Article

Councils need digital transformation to meet the growing expectations of their communities

For many Australian and New Zealand councils, the pandemic has been a defining event. In response to the sudden surge in demand for digital services from their employees and communities, local government councils had to quickly pivot to processes, tools and technologies to enable digital modes of operation.

Councils had to accelerate their digital transformation plans as digital service delivery became key to providing essential services and supporting business continuity. Libraries developed ‘click and collect’ and home delivery services, community development programs were held over the internet, and vulnerable members of communities were supported via digital technologies.  

Local governments leveraged new and existing technology to bring customer service interfaces online, providing more options for communities to access information and make enquiries. While the transformative effect of these changes has been undeniable and beneficial, councils have also had to deal with new risks and challenges

Council IT departments have been under enormous pressure to quickly develop new systems to enable remote working environments, to support staff in learning and adapting to new technologies, and to ensure all hardware and software requirements have been met along the way.

Without the required planning in place, some councils may have opened themselves up to cyber security risks, overburdened their internal IT teams or been left with a patchwork of impractical and unsustainable stop-gap systems. 

As community expectations of digital services continue to rise, councils are quickly discovering the limits of stop-gap solutions. Communities now expect to be able to pay rates, apply for permits, book rubbish collection and request various other services online. Equally, employees working remotely expect digital alternatives to procedures that may have once been manual, such as applying for leave or being reimbursed for spending.

Partially digitising these systems is not a long-term solution – they are already resulting in gaps that increase complexity, response time and the need for manual processing, which negatively impacts both employee productivity and customer satisfaction.

In fact, data from our 2021 Local Government Digital Transformation Index revealed that 76 per cent of respondents ranked customer satisfaction as the highest priority for digital transformation.

Customer satisfaction and employee efficiency are often intertwined. For example, if a customer raises a problem with Council, they will judge performance based on their experience, council responsiveness, and how quickly the problem is dealt with.

Without the right systems supporting the council officers to do their jobs efficiently, they cannot deliver a superior customer outcome. For councils striving towards secure, sustainable and scalable digital service delivery, an organisation-wide digital transformation strategy is the key to unlocking that capability and providing the customer experience their communities expect.

That’s where support from a skilled partner network can be invaluable to build a business case and implementation strategy that can optimise the council’s digital investments.

Publish date

14 Jul 2021

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