Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Why you don't need a digital strategy

Are you writing a digital strategy for a council? Stop it right now!

Most digital strategies I've seen focus on enabling customers to do things online, I've even seen councils claim they'll be delivering 100% of services online this year. Your strategy needs to be about more than just online.

Many strategies are created as a plan to deliver savings, with success measured in redundancies.  It's important to understand how digital technology can enable organisations do more and bring in additional revenue.

Some strategies talk about digital being a mindset. It's not. The problem is that the term "digital" has been conflated with "the internet" and most importantly service design.

Think about technology, think about the people that the technology supports, think about the service the people and technology support, and above all think about the user (and statutory) needs the service meets.

Organisations will always need specialists. Think about how your strategy will help highway engineers, social workers, town planners and teachers deliver a better service.

Organisations will always need generalists. Think about how your strategy will help them answer the questions and do the work a digital service can't, without needing to retain specialist knowledge on a wide range of topics.

Organisations will always need websites. Think about how your strategy will enable online self-service as much as possible, whilst supporting generalists and specialists for tasks that can't be completed entirely on the internet.

Understand that digital is an enabler for good service design, it is not service design in itself. Forget your digital strategy and start writing a transformation and delivery framework for your organisation.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Transforming collaboration across Local Government

Last year, when we were putting the Local Government Digital Service Standard (LGDSS) together Matthew Cain had a good idea. In truth he had lots of good ideas, but this post is about one of them and how we might progress it.

The LGDSS suggests an approach for councils to build good, value for money digital services people want to use. As councils start to adopt it there's an emerging view of what "good looks like" across the sector.

Councils provide different combinations of hundreds of services, but many of them are broadly similar across local government. Now we have the LGDSS and there's an agreed set of principles for transformation and delivery it's a become lot easier for councils to work together.

There'll always be a place for informal discussion, through initiatives like Unmentoring, events like LocalGovCamp, channels like Slack, or just picking up the phone and talking to someone.

As service transformation projects become mainstream across local government there's a growing need for resource and expertise on a formal basis. I've done this myself and used Digital Marketplace to find an individual specialist to bring in resource for a little as a week.

I've found it excellent, but what if I need a resource couple of days, or even just a few hours? Also, imagine if I could employ the expertise of someone from another council who's already completed the work I'm starting on, so I don't need to start from scratch.

Imagine if there was a pool of local government talent I could formally call on to do this. My organisation would pay for their time, and they could be paid overtime by their organisation to do the work.

With your organisation's permission you could add yourself to the pool, perhaps you might say you're just available for a couple of hours a week and if another council books your time, you become unavailable for that week.

This is easier said than done of course. A platform needs to be created or adapted, payment terms agreed and a mechanism for this built, employment and procurement law considered, and councils need to be onboarded (although there's only 400 and it just needs to be done once) plus a lot more. However, I think with enough will and a little investment this could work.

So who's up for transforming collaboration across Local Government?
This blog is written by Phil Rumens, Vice-Chair of LocalGov Digital, lead for LGMakers and who manages the digital services team at a local authority in England.

The opinions expressed in this weblog are my own personal views and in no way represent any organisation I may have worked for, currently work for, might be thinking of working for, might not be thinking of working for or have never worked for. In fact having said that they, might not even be my views any more as I might have changed my mind so I wouldn't take any of it too seriously.