North Lanarkshire Council – Exemplar Blueprint for Digital Local Government in Scotland
This G-Cloud RFP defined North Lanarkshire Council’s request for a system integrator to help realize their digital vision.
Via their digital strategy document they describe a compelling vision for Local Government digital transformation:
“North Lanarkshire Council has the ambition to be a leading Scottish Local Authority. To deliver services to customers and businesses using modern platforms and technology, across a range of channels, to meet changing customer demand.
The technology which underpins the change, service redesign and delivery for North Lanarkshire must be flexible, scalable, and able to evolve quickly to support new services, new working styles and integrate with, or take advantage of, new, disruptive, relevant technologies as they mature.”
This will be achieved through a Digital Delivery Model that encapsulates the use of technologies such as data analytics, CRM, RPA, Identity, IoT and Office 365, and the transformation work to migrate to them from legacy systems.
Cloud-powered digital transformation
Examining some of the component parts we can see the differing capabilities sought and the benefits expected from them. For example a migration of legacy systems to new Cloud-based alternatives is a key theme, including personal collaboration:
“A key part of the transformation is to build digital capabilities through cloud, a digital platform and a collaboration suite”
This is to achieve heightened staff productivity through more mobile working:
“Files are stored in the Cloud; chat platforms enable staff to communicate with one another and maintain a record of conversations. Workers are highly mobile and not tied to Council offices creating less need for public buildings.”
and also to play a central role in achieving more integrated business systems:
“Move the existing IT systems integrations to the cloud and invest in a strategic, cloud based integration solution which is the central, controlled conduit for automation of information transferral around the Council;”
The foundation role of digital identity in achieving this system integration is defined:
“The change in delivery model requires that identity is paramount to secure solutions;
Establish single indexes for people, place and staff to allow many applications to leverage these single sources of truth. The indexes would replace our current master data management tool with a more flexible, technically aligned solution;”
RPA for Local Government
They articulate a case for RPA for Local Government, where they describe:
“The back office is fully digitised. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a common feature at the Council, taking over repetitive rules-based tasks e.g. invoice payments.”
as part of a general adoption of AI capabilities across the Council:
” artificial intelligence (AI) can already be used to respond to customer queries through chatbot features or even virtual assistants. By 2029, it is predicted AI will be at about the same level of intelligence as adult humans. This technology and others unlock possibilities for delivering services in radically different ways – if we invest in the necessary infrastructure.
“the use of data analytics, predictive algorithms to identify, analyse, and anticipate problems. Services such as infrastructure, customer contact, waste and welfare are responsive to North Lanarkshire customers and proactively respond to them, where necessary, based on data driven decision making.”
Building a Local Digital Ecosystem
We can also view this project within an overall strategic context of Scotland’s overall needs and sector plans, in particular the intersection with the ambitions to build an Integrated Health and Social Care ecosystem, the details of which are explained through two key reports from the Auditor General : Local Government in Scotland: Challenges and performance 2019, and Health and Social Care integration: Update on progress.
In short what these reports describe is the need for different government agencies to no longer work in isolated silos, but instead form the component parts of an overall single digital ecosystem, very effectively conveyed in visual form by Angie Sparks in her tweet:
— Angie Sparks (@DoctoraChispas) March 27, 2019
North Lanarkshire describes features of this ecosystem:
“Digital platforms support flexible and rapid improvements and support customers and businesses to connect more effectively. Connections to other websites (e.g. Blue Badges) pull in information on all past appointments and interactions from the Local Health partnership and there are links to an ecosystem of third party apps (e.g. sharing tools, volunteering, social meetups) and to paid-for services (e.g. tutors, dieticians, personal trainers). NLC acts as a broker, linking people to third party support that they can benefit from.”
in particular how it will act as a broker, to enable cross-organization virtual collaboration teams:
“NLC is highly networked with other organisations – Multi-agency working is the norm. Council services – and often partners too – share a digital platform, so much of their data is shared instantly. As a result, NLC now organise around particular problems as we need to tackle them – teams are highly strategic, fluid entities that form into teams based on local needs. NLC works closely with experts, customers and innovators to generate new ideas. For instance, rapid response teams form for fixed periods to address specific cross-cutting challenges. Direct service provision by the Council is priority based as NLC acts more as a broker.”
with the primary capability for enabling this being a new Case Management solution, one that replaces their existing legacy system.
“Standardise on a single, comprehensive case management solution that allows internal and external service requests to be tracked across the Council, regardless of entry point or line of service. This will replace the existing Lagan Case Management solution;”
Lagan is installed across many councils and so in conclusion what we’re seeing from North Lanarkshire is the definition of a digital transformation strategy for Scottish Local Councils that can act as an exemplar blueprint – Both in terms of well articulated high level vision and also the practical steps required to achieve it.