Digital transformation in the future of local government

future of local government
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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 Crown Commercial Service (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 & challenges of digital transformation for local government

Digital transformation presents many opportunities for the future of local government. Firstly, it offers your customers more flexible access to services around the clock. It can also help you to meet your carbon net-zero targets with less need for residents and service users to travel to customer service centres.

The flexibility offered by new technology also supports the Government’s levelling up agenda by opening up access to jobs in local authorities located anywhere in the UK. But there are many challenges to digital transformation for local government, including existing incumbent technology and employee skill gaps.

You will need to make many key decisions as part of your strategic approach to digital transformation to overcome these challenges.

CCS has produced a digital transformation guide – drawing from the Government’s Technology Code of Practice. This guide aims to help you build a digital transformation strategy that meets your customers’ needs – helping us all to build back better, level-up across the UK and reach that all-important carbon net[1]zero target by 2050. Here are five key steps taken from the new guide.

Defining customer needs

The first step is to have a clear understanding of your customers and their behaviour. Your residents and service users all have differing needs. Some may contact you in a crisis – when they are homeless, in financial difficulty or need to access social care, whereas others may just want help with regular services. New technology must meet all your customers’ needs and reflect how they 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 of local government

For customer-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 if needed. 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[1]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

You are also responsible for the security and privacy of your customers’ personal information. Some data will belong to vulnerable individuals, including children in care, and victims of domestic violence. As set out in the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), all data must be protected.

Any breach could result in a significant fine and/or system failure and could place your residents and service users at risk. Again, software is available to meet this challenge. You might consider using public cloud solutions. This will typically provide your customers with a more secure, reliable, higher quality and cost-effective service.

A strategic approach

Digital transformation presents many opportunities for the future of local government, but if you want 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, support and delivery mechanisms are needed and how to achieve the best social value for money.

You can download our digital transformation guide for more information. If you would like advice from category experts or help to access our commercial solutions please complete the online form.

CCS: Supporting the UK public sector

There are several reasons for the UK public sector to purchase with the help of Crown Commercial Service (CCS), one is that they have a wide range of commercial agreements. To enhance competition and value, CCS trade agreements use competition among suppliers.

(1) For example, the latest Digital Outcomes and Specialists 5 (DOS 5) agreement can be used by all public sector organisations to find suppliers who can design, build, and deliver made-to-order digital services using an agile approach.

Three of the major advantages are:

  • Provides customised services through suppliers with the right capabilities to meet the needs of the client.
  • No restriction on the value of an individual call-off contract (the framework has an overall OJEU value of £2 billion).
  • Most of their vendors are small and medium-sized businesses that use an agile approach to design customers’ digital services. (2)

Likewise, the Technology Services (3) agreement provides access to technology services ranging from strategy and design to operational deployment. It also provides support for large projects, including top-secret classification, and a variety of other technology services such as provision and management of IT service desk, end-user device support, and network support.

CCS is the biggest public procurement organisation in the UK. It helps thousands of public and third sector buyers in the UK with billions of pounds of spending each year.

References

https://www.crowncommercial.gov.uk/about-ccs/

https://www.crowncommercial.gov.uk/agreements/RM6100

https://www.crowncommercial.gov.uk/agreements/RM1043.7

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Head of Account Strategy for Local Government
Crown Commercial Service (CCS)
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