Local government is trying to keep up with the changing demands of consumers, but is challenged by a lack of skilled resources, clear leadership and financial collaboration, according to a new report by KPMG Enterprise and the Public Sector Network.
The Customer and Technology Transformation in Local Government report is compiled from responses from 228 attendees at the Public Sector Network’s Local Government Transformation Series in Australia and New Zealand. Participants were asked about their top three focus areas for transformation, how they were progressing, and what challenges they faced.
Close to 100 percent of respondents said that improving customer experience, digitisation and modernising technology were the three prime focus areas for transformation. This included adoption of sophisticated data analytics to capture customer information.
Just over half of survey respondents (51 percent) said their council is in strategy or business case development for their transformation programs while 37 percent of survey respondents stated they were in operational roll out.
There were also variations across the states:
Toni Jones, Partner and Local Government Lead, KPMG Enterprise, commented: "Council ‘customers’ are used to obtaining information, goods and more at the click of a button. They increasingly compare and expect the same personalised experience from their interaction with councils that they get from other public and private sector providers. To provide citizens with the customer experience they expect, councils need to be seamlessly connected from front office to back. To do this, a holistic approach is vital, right from the business case stage."
Despite an effort to transform, the report identified ongoing inefficiencies on digital channels. Many forms are digital on one end only, and a lot of manual work is still required throughout the organisation to process them, resulting in a higher cost to serve. The ability to fix this lies in how to achieve connection, and straight through processing from the front end (website), all the way through to the back office (such as customer relationship management, rating system, payments gateway, finance system and document management).
When asked about the challenges faced, 100 percent of respondents identified a lack of adequately skilled resources as the largest drawback in successfully operationalising their transformation programs, while 97 percent identified this as the second largest challenge. This was followed by lack of clear leadership (83 percent) and insufficient financial collaboration to deliver the program of work (53 percent).
Almost half cited difficulties in sourcing procurement partners, which were also cited as obstacles to success. There were again regional differences, with NSW citing leadership and procurement as significant challenges, while 86 percent of SA respondents said financial collaboration was an issue.
"The successful delivery of transformation programs requires bringing together a range of unique skills sets across a variety of disciplines. Councils which can tap into both internal and external resources will be the ones that overcome both availability issues and the lack of in-house technical skills," says Toni Jones.
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The Customer and Technology Transformation in Local Government Report was compiled based on the Public Sector Network’s Local Government Transformation Series of events for LGA professionals held across six cities in Australia and New Zealand in May 2019. Attendees at the series were surveyed regarding their transformation journey. Overall, 228 responses were received.
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