Top ten tips: transforming services through data


By Chris Greene, Head of CIPFA Information Services

CIPFA recently held a thought-provoking ‘Transforming Services Through Data’ seminar that brought together experts who understand that data is at the heart of redesigning services.

Ray Chitty, insurance manager of the 'tri-borough council', explained how he had used CIPFA’s insurance benchmarking data to develop a baseline to set objectives and improve outcomes in the three borough shared services partnership. Tim Allen, Visiting Professor at Birbeck, London University and Visiting Fellow at Cranfield University who teaches and advises on public policy, examined the relationship between analytics and the political drivers that influence change.

A demonstration was provided by Phil Wooley from Grant Thornton of CFO Insights, an exciting new tool that provides information for councils to understand the factors that contribute towards areas of deprivation and develop a better picture of where they should invest resources for better social outcomes.

Some of the key messages coming out of the day included:

  1. Data and evidence are key components of any transformation programme, but they don’t transform services by themselves. They can however provide invaluable insight to aid diagnosis and inform service design and forward planning.
  2. Before transforming a service you need to establish a baseline for current performance, otherwise stakeholders won’t know what success looks like.
  3. As part of any data review exercise, you should set clear expectations, commitments, objectives and outcomes to ensure that the maximum value can be achieved.
  4. Evidence needs to be accessible, reliable and timely, answering today’s questions, but also with an eye to tomorrow. Understanding lessons from the past can help you set realistic ambitions for the future.
  5. Data reporting needs to be aligned to your service goals and be digestible both up stream and down stream within your organisation, whether the performance being reported is good or bad.
  6. If you invest in benchmarking or other data collection exercises, incorporate it at the heart of your reporting to make sure that you get full value.
  7. Benchmarking should be used to determine where improvements are called for, to analyse how others achieve high performance and to use this information to improve.
  8. One of the biggest reasons for not getting the most out of benchmarking is a failure to obtain buy-in from management. Make sure your management team know what benchmarking is available and understand the benefits of using it.
  9. Make sure you are measuring the right thing. Don’t be tempted to just look at the data you have lying around. Consider what inputs and outputs are important to the process.
  10. Don’t be shy – shout about your success!

Discover more

  • Transforming Services Through Data event: visit our website for slide presentations.    
  • Transform your back office services: our new-look Corporate Services Benchmarking clubs cover 18 areas including finance, governance, staffing and democracy, measuring the cost and performance of service delivery to help you manage your resources and improve value for money. Find out more.