Future Model: how Councils can think differently to meet current and future challenges
Councils have an overwhelming financial challenge. Local authority leaders recently warned Whitehall that the next Spending Review will be ‘make or break’ for frontline services as councils face a funding gap of almost £8bn by 2025. There is little doubt that councils need to find a radical solution to the challenges of increased demand, higher expectations and reduced funding. In our view this requires a fundamental challenge to the current way of working and the introduction of an operating model that is genuinely designed with the customer at its heart.
The challenge of combinations, mergers and shared services adds even more complexity. While shared service delivery models have been encouraged by central government and can no doubt lead to potential benefits, our experience suggests that historically there has been a piecemeal and largely opportunistic approach to sharing services. This is changing and there is a very real shift toward mergers between district councils and the creation of unitary authorities.
Making a fundamental shift
In challenging times lies the opportunity for a fundamental shift in thinking about the way councils operate: to ‘future-proof’ them against the challenges of the modern era without cutting front line services.
Savings of 20-25% can be unlocked through the adoption of a more strategic approach through developing:
- A new organisational model
- Slick customer journeys and processes
- An integrated technology platform
- Flexible staff and culture
The drivers of benefits
Through our experience working with councils, we have identified four key drivers that deliver significant savings and improvements to customer service:
- Demand management (customer enabling): reducing or shaping demand to reduce the level of service required from customers
- Channel shift (self-serve): enabling customers to do more for themselves and reducing council workload in the process
- Efficiency (technology and process improvement): stripping out waste and non-value added activity from journeys and processes
- Remodelling (including agile working): improving productivity and releasing capacity in the organisation through the reallocation of work, workforce optimisation and better workforce practices. This entails a shift of work and knowledge closer to the customer by embedding rule based ‘knowledge’ into processes and scripts, developing agile working and genuinely customer centric attitudes and behaviours.
Many councils will focus on only one or two of these, leaving much of the benefit and saving untapped.
However, we know that by focussing on all four drivers simultaneously, we can generate savings of between 20-25% within two years, with a subsequent benefit from further channel shift as more customers switch channels.
In order to successfully apply the drivers and generate significant savings, Councils must adopt an approach that is enabled by both technology and their own people.
In any successful transformation people are an organisations’ greatest asset and are the key enabler of a new way of working.
Customer centric attitudes need to underpin the new ways of working, supported by; a culture encompassing empowerment, an open and honest approach, trust and respect, knowing when to ask for help, new approaches to team meetings and team support and strong performance management.
In order to shift work forward and ensure customer service teams can maximise effectiveness, the culture needs to embrace effective knowledge transfer, which takes a degree of trust, strong communication and high levels of collaboration across services.
Giving the right support to help staff develop these customer centric attitudes and behaviours and encouraging people to embrace change, empowerment and innovation is essential to embedding change across the organisation.
With 90% of adults in the UK using the internet, and set to rise, a future-proofed solution must incorporate the use of technology to enable genuine self-serve. Not only does this mean a strong customer contact management (CRM) system, which has a customer portal at the front end that enables customers to access services when they want from any location using their own account, but it also means genuine integration and automation of end to end customer journeys, eliminating unnecessary human intervention. This includes linking customer contact and back office systems so that ‘swivel chair integration’ is eliminated (i.e. manual re-entry of data).
The Future Model
While the challenge may seem overwhelming and the complexity of the interacting drivers and key enablers may seem difficult to manage, at Ignite, we have been working for many years with a variety of councils to bring about transformational change that brings together the elements above.
Our challenger model, the Future Model, is a radically different operating model bringing together all the elements necessary for a future-proofed, sustainable Council. It replaces the typical multiple service silos with a customer centric, automated, multi skilled model that delivers savings across the council by having the right roles, with the right skills, doing the right work, at the right time.
Entirely customisable based on organisational need, we can use the key elements to transform a single council, or quickly bring together councils wishing to share services into a single seamless service delivery unit. This approach maintains the sovereignty of councils and creates a single operating organisation using a single technology platform, shared processes, shared organisation structures and teams and harmonised policies.
The Future Model is a new approach for local government. Specifically designed for the sector, it provides long term solutions that benefit customers, staff, the organisation and the community at large.
Want to know more
We work in partnership with Councils, adopting a three-stage approach to Future Model projects. Get in touch today to discuss how we can help