Across the country, local government bodies are facing the challenge of trying to maintain high standards of the services they deliver. This is despite substantial cuts to their funding from central government – over 50% in real terms between 2010 and 2021 – and a rising demand for social care due to a population that is expanding and ageing.
Referencing research into governmental IT strategies worldwide, Gartner has identified five barriers to progress within digital transformation. Many of these aren’t technical in nature, and are wider issues that are holding innovation back:
- Lack of funding: aside from cuts in central government funding, viewing IT investment as operational rather than strategic makes justifying spending more challenging
- Siloed organisations: when teams and departments are completely separate, implementing solutions that work for everyone is much more difficult
- Risk-averse cultures: CIOs naturally want to be certain that any new investment will definitely pay off, so a culture of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” tends to prevail
- Gaps in digital skills: many authorities are finding it harder than ever to recruit in-house expertise in specific areas, as top talent comes with a high price tag
- Insufficient IT business resources: connected to the previous point, the inability to access skills and talent quickly is a hindrance to tech implementation
Because of this, many local authorities (similar to other public sector bodies) are lagging behind the private sector when it comes to investing in technology and innovation. However, making investments in this area is vital: authorities that don’t, risk their services becoming increasingly outdated, and the public becoming increasingly dissatisfied.
The advantages of streamlined operations
Once local authorities begin to innovate and digitally transform, they will find major efficiencies in their operations, and gain the ability to achieve much more with the funding available to them. Additionally, with better use of the data and insights, they will be able to make quicker, easier and more informed decisions, which will have a directly positive impact on the quality of public services that citizens receive.
Examples of how local government can benefit from streamlined operations include:
- Applications: digitally standardising planning applications will make the process easier for applicants, and make it simpler for planning officers to review and adjudicate on applications. Additionally, the ability for applicants to digitally submit and sign documents, generates more efficiencies by removing paper and post from the process
- Casework and record management:digital records can be shared across multiple people and devices, speeding up the distribution of information compared to paper documents that have to be physically passed from one party to another. These documents can also be made searchable through metadata, making research and document-finding time far quicker
- Audit preparation: making records digital means that creation, access and disposal of them can be monitored, in turn generating an audit trail of who has accessed which information, when and from where
Improving business efficiency through more streamlined processes
Exploring new ways of managing and distributing documents can generate major efficiencies in processes for local authorities, especially as traditional paper-based documents are still relied on in many areas. At SCC, our Digital Transformation team specialises in helping local government bodies like yours implement the right technologies to realise these efficiencies, as well as providing the skills and expertise that you might be missing.
The services we can provide include (and are not necessarily limited to):
- Digital Mail: with many staff now working from home or under a hybrid model in the long-term, normal day-to-day operations can be disrupted if they have to travel into the office to collect post, or if they’re simply unable to. We can help you digitise inbound and outbound mail, so that they can continue to be productive whenever and wherever they’re working
- Document creation: we can help you develop a range of standardised templates that ease and speed up the creation of documents, including forms, applications, policies and official correspondence
- Archiving: due to budget constraints, many local governments are having to consolidate multiple offices and share facilities. Yet, records have to be kept for a minimum of six years, and then reviewed, in order to comply with GDPR. With space becoming tighter, having to dedicate a significant amount of it to paper-based storage becomes even more of a problem. This space can be freed up by digitising these records, which also makes auditing easier and enables multiple bodies to share technology investments
The start of the streamlining process is to bring in our experts for a digital transformation audit, where we can assess your current systems, departments and practices to find areas where our solutions can be deployed to save time, money and resources.
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