Post the CSR announcements the pressure on local government budgets have never been so challenging. Many councils up and down the country have been transforming services to deliver great efficiencies whilst improving the quality of services to the resident.
It’s worth mentioning that these cost savings were delivered alongside an improving record of right-first-time delivery, and significant improvement in customer service. So what lessons can councils take from this transformation programme?
The truth about transformation is that councils need to understand there is no single catalyst for transformation – no one activity that will deliver success. Instead, a realistic local authority will grasp that change of significant scale and scope is a long, hard journey – and will prepare accordingly.
It’s vital that those who have the responsibility for delivering transformation get the full backing of the council’s leadership – both senior officers and members – in pulling together a team that has the right skills and experience to get the job done. Bringing in the support of transformation experts to plan and execute the necessary change not only gives peace of mind to the council but helps de-risk the programme, which will get the best possible outcome.
Every local authority will have many factors that affect its costs and it’s impossible to address all of them at once. The council and the transformation experts need to plan a series of structured projects that will work on the following cost-driver combinations: Probably people are the most important area to transform, as people are usually an organisation’s biggest cost. Changing people’s behaviour is crucial to getting the most from a workforce and the investment made in it. Procurement process and expenditure on partners and suppliers typically makes up the next big chunk of the cost base.
The council can achieve significant savings by looking into supplier rationalisation, and ways of working more effectively with partners. Reducing the IT estate (and its associated costs), while delivering flexible working tools and environments to people across their organisation, allows the council to cut the amount of physical space needed.
Moving legacy systems to the cloud allows the council to cut the expense of providing support across their organisation’s network. It also gives them the opportunity to take on a range of new technologies at lower costs.
Processes can have a significant impact on an organisation’s cost base. Simplifying and standardising them across an organisation yields significant savings, reducing costs and improving the services on offer.
BT Group offers unique solutions tested within our own organization – it has achieved savings of around £1bn a year, driven by a strong central team, leading a focused programme with the right top-level sponsorship.
Michael White is local government partnership director, BT Global Services, and former leader of Havering LBC