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Digital change is driving how organisations interact with customers and is also leading to a change in business models across Public Services and Local Authorities. Traditional services are being transformed by introducing digital front end processes, self-service portals and digitalised operational activities.

Changing citizen demands

Citizens want to interact with their Local Councils as they would their bank or their grocery store – using online channels at a time and place they control rather than re-arranging their schedules to travel to an office during business hours.

Services such as online motor tax have seen more than 50% of transactions now taking place online, the renewal of library books online and parking permits is becoming more mainstream. Citizens will increasingly demand the ability to complete transactions with their Local Council online with services.

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Accessibility for citizens through digital channels

Many authorities still offer services across an array of channels and locations including traditional channels with multiple service counters and fax machines. As customer preferences change an opportunity exists to simplify the channels authorities offer to their citizens. Dedicated customer contact centres offer a more consistent and efficient interaction for citizens whilst allowing other staff to concentrate on the provision of services.

Self-service and online forums are becoming more common for many UK Councils as Citizens interact with their Local Council and each other. It is anticipated that citizens will drive this level of digital change across Irish Council services particularly in relation to residents committees, planning forums, traffic and roadworks.

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Building the right knowledge base for the future

Retirements and the moratorium on recruitment since the start of the recession have seen a loss of skills and knowledge in many areas. Continued funding challenges make it likely that further swathes of experience and organisational knowledge are at risk of being lost to Councils. The average age of Council staff nationally is 51, three quarters of staff are likely to retire in the next twenty years. Councils need to ensure succession planning is underway to reliable service provision.

A knowledge retention program can make a real difference for a Council, enabling the organisation to tap into knowledge banks (such as coaching and mentoring programmes, data capture initiatives and digitalisation projects) before key staff leave the organisation.

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Work coordination and sequencing

Local Authorities are facing challenges in relation to succession planning and knowledge capture. The combination of digital tools and connected devices allows Local Authorities to capture information, plan and prioritise work more easily and efficiently. This allows greater visibility of the work performed by Council staff but also allows work to be sequenced in planned across teams and services.

Transforming paper-based recording processes to digital will enable more accurate, less expensive and faster capture of information. Forms like daily check sheets and inspection forms and the paper mountains they create can be eradicated. It will also enable the freeing up of floor space as records become digitalised or archived.

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Greater levels of reporting

With the introduction of direct funding of Councils by citizens through the Local Property Tax, it is important for Councils to be able to provide insights about how resources are being used and what services are being provided to citizens. Value for money and access to services is becoming a priority for citizens.

Open Data means making data available in a standard, consumable way for others to use. Open data enables and demonstrates transparency by making available data that can be shared, often free of charge, and has few restrictions on its use.

Councils, both in Ireland and overseas, have seen the rewards of opening their data to external developers. Civic-minded organisations and developers have re-used public information in novel ways to provide additional services or enhanced information to citizens.

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Skills for the digital age

Digital technology and culture is evolving fast and has already had a significant impact on the way Local Government supports the delivery of services to citizens. Local Authorities need to use it as a tool to drive innovation in their understanding of people and place, how they interact with citizens, foster the interaction of citizens with each other, and in exploring how outcomes can be better secured.

The Digital interactions demands a different mind-set and set of skills, training and upskilling programmes need to reflect these new ways of working.

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Cloud computing

The rise of efficient and scalable cloud computing services has enabled many organisations to reduce their expenditure on IT while improving the tools available to their staff. Shifting systems and services to cloud services allows authorities to simplify their IT infrastructure while providing up-to-date and flexible tools to staff.

The use of cloud services facilitates new and alternative ways of working for staff such as hot-desking, remote and mobile working.

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How can we help?

Choosing to pursue digital opportunities is just the first step in a digital transformation journey for your Council. PwC can help you with the challenges you face in realising the benefits achievable.

Amongst the services we provide are:

  • Digital Fitness Assessment
  • Digital Strategy Development
  • Digital Opportunity Identification
  • Operating Model Transformation
  • Customer-focused Transformation
  • Risk Assurance Services for Cloud Computing
  • Digital Enterprise & System Architecture
  • Cyber and Information Security

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Contact us

Michael McDaid

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 7950

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