By Rhiannon Price, Head of Publishing CIPFA
Public sector organisations are under ever-increasing pressure to transform, to meet the rising expectations of customers and service users. More often than not, they are asked to do this with fewer and fewer resources but this has provided opportunities for new ways of thinking, not only on what is delivered, but how it is delivered.
Corporate services have a big role to play in responding to the new strategies and direction by delivering their own services more innovatively and enabling an organisation to deliver front line services in more creative ways.
In The Journey to Government Digital Transformation’, William Eggers and Joel Bellman surveyed 200 government staff in over 70 countries on digital transformation. The results showed that new technologies are having a major impact on government with 96% saying that this is having a significant impact in their specific area.
By making use of the rapidly increasing changes in technology organisations can develop flexible approaches to delivery that not only save money but benefit the community as a whole. In the UK much of the drive has been in response to the Government’s Digital Strategy which lists a number of actions including the need for government departments to handle more transactions online and to ensure they have appropriate digital capability in-house.
When the London Borough of Newham introduced its single online customer account in 2013, citizen self-service grew from 9% of all customer contact, to 50% by February 2014. Out-of-hours usage of online services had grown to 42% in 2013. As a result, it has been possible to reduce contact centre opening times, with 55% of bulky waste enquiries being handled online, along with 68% of green waste enquiries, and 99% of visitor parking permit applications.
The increased use of the internet and social media in the last 10 years has raised user expectations about the services they will receive and how transactions will take place. Users expect to be kept up to date through digital and social media and want to put their own views forward and they expect this to be an easy and customer friendly experience.
It’s not only users who benefit from technology services, but corporate service functions themselves, such as Finance, HR and IT. Using video conferencing and Cloud servers means people can work flexibly from almost any location and don’t need to have a permanent desk in an office.
Although technology has made it easier to engage with service users it requires some changes, not only to the skill set of staff, but to the culture of the organisation. If you need to think differently consider the value of technology, pre-empt service user needs and discuss any changes with your corporate services team – they’ll be affected by the timing and style of responses and the handling of individual service needs.
Transformation is on-going - technology doesn’t stand still. Find out how to keep communication going with your corporate services team and make changes that benefit both your objectives and interaction with your users by reading CIPFA’s corporate services transformation toolkit.