LGDSS an important key in the transformation toolkit
Source: PSE Dec/Jan 17
Paul Ward, head of ICT strategy, systems and development for Coventry City Council, explains how the local authority is using the Local Government Digital Service Standard (LGDSS) to deliver more user-friendly services.
Coventry City Council, like many other local government organisations across the country, is on a transformation journey, and is looking to push more services online through its customer portal and digital offering.
Paul Ward, head of ICT strategy, systems and development at the local authority, has told PSE that a key to helping with this work has been the adoption of the LGDSS.
Launched by LocalGov Digital in April 2016, the LGDSS suggests a common approach to creating good-quality, user-centred digital services.
“It came along at an opportune time for us,” said Ward. “We were redesigning our website and introducing a new customer portal, at about the same time the LocGov Digital guys were putting out calls to people that might be interested in using the local standard.
“We’d already picked up on the Government Digital Standard, and were using that. But when the LGDSS came along we thought ‘let’s get on board and get involved’.
“It has become a fundamental part of our transformation work, and we use it as something that underpins all of our customer portal design work. We use the LGDSS for some guiding principles, and we are also using it in the redesign of our HR process, particularly in some of our recruitment processes.”
He noted that in the recruitment process people have even been asked questions about the first point in the standard: ‘Understanding user needs’.
“One of the things the service standard opens you up more to is the early engagement with users, so what is the best practice way of doing that,” said Ward.
The standard also provides some structure, he noted, and Coventry now uses it for all of the business cases which require new IT developments.
“We are asking them to consider the 15 points of the LGDSS and where their thinking meets the needs of those points,” explained Ward, adding that by doing this the standard also works as a prioritisation tool.
“Most local government organisations are in the same boat in terms of the challenges that we face,” he told us. “We are all trying to do more with less, in particular with doing more services online, we are trying to be more creative. We are trying to offer the best level of services to our customers at a time when services are at their tightest.
“To us, the LGDSS came across as best practice to help deliver this. Certainly, for anyone doing transformation in local government it is a key part of their toolbox for them to use. It really does help give some useful guidance in terms of how to do transformation.”
Opportunities for regional developments
Discussing his work with the LocGov Digital Midlands regional peer group, Ward said that there is a “lot of commonality in the room”.
“Also, it is good to share some practice,” he explained. “It is good to highlight how the standard is being used in different organisations. It can be difficult to go from very waterfall-based traditional IT projects to something a bit more inclusive and more about the user.
“But the LGDSS does fit in with that. It brings the user right to the heart of that design, and makes sure you give all the considerations to running your service. It must be accessible for all, and be designed around the 21st century needs of our users rather than, perhaps, the legacy need of some of our services previously.”
Ward told us that he is passionate about Local Government as a Platform, and that “if we start to standardise, certainly within the combined authority, in terms of looking to use the LGDSS as a platform for delivery of services, then it really does open up the doors”.
He explained that there is no reason, if all the local authorities are pushing in the same direction, why online offerings couldn’t be developed over the whole combined authority area.
“We are talking a few years away now, but it is on the radar,” Ward said. “The economies of scale really start to come out when you start to look at it in that way.”
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