GDS and Local Government
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Andy Sandford, Director of We are Lean and Agile, answers the question as to what can be learnt from local authorities about processes

Government Digital Service (GDS) and Central Government have delivered so much for digital transformation in the public sector. By leading the way with Agile and the GDS standards, by sharing code, working in the open, creating reusable resources and solutions they have created a path for others to follow. With any process, there are always opportunities to continuously improve as the GDS have with their approach.

One area they can still improve further is process discovery and improvement. I would argue that no matter what approach you are taking to delivering your project you must always understand the current process and be able to improve that and understand the benefits of changes.

I see process discovery and improvement as a fundamental building block of any change programme. It’s not sexy and new like Agile but lean is a great discipline to deliver real engagement, culture change and benefits. Lean plays a role in all stages of the GDS Agile approach but even more fundamentally maybe, I see it as vital in terms of getting a project commissioned in the first place.

A couple of new (to me) areas of the GDS approach are:

  • Spend controls
  • Performance platform

I am no expert on either and if you want to get more information have a look at spend controls and performance platform. The reason I highlight these is because I see the need for good governance and the role it plays in supporting the successful delivery of Agile user centred products.

To explain spend controls I can’t do better than direct from the GDS page.

The spend controls process exists to make sure:

  • You’ve considered the needs of the people who’ll use the service.
  • You get the best value.
  • You only spend on programmes and projects that meet government digital and technology strategies.
  • Private businesses and members of the public can see how government makes decisions about spending money on digital projects or technology.
  • You discover and solve any problems with your service before you spend money.
  • You develop services using Agile methods.

I see good governance as vital to delivery and an area where we need to mature in public sector projects. Spend controls to me seem to be ensuring due diligence is followed when commissioning services. For me process discovery and improvement as I understand them (using modern tools) support and deliver outputs to navigate the spend control process.

The second item I really appreciate is the performance platform. Again, taken directly from the site:

What to measure

You must collect data that shows how your service is performing against these 4 metrics:

  • Cost per transaction – how much it costs the government each time someone completes the task your service provides.
  • User satisfaction – what percentage of users are satisfied with their experience of using your service.
  • Completion rate – what percentage of transactions users successfully complete.
  • Digital take-up – what percentage of users choose your digital service to complete their task over non-digital channels.

Again, this is a common governance problem I see as vital to delivery, how do we baseline our current service and measure the benefits of any improvements? This is a common problem and the Performance Platform gives you the 4 key measures all GDS projects must report on (and obviously continuously improve ideally). You can also report additional KPIs specific to your process. In local government, we often talk about the types of measures to report and this is a great starting point.

In local government, we are always talking about why understanding cost per transaction is vital to the improvement process and how you can measure it very easily with good process discovery and improvement (and modern tools).

What can you (GDS and Central Government) learn from Local Authorities about processes?

We are already working with over 30 innovative local authorities in the UK using our software and approach to support improvement people in their organisations. In the Netherlands, 33% of local authorities use it as well as other public and private sector companies to improve their processes and understand the benefits of change.

Local authorities in the UK are already using our lean process platform to help them understand and improve their processes. We offer a number of benefits over existing methods of capturing process maps and identifying improvements. I can guarantee the software is beneficial to any approaches.

What does the software help us to do better?

There are many benefits to using this new innovative software, below we list some of the key benefits for your improvement teams:

  • Workshop friendly. Build maps live in the workshops projected on a screen. No more wasted time for your improvement teams writing up process maps and no more needs for post-its and brown paper. As the attendees build the maps live in the workshop there are no shocks when they see the results.
  • Model, don’t map. Our software offers all the benefits of existing mapping tools but on top of that, you are entering times and costs in the process maps. Instead of getting a process map just an image of the process flow you have a fully costed model of your process.
  • Powerful analysis tools. With the costs embedded you can now use the analysis tools to highlight bottlenecks, waste and potential areas for improvement.
  • Benefits of change. When you redesign your services, you can now compare your current process with the new design and with a button click see the benefits of change.
  • Continuous improvement. Don’t just put your maps on the shelf after the improvement project. Publish them and use them for team members to collaborate and identify new improve­ments, challenges or iterations.

Don’t just take our word for it have a look at our blogs or get in touch for a demo or the free months trial.

Blog – How do I map and understand my processes


Please note: This is a commercial profile

Andy Sandford


We are Lean and Agile

Tel: +44 (0)1803 424 050


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