Digital transformation – a guide for local government
Digital transformation will play a key role in the future of local government. David Bemrose, Head of Account Strategy for Local Government at Crown Commercial Service (CCS), introduces a new digital transformation guide
At CCS, we recognise that technology buying decisions have the power to improve citizens’ lives and that better innovation in the delivery of digital services will support improvements in customer experience.
But against a backdrop of squeezed budgets and economic uncertainty, many public sector organisations are struggling to achieve their digital transformation goals while reducing costs and creating efficiencies.
Opportunities and challenges of digital transformation for local government
Digital transformation presents many opportunities for local government. Firstly, it offers your customers more flexible access to services around the clock. The flexibility offered by new technology also supports the Government’s levelling up agenda by opening up access to jobs located anywhere in the country. But there are many challenges to digital transformation for local government, including existing incumbent technology and employee skill gaps.
Local authorities will need to make many key decisions as part of their strategic approach to digital transformation to overcome these challenges.
CCS has produced a digital transformation guide based upon the Government’s Technology Code of Practice, a set of criteria which helps the public sector to design, build and buy technology. The aim of this guide is to help you build a digital transformation strategy which helps you to develop services that meet the needs of your residents and communities.
Here are five key steps taken from the new guide.
Defining customer needs
The first step is to have a clear understanding of your citizens and their behaviour. Residents and service users all have differing needs. Some may contact you in a crisis, whereas others may just want help with regular services. New technology must meet all of these needs and reflect how people want to access your services.
Collaboration – working smartly
Effective collaboration with other local authorities can be extremely cost-effective. It can prevent duplication of effort - allowing you to re-use technology, data and services, share best practice and work on common challenges. You will also be able to save money by aggregating your digital procurement. Lincoln Council and the London Borough of Southwark worked together to transform the management of housing repairs, using our digital marketplace for their procurement. They were able to save on resources - avoiding duplication of effort. Open Source software makes this sort of collaboration possible - providing transparency, flexibility and accountability.
Fit for the present and the future
For citizen-facing services, any new technology must work well in the present and in the future. Again, the choice of software is crucial. Your new software should complement existing back office processes and systems, with the scope to adapt.
Continuity of service is vital. No system user - internal or external - should ever be adversely affected by digital transformation. It is quite possible to future-proof your technology using open standards. Open standards software will allow you to communicate with other technology and systems – sharing data, where appropriate. You will be able to upgrade and expand your technology as needed.
Protecting customer data
Local authorities are responsible for the security and privacy of any personal information they hold. Some data will belong to vulnerable individuals, for example, looked-after children. As the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) sets out, all data must be protected.
Any breach could result in a significant fine and/or could place your residents and service users at risk. Again, the software is available to meet this challenge.
A strategic approach
Digital transformation presents many opportunities for local government, but to maximise the benefits and minimise the risks, your approach must also include a purchasing strategy. A clear purchasing strategy will help you understand what components, resources and delivery mechanisms are needed.
CCS has developed a free, easy-to-use guide to digital transformation for local authorities. Find out more and download the guide from the CCS website - visit crowncommercial.gov.uk/localgovdigital
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