Post by Martyn Evans – Service Director, LoGov Platform
Having spent most of the last 18 months working in the public sector alongside Buckinghamshire County Council, Newham Council and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, I’ve become a little too familiar with the challenges faced in delivering the “digital transformation” many see as the answer to the cost-saving problem. At the heart of the matter is the enormous culture change required to support this transformation.
Getting individuals within an organisation to focus on their user (customer/resident/patient) needs seems to me quite straightforward. After all. most people who work in local councils or hospitals have direct personal experience of consuming the services and they know the experience is not good enough, but getting them to effect any real change on the organisation itself is near impossible.
The driver for change is usually cost-saving and there is a common misconception that delivering better services negates the possibility of saving money and vise-versa. Add to that the fact that the systems and processes are so ill-equipped to facilitate change, the simple scale of the challenge can just seem too great.
But we believe there is hope.
Enough people and organisations are trying things, small things to make a difference and, amongst our customers at least, there is an emerging set of principles forming to which we can refer for direction when we start to get lost.
As we start to reinvent public services for the digital age, we must make sure we are moving to a future state in which the following things are true:
1. Information empowers users
Information, advice and guidance online should be presented to the user in such a way as to empower them to help themselves, giving a clear understanding of the services and support provided and how they gain access to these services. Where support cannot be provided directly, users should be signposted to alternative and validated sources of support. The organisation should provide their staff with the time, skills and tools to maintain this information to a high standard
2. All interactions are valuable
In situations where the user does engage with the organisation in a more transactional way, they should be provided with a consistent and high quality digital experience across all services. The quality of this online experience should be matched by the quality of the experience across all channels.
3. Users own their data
Where personal information and evidence is required, this should only need to be provided once and access to this information should be under the control of the user themselves. This will be especially challenging as services are moved to third party providers but a technology platform should be established to support those third parties in maintaining high standards.
4. Relationships are nurtured
The information provided by the user should be used by the organisation to nurture a meaningful and positive relationship with them over time, providing information and support as new services become available or circumstances change.
5. Systems support experience
All systems should be designed to support the delivery of an excellent user experience. Systems within different service areas should allow data to be passed between them in real-time and internal user interfaces should be intuitive and optimized to facilitate efficient service delivery by staff.
6. Procurement is agile
Where systems are procured from third parties, they should be implemented in such a way that a core service can be delivered quickly and tested with internal and external users and that changes can be implemented efficiently and regularly.
7. Technology is owned by service teams
Service teams should themselves be empowered to drive forward the design of these digital services and encouraged to involve users in a collaborative, ongoing, co-design process at all times. Technology services such as ICT and the Digital team should be focussed on facilitating this.
What are your thoughts?
Over the next few months, I will be exploring these concepts further via a series of interviews and events. I would love your participation. If you have any comments or thoughts to add to this topic, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet: @martynrevans.