Standardising digital transformation across the capital
Source: PSE Dec/Jan 17
Previously part of the Government Digital Service (GDS) transformation programme, Natalie Taylor now works at London’s City Hall as senior manager for Digital Transformation. She gives PSE an update on the changes taking place at the Greater London Authority (GLA) and how it is implementing the Local Government Digital Service Standard.
There is a real role for City Hall to play in helping to promote and implement a Local Government Digital Service Standard (LGDSS) across London Councils, PSE has been told.
Speaking to us, Natalie Taylor, senior manager for digital transformation at City Hall, noted that local authorities across the capital are at varying levels of digital maturity.
But Taylor added that the LGDSS, developed by LocalGov Digital, is an exciting opportunity to spread learning and promote a proven way of working across councils in London.
In an attempt to bolster these efforts, City Hall and Camden Council came together earlier this year to co-host the London Peer Group for LocalGov Digital. Taylor said that City Hall’s role is to “be the expert, bringing everyone together, and getting momentum behind the LGDSS”.
Through the new peer group, Taylor hopes that City Hall will be able to get buy-in for the LGDSS from council CEOs as well as leadership teams.
“It will help users, it will save you money and make life easier for your staff, and we can help you because we have done it,” she said. “That is why it is so compelling, and it should be compelling to the CEOs. If we work in a similar way that GDS worked with departments and show them by demonstrating how you get good value for money and can share code, there are huge opportunities.
“For example, it would be silly for 25 councils to go out and build their own parking app, when they could all be sharing one. I don’t think anyone can argue with that.
“I think having the standard, which talks about opening up code and sharing and working to the same standards and design patterns, is written in a nice plain way that we should be able to communicate to senior leaders across councils.”
Changes at GLA
As well as promoting the LGDSS, Taylor discussed the major changes that have taken place at the GLA since she started, including the launch of a new London.gov.uk website.
After initially identifying some disjoints in the working processes at GLA, with teams not working in agile ways or doing continuous testing, Taylor implemented a change process to promote GDS ways of working.
“It was really successful,” she said. “We launched a private beta of the site in spring 2015, and we went to public beta in the summer.
“We used the feedback to constantly improve on what users wanted. We brought stakeholders along to come in to the labs at GDS, and see how people interact with the information and products.
“We’ve been on a journey to get GLA to think about users. We have also run ‘digital master classes’ where we would invite people to learn about SEO, analytics, accessibility and writing for the web.
“Now the business is starting to understand that their digital presence is their mouthpiece to opening up the work of the mayor of London and the London Assembly.”
While identifying that digital transformation has been a long journey for City Hall, Taylor added that there are tremendous opportunities to share learning.
She also noted that there is a programme of work underway to reduce the number of separate microsites, to ensure a consistent brand and user experience, bringing everything under the London.gov.uk umbrella.
“We did a review that found approximately 50 microsites, not part of London.gov.uk, branded differently and it was an inconsistent user experience, which dilutes the brand and means missed opportunities for cross-promotion,” said Taylor. “This big piece of microsite consolidation work started earlier this year and will continue for the next 12 months.”
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