Theme 1: Digital Council
We will optimise how the council uses digital design, data and technology to work efficiently, collaborate, make informed decisions, adapt and innovate.
“Digital is something you are, not something you do. It’s about how you think, how you behave, what you value, and what drives decisions in your organisation.”
Our desired outcomes:
- All council staff have fit for purpose corporate technology and line of business systems which facilitate rather than constrain their work, which work well together, are resilient and can be changed rapidly to meet their users’ changing needs
- All council staff make effective use of cloud collaboration and productivity software to communicate, safely share and store information, and work with increasing efficiency
- All council staff can work effectively from anywhere, including fast and reliable network and telephony access in all council-owned buildings across the borough, and suitable assistive technology for staff who need it
- All technology-related projects in the council provide value for money, have clearly defined outcomes, meet quality and cybersecurity standards, and are managed well
- The council has a full understanding of its total expenditure on digital, data and technology and the return on this investment, and is reducing this total over time
- All council staff are confident in their wider digital skills and understanding, including agile delivery methods, user- centric service design, data literacy and GDPR, cybersecurity, online engagement and working in the open
- All council staff can and do access data intelligence and have the knowledge, support and skills to manage and use data legally and ethically, to measure service performance, predict and anticipate demand, and make well-informed decisions
- The council’s political and executive leadership exemplify and champion digital expertise and culture including user- centred design, agile methods and working in the open
- All council staff can find internal guidance and information quickly and easily on the council’s intranet, and are digitally engaged in leadership decisions
Where we are now
As set out in the ICT Sourcing Strategy paper to Cabinet in November 2017, we have made significant progress in recent years to equip council staff and members with flexible, modern equipment and software, while delivering multi-million pound savings and mitigating cybersecurity risks. We can be proud that we have some of the best IT of any council.
Our ambitious ICT transformation programme proposed in that same paper is now nearing completion, and has successfully delivered a more flexible, multi-vendor technology ecosystem for the council’s core, corporate technology. This forward- thinking transformation is the bedrock for all our future digital ambitions, meets principle 2 of the Local Digital Declaration (“fix the plumbing”), and is regarded as an exemplar by many of our local government peers. The council now has more control over quality of service for all technology we currently use and the ability to respond more rapidly to changes.
Across the council, we also make use of hundreds of line of business systems which enable our organisation to function and our workforce to deliver public services. We have powerful tools at our disposal for data intelligence and reporting, an emerging Business Intelligence Strategy, a number of dashboards and a growing capability in developing and using them to manage performance metrics, predict issues and inform policy decisions.
However, current expenditure on digital, data and technology initiatives is spread across departments, making it challenging to get a true total cost of investment. The quality of our delivery is variable, and there is considerable duplication and inefficiency as well as usability challenges across our software estate. Like all councils, we have a sprawling portfolio of legacy applications and databases, built in a pre-digital era and often unfit to support modern online services. We also continue to operate a high number of paper-based and manual processes, and there is significant potential for the council to achieve savings, higher staff satisfaction and provide better services for residents from digitising more of our internal operations.
Going forward, we need to improve capability across the council to make the best use of the equipment and software we already have. We need to improve governance and visibility over IT spend in delegated budget lines, establishing stronger controls to ensure value for money and standards assurance. We need a clear architectural vision that will enable us to reduce the complexity and size of our back-office software estate and reduce duplication over time, and to increase use of Software as a Service models so that we only pay for what we need. Where practical, we need to begin using service design methods for our back office systems, to improve usability for council staff, and adopt a more agile, digital culture across the organisation that places user needs at the heart of how we choose, buy, build and implement technology in the council and how we design our internal processes.
What we will do
To move forward in this area, we will:
- Develop a clear architectural vision for all council technology systems, working towards an irreducible core of specialist applications and shared components that provide common functions once, integrated through APIs, using cloud and Software as a Service solutions wherever possible
- Put in place a new, robust governance framework to ensure all changes to technology across the council are fit-for- purpose, cost-effective, secure, in line with the architectural vision and meet the government’s Technology Code of Practice and Service Standard; and to get clarity on the council’s total spend on technology
- Re-tender our (recently disaggregated) corporate ICT contracts every few years to ensure best value and service, and diversify our supplier base including buying local where possible to do so
- Create permanent capability for transforming major line of business systems, recognising that this is a continuous disrupt the marketplace for these systems
- Conclude the development of our Business Intelligence Strategy and implementation plan to further our use of data- led intelligence across the council, with a particular focus on supporting localities-based service delivery
- Design and run a mandatory learning and development programme and provide ongoing learning opportunities for all staff to increase digital confidence, instill cybersecurity best practices, improve data literacy, awareness and stewardship, and embed a more digital culture including agile methods and working in the open
- Develop digital leadership capability within the council, in line with the Local Digital Declaration, prioritising the corporate leadership team (the top 3 tiers of council officers) and Cabinet members
- Implement a best-of-breed contact centre and enterprise telephony system, ensuring residents can contact and hear from the council reliably and consistently
- Review and improve how we support and train users of corporate and line-of-business software to maximise their effective use, including introducing agile and user centred service design methodologies to optimise the usability of our software
- Seek out opportunities to use new and emerging technologies such as robotic process automation and machine learning to automate low value tasks and improve operational efficiency, freeing up officer time for frontline services to residents
- Review current processes for providing assistive technology for staff with disabilities, ensuring we make the best use of available technology to support all our staff
- Support the council’s communications team to transform the corporate intranet and provide improved tools for internal digital engagement and information-sharing
- Deliver an ongoing portfolio of improvements to council systems, corporate ICT and automation of sub-optimal or paper-based council processes, prioritised on our public roadmap
Indicative dates for priority deliverables
- New governance processes are in place now (July 2019) and will begin to create savings within this financial year and in subsequent years by preventing unnecessary or wasteful spend on technology, while driving up quality and usability for internal users and residents
- Digital leadership development has begun and will continue with digital-themed learning and development days for 30 of the most senior leaders in the council in July and again in autumn 2019. An internal learning programme for all council staff will be in place by December 2019, with the aim that all staff complete mandatory elements by July 2020
- Aprogramme is underway to replace major internal systems used for adults and children’s social care, expected to complete by October 2020, delivering improvements to the quality and efficiency of vital social care services
- We will complete transformation of the council’s telephony systems by March 2020
Check our live, continuously updated roadmap to see specific deliverables, track our progress, offer help or give your feedback to influence what we do next: croydon.digital/roadmap
“I would like to see digital technology used to facilitate open fair and transparent procurement at Croydon Council”
“It would be a great idea to do digital training for staff working in Access Croydon so that they can help residents quicker. Many come in because they do not know how to do certain things on the website and it would be better if we are trained properly.”
“Embrace a culture of agility and acceptable risk taking, find out enough to move forward, write down what needs to be written down, review and learn regularly, without requiring slavish adherence to a methodology”
- Comments from Croydon residents and council staff as part of the online conversation and internal survey that helped shape this strategy