Digitisation of council services: a leap-of-faith with vast benefits

ProQuest Consulting

March 23, 2022

In February, the Service Transformation Innovation webinar brought together public servants and digitisation specialists from around the country to explore the vast benefits of digital service consolidation. Here we break down the key learnings that emerged from discussions at the webinar.

Moderated by James Enoch, Director Local and State Government, Salesforce, the webinar
featured panellists Simon Adcock, Manager Customer, Information and Technology Service,
Wollondilly Shire Council; Clive Roberts, Director, ProQuest Consulting, Santosh Kumar Sriram,
Head of Consulting and Technology, ProQuest Consulting; and Aymeric Zito, CEO, ProQuest
Consulting.

Councils already seeing the efficiencies of digital services
Digitisation of council services is already offering immediate benefits to participating councils, improving citizen communication and service delivery experiences, as well as empowering public sector employees to finally overcome frustrating inefficiencies in their daily work.

Santosh Kumar Sriram, Head of Consulting and Technology, ProQuest Consulting, offered an example
of a basic citizen request – namely, the removal of a fallen tree from a front yard – as a use- case to highlight the communication inefficiencies faced by citizens and council staff when stuck with an outdated service delivery model.

Santosh explained how a transformed and digitalised service model, powered by a modern
integrated platform, could streamline communication between stakeholders, and even automate processes that were delaying positive citizen outcomes. “Overall, this new ticketing system enhances internal efficiency and introduces a seamless experience that your citizens will enjoy on a day-on-day basis,” Santosh said.

Case study: a digitisation win in Wollondilly Shire Council
Simon Adcock, Manager Customer, Information and Technology Service, Wollondilly Shire
Council, shared his own case study of council licensing of private sewage systems to highlight the massive benefits of service digitisation. Simon explained that as Wollondilly Shire Council has a large rural area, about half of residents are not connected to the sewage system, instead relying on on-site systems. “Managing the licensing for those on-site systems, making sure that they are inspected by a qualified inspector regularly, and billing for payment for those services took two full-time employees to run a manual process,” Simon said.

The solution for Wollondilly Shire Council was to transform this time-consuming process into an automated, digital workflow run via Salesforce, a dynamic and highly adaptable service delivery platform.

“We automated the scheduled billing so that billing goes out without any need for touch from the staff,” Simon said.

“We automated the issuing of licences so as soon as an inspection has been made and the licence has been paid, it simply automatically turns up in the post for these people.”

A compelling financial case
Simon also shared the powerful financial success story behind Wollondilly Shire Council’s recent partnership with Salesforce.

For a proof of concept of just $50,000, Simon estimated that the switch to a digital model for Council’s sewage system licensing service has already delivered savings that exceed $350,000 annually.

These savings reflect how Salesforce has already automated manual work for staff, streamlined and reduced customer service requests through a digital channel, and even allowed field staff to lodge their work digitally, saving countless hours of commute time from inspection sites to the office.

“The good news for us is that we are simply just getting started,” Simon said. “There are numerous more use cases available to Council, and this is a huge opportunity for us to use the system that we already own, that we already understand, to make those savings through automation.”

Building internal champions of digitisation
When it comes to getting council employees to take the leap-of-faith and become champions of digitisation, Simon believes it is beneficial to first target those teams that are most desperate for an improved service model. “Our internal customers were in so much pain from the amount of work they were doing because of the inefficiency of their processes that they were crying out for digital solutions,” Simon said.

“We focused on those people who were having the most pain and we worked with those particular parts of the business to introduce them to Salesforce and the possibilities that it had to offer.”

“My advice is to find a partner within the business that’s particularly willing to help, and once you’ve got those benefits for that part of the business, then it simply sells itself to the rest of the business.”

Aymeric Zito, CEO, ProQuest Consulting, agreed with Simon’s advice about looking to those people most frustrated by inefficiencies in their workload, further adding that it’s important to identify who is going to be your digital champion.”

“You need champions that can get the message around that the transformation is working – that it’s worth the effort,” Aymeric said.

All too often field workers have to write things on paper and wait to get home to finally put the information in the system – doing that every day is draining. When you bring the technology that can solve their problem, you basically change their life.”

How external partnerships optimise new digital services
James Enoch, Director, Local and State Government, Salesforce, noted that citizen expectations of digitalised services are rising, making the case that external support from the right partner organisation is invaluable for councils taking digital services to new heights.

Aymeric drew on ProQuest’s experience of working with the likes of Transport Canberra and City Services to explain why most organisations undergoing a digital transformation require the help of an external partner for multiple reasons, the first simply being getting ready. “Getting ready means mapping your existing processes and understanding where you can implement efficiencies and automation.” “Having an external eye on these processes is very helpful because right from the get-go, even without the technology, you can start optimising who does what, how you interact with citizens and give everyone a better experience.” “From there it’s about implementation; with experts and technology like Salesforce, you get
value delivered very quickly.” “Partners like ProQuest bring experience and domain knowledge on what needs to be done – and how Salesforce can help at every step of the way.” “That will allow you to fast track the entire process and start getting value as soon as possible.”

Clive Roberts, Director, ProQuest Consulting, added that external partners like ProQuest and Salesforce offer important expertise when it comes to optimising digital services for reusability throughout an organisation. “I think a key thing is to also make sure that we’re reusing existing software assets that should remain core. We are not looking to replace GIS systems like ArcGIS or asset management systems such as Assetic.” “Where Salesforce really sings is building flexible processes with a modern user interface, while integrating other applications into the flow and building those reusable integration services.”

Simon concluded the seminar discussion by sharing his own perspective on the importance
of reusability for councils. “At the end of the day even though a council does a huge number of different services you’ll find that these processes are very similar: a customer makes a request for a service either
through a form or through a telephone call, or email.” “That works its way through to the business, there’s payment, there’s communication with the customer and there’s all the automation of the workflow as it goes to the business.” “There’s huge potential to write a process once and just simply reuse it for many other use cases.”

Making the digital leap of faith
In summary, councils that embrace a digital service model, like Wollondilly Shire, are
discovering vast benefits, from easing internal staff workloads through process automation,
to offering a smoother service experience for the community.

With external partner organisations like Salesforce and ProQuest ready to help councils
optimise their new digital work model, there has never been an easier time for councils to
take the digital leap of faith.

To learn more about the benefits your council can see through digitisation, please contact
info@proquestit.com.

This content was brought to you by Monkey Media – see here

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