A must-read survey for council leaders, now in its second year, reveals a strong desire to digitally transform operations in local government despite internal roadblocks.
The recently released Digital Transformation Index Report for Local Government 2022 – an initiative from TechnologyOne and Local Government Professionals Australia – surveyed local government leaders across Australia and New Zealand during August 2022.
Findings conclude that digital transformation for local government is only increasing in urgency. The majority of surveyed councils are either implementing, or in the process of implementing, a defined digital or business transformation strategy (42%) or have a defined SaaS migration strategy (37%). This is a sharp increase from the previous survey where only 13% said they had any strategy in place.
“To see statistics like this is very positive,” says Peter Suchting, Local Government Industry Director, TechnologyOne.
“It indicates a commitment from local government to quality software to improve operational efficiency and employee experience. By simplifying things – creating one integrated solution, one source of truth, one tech partnership for end-to-end process support – councils will experience the most profound improvement to their operations in decades. That’s what best-in-class digital transformation can achieve.”
While the uptake of digital has undoubtedly been fuelled by the pandemic, the insights from this year’s report uncover another compelling reason for the acceleration: the customers.
An overwhelming 76% of council respondents believe their customers want them to be more progressive by transforming digitally and 34% say that customer experience is on their list of considerations. This percentage sits well above other factors, such as compliance, cyber security (at just 11%) or reducing operating costs.
“This insight tells us that local government cannot exist in a vacuum – councils are just as susceptible to outside influences as any other business,” Peter explains. “In many ways, councils need to lead by example, which means harnessing the power of the cloud and showing others how to do it properly.”
Despite an awareness within council that going digital is an inevitable move, many councils are struggling from within. The top internal challenges outlined by respondents include change management, the impact on key business resources and access to skilled digital resources.
“We can see from the report that there are still many councils attempting to transform digitally without the resources to assist them,” Peter says.
“For example, only 10% of respondents employ a dedicated director or manager for digital transformation, although this is a percentage we expect to see increase. Local government is learning that it is very difficult to progress transformation without a leader or expert to take them on that journey.”
When looking at the best-in-class councils for digital transformation, you see characteristics such as an effective strategy and roadmap that everyone endorses, the introduction of a comprehensive change management strategy for ensuring smooth implementation and happy users, and both initial and ongoing training to respond to staff churn.
“There’s a lot of pressure in councils,” Peter concludes. “Despite the fallacy that working in the public service is ‘cushy’, the reality is the opposite – councils are under a lot of pressure to transform and become digital leaders. We’ve definitely seen an improvement in digital uptake since the last survey, and we’re positive the next survey will demonstrate even further digital maturation for the sector.”
To discover more insights on the digital state of play in local councils, download the 2022 TechnologyOne Local Government Digital Transformation Index Report.