Centralising print communications and sharing data could unlock cash savings
We have recently completed a survey of senior management in local authorities in conjunction with the Municipal Journal looking at how local authorities can achieve savings in the current climate by operating more effectively.
Citizen communications are currently quite costly with many departments working in silos and according to our research 70% are still spending over £500,000 on print communications with 26.7% spending between £1-2million.
Although produced in lower volumes, communication such as personalised correspondence, benefit entitlement letters and council tax statements are often complex and manually intensive to create and distribute, placing a huge administrative cost on local authority resources.
However, 86% of those surveyed are considering efficiencies within print communication when reviewing areas of cost saving, and centralising print communications is one way to achieve this. This is positive feedback from local authorities in trying to ensure that frontline services are not impacted and centralising print is an opportunity to consolidate and unlock on-going cash savings.
In insolation, centralising print communications may sound like it is not of particular importance when compared with other priorities the public sector currently has to deliver. However, consider that it accounts for up to 3 per cent of an organisation's turnover and could also be the starting point for a much bigger project to improve citizen engagement, and it suddenly appears a higher priority.
For example local authorities have many different forms of citizen data that sit in several different departmental databases leading to unnecessary duplication and no unified picture of the truth. 66% of those surveyed are considering or currently undertaking a project to consolidate their databases for the benefit of the organisation, while 63% believe the ability to access, view and share this data across the organisation is imperative in making the organisation more efficient and improve citizen services.
Yet there is still work to be done to achieve this shared vision of citizen data with only 30% of those surveyed actually already doing so.
We are clearly at the beginning of the journey and the anecdotal feedback from the survey stating the desired outcome is to achieve £1million savings by the end of 2013/14 can only really start to be achieved by looking at securing back office efficiencies.
Alex Mathieson is from Pitney Bowes Software.
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