Skip to main content

Transforming collaboration across Local Government

Last year, when we were putting the Local Government Digital Service Standard (LGDSS) together Matthew Cain had a good idea. In truth he had lots of good ideas, but this post is about one of them and how we might progress it.

The LGDSS suggests an approach for councils to build good, value for money digital services people want to use. As councils start to adopt it there's an emerging view of what "good looks like" across the sector.

Councils provide different combinations of hundreds of services, but many of them are broadly similar across local government. Now we have the LGDSS and there's an agreed set of principles for transformation and delivery it's a become lot easier for councils to work together.

There'll always be a place for informal discussion, through initiatives like Unmentoring, events like LocalGovCamp, channels like Slack, or just picking up the phone and talking to someone.

As service transformation projects become mainstream across local government there's a growing need for resource and expertise on a formal basis. I've done this myself and used Digital Marketplace to find an individual specialist to bring in resource for a little as a week.

I've found it excellent, but what if I need a resource couple of days, or even just a few hours? Also, imagine if I could employ the expertise of someone from another council who's already completed the work I'm starting on, so I don't need to start from scratch.

Imagine if there was a pool of local government talent I could formally call on to do this. My organisation would pay for their time, and they could be paid overtime by their organisation to do the work.

With your organisation's permission you could add yourself to the pool, perhaps you might say you're just available for a couple of hours a week and if another council books your time, you become unavailable for that week.

This is easier said than done of course. A platform needs to be created or adapted, payment terms agreed and a mechanism for this built, employment and procurement law considered, and councils need to be onboarded (although there's only 400 and it just needs to be done once) plus a lot more. However, I think with enough will and a little investment this could work.

So who's up for transforming collaboration across Local Government?

Popular posts from this blog

Digital best practice checklist

This week I finished the draft of a digital best practice check-list. It's not digital strategy, in fact I'm increasingly thinking organisations don't need a digital strategy, they need a delivery strategy.

My draft has check-list of seven questions and recommendations, with one overall recommendation regarding best practice for delivering digital. Ideally it would be incorporated into a wider service and information delivery strategy.

Below I've omitted the bulk of the content, the reasoning behind arriving at the recommendation from the question because it's still in draft, but here are the seven questions and eight recommendations:

1. Is the council properly promoting its digital services and content, to reduce avoidable contact?

Recommendation: Establish a “digital first” ethos to the promotion of services and better targeting what, when and where they're promoted.

2. Are the digital services the council offers, especially where the design and development ha…

Pipeline Alpha

In September 2014, officers from 25 councils met in Guildford to discuss a platform to enable collaboration across Local Government. A "Kickstarter for local government" is the missing part to Makers Project Teams, a concept to enable collaborative working across different organisations put forward by LGMakers the design and development strand of LocalGov Digital.

Based on the user needs captured at the event, LGMakers created collaboration platform Pipeline and by October people from over 50 councils had signed up. Pipeline is an Alpha, a prototype set up to evaluate how a Kickstarter for councils might work. It is a working site though, and is being used as the platform it is eventually intended to be, at present without some of finer features a live offer might have.

So what have I've learnt in the eight months since we launched Pipeline?

There's a strong desire to collaborate 

LocalGov Digital isn't a funded programme. I wrote about how much it LocalGov Digita…

Superfast highways

You may have seen this slide I put together to help explain digital transformation

This week we launched a new beta service to report speeding traffic. It looks fairly simple but to give you an idea of what's happening in the background I thought it might be useful to show you the before and after.

So here's the before

and as you can see it's completely a manual process. Stuff might be recorded electronically but it takes someone to do something seven time to make the process work and send it to the parish or the district.

Here's the after

What this doesn't tell you is that it's basing whether the request is for the parish or district on three questions. It's also doing a spatial look up to find the parish and returning the parish clerk details using the Modern.Gov API.

Because these are already part of our platform this is data that we currently maintain, so there's no additional work to keep this up to date and we've reduced the human interactio…

Defining transformation to a wider audience

For the past month I've been putting together a paper on the next steps of digital transformation, for the organisation I work for. I'm proposing we look at two capabilities and two business areas, and if approved I'll be writing more about it.

It's been a great exercise in gathering my thoughts and helping me to define digital transformation to a wider audience and how it fits into the bigger picture of service improvement.

Here's some of the stuff I've learnt or had affirmed:
Transformation, digital or not, starts with understanding the needs of the user through research. This should be obvious, but in local government too often I've seen "build it and they will come" approach applied.

It's unlikely a commercial operation would launch a new product without first researching the market, so why would a digital service be any difference?
A couple of years ago I wrote how the phrase "digital transformation" was hindering digital transf…

Carl's Conundrum of Internal Influence

I'm writing this partly as a reply to an excellent piece that Carl Haggerty published about the disconnect between internal and external influence and partly due to various conversations over the past month about how to make using tools like collaboration platform Pipeline common practice.

This isn't really about Carl though, or Devon County Council, or any other council specifically, it's more a comment on the influence of digital teams in local governments, or lack of, and how to resolve this.

So here's the question that prompted this piece. How can someone who's been recognised nationally for their work, first by winning the Guardian's Leadership Excellent Award and who has more recently been placed in the top 100 of the Local Government Chronicle's most influential people in local government, "sometimes feel rather isolated and disconnected to the power and influence internally".

First, let's consider whether is this a problem to unique t…