How Coronavirus is accelerating digital transformation in local government

Digital transformation has been “painfully slow” in parts of the UK public sector over past years, says The Institute for Government

By TechnologyOne

03 Sep 2020


While digital services provide tremendous opportunities to transform the daily lives of UK residents and civil servants, slow citizen take-up and the cost of integrating old IT systems has prevented many local councils from achieving this goal, until now.

But the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside technological advances, has changed this and is accelerating digital transformation.

“Coronavirus has fundamentally altered our lives and the role that tech plays within it,” said UK Digital Minister, Oliver Dowden, last month . “It’s turbocharged the digital transformation of almost every part of our days - of our workplaces, our businesses, the way we shop and stay in touch with family, and the way we use public services.”

The growth of cloud-based “Software as a Service,” or SaaS, has been one of the other key enablers for this progress. It’s helping councils rapidly accelerate digital transformation projects.

TechnologyOne, the leading specialist in this field, is helping more than 330 councils in the UK, Australia and New Zealand adapt to change during these challenging times.

As the company’s technology is preconfigured, and delivered remotely via SaaS, councils are able to reduce implementation times and costs, reduce risk, and migrate much faster to new digital services.

“We wanted to spend time challenging the numbers, to get value out of the data and add value to the process." - Dominic Bradley,  head of finance at Horsham District Council.

In England and Wales, TechnologyOne is working with a wide-range of local authorities including Chelmsford City Council , Dover City Council , and Redditch Borough & Bromsgrove District Councils . North of the border the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service has managed to save £340,000 a year, and slash employee workloads, by switching to TechnologyOne. In Northern Ireland, Mid Ulster District Council is embracing next generation, mobile-enabled technology to transform its organisation.

Horsham District Council is another council leading the way implementing cloud-based SaaS services. Located in picturesque rural Sussex, in the South of England, the council provides a large range of services to more than 140,000 residents.

While Horsham has been working with TechnologyOne since 2017 to upgrade its financial systems, it also recently migrated other human resource systems to the cloud.

“Our goal was to modernise, automate and change the culture from heads-down keying in of data to heads-up talking to each other,” says Dominic Bradley, Head of Finance at Horsham District Council.

By upgrading technology, and automating processes, the council has been able to empower employees to focus on more high-level tasks. “We wanted to spend time challenging the numbers, to get value out of the data and add value to the process,” says Bradley.

While it wasn’t a factor in Horsham’s switch to TechnologyOne, the new systems have also future-proofed the council, helping it to cope during the current corona crisis.

“We made a strategic decision to move to SaaS for a number of reasons, none of which included managing through a pandemic,” says Bradley. “We wanted a platform that would allow us to increase the services we provide to our communities and enable us to operate more efficiently.” 

The council is invoicing around 30,000 garden waste collection invoices through the system and all of its 400 employees are able to access human resource systems online, and book their own holiday and sick leave. Horsham now wants to move more of its current systems to SaaS.

At a time when local authorities are coming under more and more budget pressures, the council estimates it has made significant savings by automating processes, improving data accuracy and reducing the size of its accountancy department.

“No one could have anticipated the disruption we’ve experienced over the last few months. But, through it all, we’ve been able to keep our promises to the people of Horsham and continue to play a central role in the community’s response to COVID-19,” says Bradley.

“Using TechnologyOne has helped lay the groundwork—it prepared us for COVID-19. Two or three years ago we couldn’t have suddenly uprooted the team and worked from home as easily,” he adds.

“People now have more flexibility to work at home when they need to, rather than have to be in the office in a traditional nine-to-five way,” says Bradley. “There's certainly been a cultural change. People are working in a different, more agile way.”

To read more on the full story on how Horsham District Council has transformed services by moving to software-as-a-service, download the case study here

Also, listen to Horsham’s Dominic Bradley and Redditch & Bromsgrove District Council’s Chris Forrester discuss how they’re mobilising technology and new ways of working to transform, and develop, organisations of the future through this free TechnologyOne hosted webinar.

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