2 challenges local councils must meet for digital transformation

Recent reports and studies have explored the difficult place that local councils find themselves in – particularly as they consider ways to provide better citizen services. “Digital transformation” is the latest of several trends suggesting that government organisations need to increase automation, eliminate redundant tasks and re-imagine processes from their citizens’ perspectives in order to meet expectations and drive efficiency.

In fact, it has become a governmental mandate in Australia. While many councils are exploring transformation, day-to-day operations alone pose many challenges that could delay any sweeping changes.

Challenge No. 1: Improving service …

The first challenge is the constant pressure to improve customer service. This is compounded by the potential difficulties associated with population density, rural vs. urban and growing vs. stagnant economies.

The variety within states and councils gives them reason to resist a single solution applied in a ”one size fits all” fashion. Customer service can look very different depending on your location, but there is no doubt that online services are one of the most discussed options.

Challenge No. 2: … while reducing expenses

A second challenge is that, while there is universal pressure to reduce local operating expenses – and possible rate-capping by the state – there are many opinions on how to accomplish it. The options could include service reductions, staff reductions or investment in technologies that can reduce costs and drive efficiencies.

Those needing services obviously tend to oppose service reductions. And it takes courage to invest in technology that operates behind the scenes while the possibility of services cuts loom. This tends to leave staff reduction as the most common option, but that has a direct relationship to service delivery and possibly the ability to staff the initiatives needed to develop better services.

Technology seems like an obvious option, but it can come with security concerns and its deployment and support may require skill sets that do not currently exist within current council staff. Some would say that the acquisition of technology can involve difficult and time-consuming procurement processes that do not always result in the selection of the best solution.

But generally speaking, selecting new technologies is difficult when you are not up-to-date on the latest trends and solutions. Business managers may know they need better tools, but they may not have expertise or knowledge of the best tools for digital transformation.

These challenges may seem overwhelming, but they’re not insurmountable. In fact, public sector entities have improved service delivery by changing one aspect of the paradigm of government service delivery. The shift? No more paper-based processes.

And luckily, when it comes to planning your digital transformation, you don’t need to look very far to find the expert help you might need.

Next time, we’ll talk about how local councils can overcome these challenges, modernise and do so in a sustainable way.

Terri Jones

Terri Jones

Wondering what goes into a document management or ECM software deployment in government? Terri Jones, Hyland's government marketing portfolio manager, has your answer. In her 10 plus years in both state and local government, she's managed IT departments, implemented ECM strategies and written legislation and program policies. If that isn't enough to prove her IT expertise in government, she has also designed and implemented data systems and websites to manage compliance and funding in excess of $90 million annually. Have a question for her? Contact her at terri.jones@onbase.com.

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