Digital Challenges Faced by Councils: Key Takeaways from the Pilot Report

Today, councils encounter numerous digital challenges that lead to a fragmented user experience for residents. These challenges include extended wait times for services, hindering residents from receiving timely care, and inefficient transitions between service stages, which can result in residents being overlooked.

As part of the Future Councils pilot, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) collaborated with eight councils to identify persistent obstacles to digital transformation and investigate their root causes. The findings were compiled into a comprehensive report, validated through a series of roundtable events nationwide.

Barriers to Digital Transformation

The report outlines several key barriers to digital transformation:

  1. Strategic Direction and Complexity: Councils face external pressures to cut costs and deliver immediate value without compromising services, making prioritisation difficult due to political and organisational risks. The rapidly evolving technology landscape further complicates decision-making, especially for less mature councils.
  2. Inconsistent Change Advocacy: There is no standardised approach to advocating for change or calculating return on investment (ROI), making it challenging to quantify long-term benefits.
  3. Resource Allocation Mechanisms: Resource allocation processes are often complex and duplicative. Siloed organisational structures and a lack of coordination between services hinder effective prioritisation.
  4. Procurement Challenges: Councils operate in a market that does not always meet their needs. High costs, long timelines for simple changes, and unsuitable systems are common issues. Additionally, councils may lack the skills, knowledge, or frameworks for effective procurement.
  5. Time Constraints for Transformation: Service teams are focused on critical business-as-usual (BAU) delivery, while digital teams can be perceived as peripheral. A sector-wide skills gap exacerbates the difficulty of attracting and retaining staff, undermining transformation efforts.
  6. Data Collection and Utilisation: Councils struggle to gather and use data effectively, impeding their ability to measure and learn from their efforts.

The Costs to the Sector

The report explores the financial and operational impacts of systemic challenges faced by councils. These challenges not only create inefficiencies but also result in significant additional costs, such as:

  • Spending on Inappropriate and Underutilised Technology: The council invests in technology that does not meet its needs or is underutilised, leading to wasted resources.
  • Ineffective Governance and Decision-Making Processes: Complex and duplicative governance structures that slow down decision-making and hinder effective management.
  • Project Delays, Sunk Costs, and Overspending: Delays in project completion, wasted investments, and budget overruns due to inefficient processes and poor planning.
  • Failure Demand: Increased costs resulting from the need to address failures and shortcomings in service delivery.
  • Poor Resident Outcomes and Associated Social Costs: Suboptimal services lead to negative outcomes for residents, which in turn generate additional social costs and demand for services.

Missions for the Sector

To address the identified systemic challenges and inefficiencies, the report outlines several strategic missions aimed at transforming the sector. By implementing these strategies, councils can collectively overcome barriers, enhance service delivery, and improve outcomes for residents. The key missions include:

  1. Reducing Innovation Risk: Provide councils with access to evidence and share risk across the sector by pooling resources, sharing data and solutions, and involving external bodies to offer specialised services.
  2. Creating Standards for Change: Develop patterns, tools, and templates to support case-making and governance, establish shared methods for capturing value, and set benchmarks for effective sector collaboration.
  3. Enabling Market Change: Collaborate with suppliers, engage in collective procurement, and improve partnerships with entities like the Local Government Association (LGA) to make clearer requests and create better contracting conditions.

How ADAM Can Help

  1. Strategic Direction: At ADAM Continuity, we offer strategic planning and consultancy services to help councils develop long-term IT strategies that align with their goals and budget constraints. ADAM has strategic partnerships with the majority of Tier 1 and Tier 2 OEM partners and will leverage these relationships to provide councils with technical roadmaps regularly to help anticipate and plan for future technological changes and innovations.
  2. Consistent Change Advocacy: As part of our service delivery, ADAM can assist with developing and implementing a change management framework, which will include best practices for advocating change and demonstrating ROI. We can calculate the expected ROI for many of our solutions to assist councils with their decisions.
  3. Resource Allocation: ADAM encourages a collaborative partnership with our clients, which we achieve through regular stakeholder meetings. As part of our service delivery, we agree with the main responsible stakeholders and the project sponsors. Responsibilities are agreed upon ahead of projects, and updates are regularly provided to the wider organisation. Any risks that may cause the delivery of a service will be highlighted early on to ensure continual progress is made and risks mitigated.
  4. Overcoming Procurement Challenges: ADAM can assist Councils in navigating the market and selecting the best-fit solutions and vendors. We are proud to be on the majority of Government frameworks and can, as such, assist in directing councils to framework providers, such as CCS, to further help councils understand and navigate procurement.
  5. Saving Time for Transformation: Acting as an extension of our customers’ IT Teams, ADAM can offer our expertise and support services to help maintain continuity for critical services and free up service team resources. This will enable service teams to better focus on continual improvements and collaborate with digital teams to focus on future innovations.
  6. Data Collection and Utilisation: ADAM can offer guidance on Councils adopting AI technologies to better use and analyse data. We can help them scope and build their infrastructure to better cope with AI by collecting data through edge technology and securely storing it either on-premises or in the cloud.

Let’s Start Your Transformation Journey

Local governments face unique challenges in enhancing cyber resilience and using digital transformation to deliver better services and increase productivity. As highlighted in the report, they are often hindered by high costs, lengthy timelines, and outdated systems, coupled with a lack of procurement expertise.

At ADAM Continuity, our tailored services enhance cybersecurity, guide digital transformation, reduce costs, expedite changes, and implement effective systems. Contact us today to begin your transformation journey.

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