1. Start with your service catalogue

If you depend on old technologies, you’re doubtless aware of the struggle to offer the new types of (enhanced) services that your ratepayers and residents expect. Or, to automate internal processes to deliver operational efficiency and value for money. And you’re likely reluctant to spend more of your budget propping up a redundant environment when you could dramatically improve it over time with the staged and strategic introduction of new digital solutions.

Experience tells us that an evolutionary approach to transforming your legacy systems gives you the breathing space needed to deliver and manage change successfully. By comparison, deciding to take a revolutionary approach delivers disruption and increases risk. 

But which system do you start your transformation journey with?

Take a service-led approach. All investments in new technology should support how you deliver public services.

This requires getting to grips with what services you provide and to whom so you can determine how you offer them and who delivers them. From this starting point, you can determine the systems and data required to ensure your customer experience is seamless and integrated across all your service channels.

Do you opt for low-hanging fruit – where the application is selected for replacement due to its ease of implementation or upgrade? Or do you choose the service that offers the greatest return on investment for your ratepayers? Do you focus on your rates or complaints systems, or how and where you collect names and addresses?

The first step when considering modernisation is to understand your service catalogue, which systems deliver each service, where there are inefficiencies, and which have a knock-on effect on other systems if removed.

Given the typical customer-centric nature of most local councils, services that help achieve customer-centric business objectives - for example, delivering exceptional customer support - are a common starting point. Especially those that cause pain, create issues and negative feedback, generate more rather than less administrative effort, and fail to deliver a return on investment. Or, even worse, require dedicated budgets and resources to maintain.

By comparison, a new cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) application in tandem with an AI-assisted digital contact centre can deliver significant and noticeable improvements in service and processes – and likely replace several legacy systems in one fell swoop. 

Ideally, reviewing systems should be done in conjunction with your technology partner. One who can assess your infrastructure and systems, demonstrate a strong understanding of your requirements, appreciate your long-term strategy, and offer solution-agnostic advice.

The resulting evaluation will establish the data modelling required to transform the services and provide a sound and easy-to-build-on base for other services as they are upgraded or replaced – one at a time.

2. Analyse your data

As discussed in our previous blog, council systems often have a break in the flow of data between them. With each disparate system collecting its own set of data, errors can propagate unchecked across your network, and there is little or no room for effective automation or improvement.

Behind the move to modernise your environment is the imperative to get the underlying data model right before extending or replacing applications you’ve identified as not pulling their weight. Centralising your data creates a lasting foundation for all other applications – unlike that legacy standalone 20-year-old on-premises ERP that jealously hoards data and is reluctant to share or add more value.

With a single source of data as your foundation, all your systems will have the same truth instantly at hand, not variations of it. You can generate a complete and accurate, near real-time view of what’s going on in every department and of every ratepayer, building, public facility and council asset. And you open the door to innovation with the ability to extend the capabilities of your applications to work together holistically.

However, most citizen-centric councils we’ve worked with don’t talk about technology. Understandably, improving services and service delivery outcomes are their (and probably your) primary consideration; they are central to everything they do - not data.

While we understand the focus on services and service delivery outcomes, we can’t understate the value and importance of your data and its role in continually improving and enhancing your services. It’s only by analysing your current data against your service targets that gaps are revealed and areas to address are highlighted.

3. Invest in change management

Change is tough for most organisations, especially when it disrupts the habits and processes of years, even decades.

While some long-tenure employees are more than willing to embrace new and improved systems, others find them unpalatable, resist adoption, and can even undermine the project's success.

It’s one thing to introduce new systems and bring a mass of unstructured, uncontrolled data together in one view, but it’s another to get fearful employees and legacy system ‘gatekeepers’ on board to maximise the benefits to the wider organisation.

Despite potential improvements to processes, letting go will always be problematic for some. Rather than losing valued and experienced resources, investing in structured and ongoing organisational change management (OCM) is essential to generate acceptance and advocacy.

4. Look for a partner who is in for the long haul

Once a new system is tabled and accepted as part of your strategic technology plan, it’s written in stone. Like all councils, when spending taxpayers' money, you’re publicly accountable for a successful outcome and have KPIs, stakeholders, and customer expectations to meet. So, choosing a partner to bring the dream to fruition is critical.

The challenge for local government is finding a partner that truly understands a services-led model. If you opt to invest in consultants who don’t understand technology, it only adds a burden to your tech. Or if you engage with a solution integrator business that doesn’t understand local government processes, the process of change becomes an uphill battle.

So, what’s important when choosing a partner?

  1. Longevity. Transformation is undeniably a long game – and software is only part of the equation. Most councils have a five- to ten-year technology strategy, so a partner who can offer commitment, capabilities, innovation, support, and continuity is essential.
  2. Experience and services. Look for a partner with proven experience in a wide range of vendor technologies, offering a complete range of services – from transformation advisory and project management to OCM, and a successful body of ongoing work with other local councils.
  3. Approach. While advocating evolution rather than revolution may sound like a piecemeal approach, it actually reflects the need for an ongoing collaboration between the council and technology partner. Successful partnering goes strategy, not project deep.
  4. Innovation. Your technology partner needs to understand, deliver, and support your service catalogue and strategy, and help you introduce advanced technology, such as IoT (Internet of Things) to track and manage assets, generative AI to improve support desk services, advanced reporting, and more.

In short, look for a partner who understands your business technology, processes and people – and has a proven history of success and enduring relationships within your sector.

While we’d like to say otherwise, moving on from legacy systems is rarely easy or pain-free. But with the right strategy, vision, and partner, it’s a journey that will build an enduring future-facing technology environment that will always live up to, if not exceed, the expectations of the community you serve.

If you’d like to discuss where to start, which services to tackle first, and how to engage your people – just reach out.

Great outcomes start with great conversations


Great outcomes start with great conversations

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