst achieving substantial savings at the same time.
Below are some ways digital has helped Local Authorities to maintain high performance when facing funding challenges:
1. Enhanced data collection
Digital transformation value creates a system for gathering the right data and incorporating it fully for business intelligence at a higher level.
2. Greater resource management
Digital consolidates information and resources into a suite of tools for business. It can integrate applications, databases, and software into a central repository for business intelligence.
Digital is not a department or functional unit. It encompasses every area of a business and can lead to process innovation and efficiency across teams.
3. Data-driven customer insights
Data can be the key to unlocking customer insights. By better understanding your customers and their needs, you can create a business strategy that is even more customer-centric.
Data enables strategies to provide more relevant, personalised, and agile content.
4. Encourages digital culture (with improved collaboration)
Providing team members with the right tools tailored to their environment can facilitate collaboration.
5. Enables remote work and business continuity
From the mundane to the truly catastrophic, disruptions are bound to happen. Whether a blizzard or flood that closes roads, making it impossible for employees to drive to the office or a global pandemic as we have witnessed with COVID-19, which has forced the world into a year-long remote working, local governments must be able to operate regardless.
Business continuity and responsiveness are critical. Forego paper and securely store crucial information in the cloud. Enable employees to access essential data, from any location, through any device, at any time.
7. Increased agility
Digital makes organisations more agile. Businesses can learn from practices used initially in software development to increase their agility to improve speed-to-market and adopt Continuous Improvement (CI) strategies. This allows for faster innovation and adaptation while providing a pathway to improvement.
8. Improved productivity
Having the right tech tools that work together can streamline workflow and improve productivity. Automating many manual tasks and integrating data throughout the organisation empowers team members to work more efficiently.
Service New South Wales (Service NSW) is a government initiative focused on delivering services to citizens— including driver licenses, birth certificates, senior cards, and more. They sought to improve the customer experience by becoming a “one-stop-shop” for all citizen needs. To achieve this objective, Service NSW embarked on an initiative to enhance the customer experience by making these government services accessible to citizens from a single place—whether it is in-person, online, or through mobile. This required integrating data from government departmental IT systems with Salesforce and other record methods securely. With API-led connectivity, Service NSW modernised legacy back-end systems with APIs, exposing over 40 external government departments and agencies in a way that didn’t risk compromising system security. Today, the infrastructure they built is not based on point-to-point code but emphasises an API-first approach that allows Service NSW to expose legacy systems with APIs in a scalable and flexible manner. By taking an API-led approach to legacy modernisation, Service NSW consolidated its services and became a one-stop-shop for all government services. As a result, they increased digital services delivery by 50% and drastically improved the customer experience by achieving a 97% customer satisfaction rating from 2 million customers.
Councils need to think and operate more commercially to accelerate profit and save costs. By re-engineering processes and automating workflows, connecting ‘internet of things (IoT)’ devices (with automated notifications, alerts and data insight) and streamlining citizen interactions with self-service and AI, digital can transform the council services it offers.