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Six ways to improve Regional Council performance

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Six ways to improve Regional Council performance

Regional councils face a battle: how to achieve more with less while staying transparent

Increasingly constituents expect governments to provide the fast, seamless service they’re used to from the private sector. They want to deal with the public sector on their own terms, whether it’s on a mobile device, at home on their computer, in person or through a combination of channels.

Great we say! A more interactive collaborative way to get real time information back to us as a council or regional authority, for better services.

The problem is that they’re more likely to post a comment about it, and negatively if they don’t receive these interactive services. They will complain on their own terms and that means on social media, rather than send an email or make a call to the council office.

To stay relevant and ensure you can get the benefits of community feedback and the insight it delivers, requires a continuous desire to evolve. It sometimes means taking an wholistic approach putting the ratepayers and your employees at the centre of the council or agency’s digital transformation.

Citizen-centric governments are using a digital-first approach to improve, digitize and automate community interactions and internal processes. Now we all have invested in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software and ways to provide quicker and more seamless service. These systems when implemented well with the right view and Customer Strategy (CX) and goals, builds trust with the public.

We can offer the public a full view of the uptake of services, resulting in increased transparency, satisfaction, potential cost savings whilst achieving measures of compliance.

Here are 6 ways to give communities the experience they’re looking for and should form part of your planning and investment roadmaps post the pandemic.

  1. Use analytics to make evidence-informed decisions where possible

The challenge of a digital-first approach is how to use all the data available effectively. Regional rate-payers say they’re willing to share personal information across agencies and levels of government to get customised services. Data silos then become the issue. Data is often siloed in systems that may not talk to each other – hence our investments to date in ERP systems – to get a single customer view etc.

The theory says that a well-planned and executed digital transformation allows government to align new business systems with current policies and leaves the needed room to grow as policies change.

Services can be further personalized and improved through machine learning which may be a significant investment beyond budgets. That is where benchmarking insights for regional authorities and councils are handy. Leverage other investments for insights that may improve what you do.

Machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence (AI) that can generate remarkably accurate predictions. It functions by crunching vast quantities of data in search of patterns for other digital tools that deliver information and insights that are potentially lost in paper files or spreadsheets. This method allows data to be collected in seconds, freeing up time and allowing organisations to anticipate community or other needs.

  1. Manage costs and deliver better service where possible with robotic process automation

Robotic process automation (RPA) is a powerful tool to perform manual, time-consuming, rules-based tasks more efficiently — reducing cycle time and lowering costs. RPA can be built into routine as an innovative solution that’s improving efficiency and service delivery to communities.

Organisations across the private and public sectors are struggling to find and retain the right talent often spending millions of dollars on contractor support, or shifting resources away from critical tasks, to handle recurring, routine and manual tasks. Process robotics can allow government to operate in a more effective and cost-efficient way by shifting resources from manual tasks to more complex and value-adding work.

Finding the sweet spot for interaction with regional rate-payers and other community stakeholders can be discovered using RPA for areas that follow rules-based business processes, including claims processing, employee onboarding, compliance reporting, regional registrations, dispute resolution and credential verification. “Bots” or computer-coded, rule-based software require minimal integration and can often be deployed in a matter of weeks.

  1. Connect to the Internet of Things (IoT) where possible

Governments can embrace the IoT and use these capabilities as citizens become more connected to the things around them. The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming everyday physical objects that surround us into an ecosystem of networked information that can enrich our lives. Within Australia, one of the IoT landscapes is on the 3G LTE Network that will be switched off in 2024. Being ready for the 4G LTE for IoT devices currently living on the 3G network, is a planning exercise for upcoming periods.

Appliances to parking spaces, to homes and buildings, the IoT is bringing more and more connected devices into a networked digital world. The IoT allows organizations to make real-time decisions and improve service delivery based on current conditions. This can improve both the community experience and efficiency.

  1. Simplifying legacy applications

Any agency’s technology portfolio is likely made up of multiple versions of software, databases and hardware. This includes legacy or commodity vendor systems that are nearing end of life or are difficult to support. While regional authorities have been adopting more shared applications and centralised technology, governments globally are still wrestling with redundant systems and managing the overhead costs to support them.

A key outcome of all digital transformation should be a roadmap to reduce this back-end complexity. From the start thinking about how effective each legacy application is in terms of business value and technological health and if an application succeeds in both categories, expand it. If it’s deficient in one or more, re-engineer or replace it.

If you can simplify your technology footprint, you reduce costs and can redirect that energy into offering more innovative services to regional communities.

  1. Thinking strategically to adopt the right technology

A digital-first strategy encourages transformative change in how a council or authority operates often crossing agency lines. A successful implementation takes proper planning and preparation, and all stakeholders must agree change is needed. The change and measuring for the right CX may take time as ERP is rolled out.

However, what specific issues need to be solved?

And where is the “low hanging fruit” where we can get quick wins for our ERP investments?

Understanding your key data and establishing what information can be shared and who has access, alongside vision is the key. Being prepared to measure, revisit, realign and even back-track to get the insights that ERP and digitisation can deliver is the key to long-term returns on any digital investment.

  1. Why are we not using Benchmarking insights?

A benchmark alone, in traditional form, doesn’t reveal what an organisation such as a regional authority or other “should” be spending on. A traditional benchmark may not state “where” we should be spending. It is when we utilise perhaps the targeted and well defined strategic goals of others, developed with benchmarked performance indicators, and review results regularly from any change can we build resilient organisations. Surely that is our goal. Complex change and disruption are here to stay in the short-term so then how do we then better manage it?to 

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