There are lots of opportunities for local authorities to embrace the cloud and digital in general in order to improve services to customers, save money and operate more efficiently. In this article we’ll explore some local government digital strategy ideas.Posted on 03 August 2017 -
Starting with the most important point - and apologies for misleading you in the title - but by setting out to create a digital strategy, you’re probably going in the wrong direction to begin with. Digital will be at its most effective when it is inherent within a local authority’s wider business strategy, rather than its own standalone approach to ‘stuff to do with the website’. As such, any local government digital strategy worth its salt needs involvement from the C-suite in order to fulfil its potential and cannot simply be the preserve of the IT or marketing departments.
In other words, every aspect of a council’s ways of working need to be taken back to the drawing board and rethought from a ‘digital by design’ perspective. That will allow for genuine improvements and efficiencies to be made, rather than tacking small changes onto a existing non-digital infrastructure. So local government digital-first business strategy ideas would have been a more accurate title.
Obviously tearing things up and starting again is going to require lots of collaboration, cooperation and - ugly as the phrase might be - ‘buy-in’ within the organisation, but we’re talking wider than that. Make contact with neighbouring authorities to see if there are areas of overlap that might allow a strategic partnerships to be formed. Improving digital is likely to entail investing in software, hardware and licences, so joining forces with other authorities might help to boost spending power or reduce costs.
Equally, a joined up digital approach with other stakeholders serving the community could reap similar rewards for all parties.
The digital strategy doesn’t have to impact customers directly. You can also improve the services provided to them and the value they get from their council tax by making life easier for yourself and your colleagues. Technology that allows people to do their jobs in the community is a quick-win. Allowing mobile or remote staff to access data, take action and communicate effectively without having to return to their desks each time will potentially allow for less travelling time and expenses, a greater workload without longer hours, and a less frustrating workflow for staff.
Equally, an improved and expanded intranet could provide many of the same benefits. Giving staff quick and easy access to documents, the tools to fill them out online and then action the completed forms digitally will make life easier for everyone. Collaboration areas and any features that speed up workflow for your staff are also worth exploring.
Local authorities already have access to large amounts of data that businesses in the private sector would probably have to pay a lot of money to collate. This data can be used to improve services. For instance, a council knows why and when members of the public contact them, how they expect to conduct the interaction and what typically slows or delays this process. Armed with that information, a local authority can create digital experiences that streamline these processes and provide a better experience for customers and staff.
Building on the use of data, a contemporary local government digital strategy ought to allow for a personalised experience for customers. When you interact with a retailer, you expect them to know what you’ve bought previously, what sort of things you might want to buy on this visit and to provide a personal service across all digital devices. Customers have the same expectations of local authorities.
Cloud hosting offers the opportunity for local authorities to store, maintain and manage their servers in-house. This presents opportunities for lots of savings to be made, not least in terms of energy bills and floorspace. Depending on the type of hosting most suitable for the requirements, it might also be possible to avoid the need to buy hardware outright. Renting from an external hosting company would allow for regular updates to the latest technology without any substantial investment.