The council of the future

by Becky Davis - Head of Customer & Organisation Transformation, UK Government Consulting | minutes read

Half an hour outside of London in Hertfordshire, a digital experiment is underway which could form a blueprint for the future of public services.

Broxbourne Borough Council serves just under 100,000 people but it has emerged as a leading innovator in digital services.

Its embrace of technology means it was better placed than most of its contemporaries to keep vital services running during the Coronavirus lockdown.

Now it is determined to use its current temporary model of working as a future template for business as usual and show other local authorities how they can deliver public services, which meet people’s demands in a better, more efficient way.

Our consultants at Sopra Steria started out with Broxbourne on its digital transformation journey in 2018. It was typical of the vast majority of public authorities – the way it delivered many services hadn’t changed as fast as the lives of the people of the community.

People have precious little time and organise much of it through their mobile phones, and when they had to interact with their local services, whether face-to-face, online or by phone, it wasn’t as easy as it should be.

Broxbourne shared the frustration of the public and decided something had to change if they were to keep up.

That is when they brought us in. The team at Sopra Steria are specialists in digital transformation and we worked with Broxbourne to redesign a range of service, both public facing and internal.

This ambitious vision was complex and impacted on all 30 service areas and 500 employees. A historic lack of investment in IT across the council meant that a new digital infrastructure and a more joined up way of working was urgently needed.

So, we set to work, emboldened by the commitment of our Broxbourne partners. In under a year, the Council was transformed.

A member of the public walking through the doors at Broxbourne is now welcomed into a new customer reception and met by self-serving technology.

It has a new state-of-the-art digital platform to support its website, digital services and customer management system. So far, 159 new digital services have been created.

But, more than just meeting digital demand, it is now driving it. An ambitious programme to change public behaviour has driven a 69 per cent increase in public take up of the new digital services.

The over-65s in Broxbourne – once thought to be the most resistant to change – have increased their usage of the website by 117 per cent.

Council employees have warmly embraced the changes, they’ve received training and have adapted to new ways of delivering services. Broxbourne’s bold, modern approach and embrace of digital ways of working has helped employees maintain public services in the current crisis.

Sopra Steria was able to move employees online, smoothly and securely. It has been such a success that the leadership at Broxbourne are seriously looking at creating a new working model for employees, offering flexibility and convenience.

If replicated in other local authorities, it could create a more efficient, responsive generation of public services.

Broxbourne could soon become a go-to destination for council leaders and policy experts looking to create the digital councils of the future.

Watch our latest video

Learn more about the digital transformation programme at Broxbourne Borough Council in an interview between Becky Davis, Head of Customer & Organisation Transformation, for UK Government Consulting at Sopra Steria, and Sandra Beck, Director of Finance at Broxbourne Borough Council.

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