Digital overhauls are critical to 'local government of the future' © metamorworks via Getty Images
Digital overhauls are critical to 'local government of the future' © metamorworks via Getty Images

How councils should implement digital transformation

Local authorities aiming for a digital tranformation need to define their purchasing strategy, according to a guide.

The guide, produced by the Crown Commercial Service, said digital transformation was critical to “local government of the future”. It said purchasing strategies must demonstrate that consideration has been given to commercial and technology aspects, as well as contractual limitations.

“Having a clear purchasing strategy can help you understand what components, resources, support and delivery mechanisms you need,” said the report.

“It will also help you decide whether you want to build, buy or use a combined approach to deliver your technology project or programme and how to achieve the best social value for money.”

The report recommended buyers consider options for automation, develop evidence of good decision-making, understand total cost of ownership, and make arrangements to manage any legacy technology.

The report said councils should:

1. Define user needs. This includes conducting user research, testing assumptions, data analysis and understanding user experience.

2. Use open-source software and open standards. This improves transparency, flexibility and accountability but organisations should evaluate if open-source solutions are appropriate and whether there are in-house skills to develop and maintain the codebase.

3. Share, reuse and collaborate. This avoids duplication of effort and unnecessary costs by sharing and reusing technology, data, and services. “In technology procurement, aggregating your demand with others who have a similar requirement has a proven track record of generating cost savings for local authorities,” said the report.

The report went on: “Digital transformation is playing a key role in creating the local government of the future. One where increased and improved use of technology can help evolve public services and meet the needs of communities more effectively and efficiently.

“The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the use of digital tools in accessing council services and this trend looks set to continue as more citizens are always connected and expect access to services on a 24/7 basis.”

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