Which local authorities can show the digital way?
CDPS’s Landscape Review team considered simplicity, impact and sheer volume in choosing ‘exemplar’ council services
5 August 2022
CDPS’s Digital Landscape Review (DLR) has been surveying the state of digital public services in Wales. With the review having come to an end, we’ve been publishing a series of blog posts on the reviews findings. We’ve so far discussed:
- 7 practical challenges for digital services, as the review found them
- the benefits of sharing software among public sector bodies
This post looks at another question the DLR addressed: which local authority services would be easiest to transform.
As this is the last blog post for this stage of the DLR, we’ll also say a bit about what will happen to the team’s findings now we’ve wrapped up.
The DLR team were set one question to answer: which local authority services should be priorities for support to meet the Digital Service Standards for Wales?
Services with most impact
The local authority service landscape in Wales is huge. We began by shortlisting services that:
- had the most users
- were high profile
We selected 7 services, provided by all 22 Welsh local authorities provide, that best fitted these criteria:
- Housing – for example, ‘Apply for housing repair’
- Planning – for example, ‘Apply for planning permission’
- Revenues and benefits – for example, ‘Pay council tax’
- School enrolment – for example, ‘Enrol my child for secondary school’
- Social care – for example, ‘Request a social care and health assessment’
- Street and highway maintenance – for example, ‘Report a pothole’
- Waste collection – for example, ‘Report a missed bin collection’
Simplicity, impact, volume
However, we also wanted to target services that would be good examples of end-to-end digital improvement for other local authorities providing a similar service. (We call such services ‘exemplars’, in the language of digital delivery.)
So we cut our shortlist of 7 down by seeing how well they fit further criteria:
- simplicity – services with more straightforward user journeys are easier to transform
- scalability – services that are similar across local authorities are easier to expand
- quality of life – exemplars should have a significant impact on users’ lives (judged, for example, according to their impact upon lower income groups and how satisfied people are with the service)
- volume – exemplar services can demonstrate their impact better if they have many users
This table shows how the 7 services compare against those 4 exemplar criteria:
- Revenues and benefits scored the highest overall, with a particularly strong rating in complexity and scalability
- Street and highway maintenance scored second highest, with a high score in feasibility
- Waste collection and housing scored strongly on both measures, but slightly lower on scalability
- Social care scored strongest on impact but poorly on feasibility, particularly when it came to complexity
- School enrolment and planning scored low on both measures
Best exemplars: revenues and benefits and street maintenance
Revenues and benefits
‘Revs and bens’ are relatively straightforward services (in that they involve fewer organisations) that are similar across councils. Councils are also very keen to transform them, which suits CDPS’s partnership model of content design. The DLR showed there are opportunities to:
- improve the integration of back-end systems
- use data more intelligently to identify residents eligible for benefits but who are not getting them – a higher risk service to transform because of the big consequences of missed benefits payments
Street and highways maintenance
Another simple service giving an opportunity to show what a seamless user journey – for ‘Report a problem’ – could look like. Compared with revenues and benefits, transformation of this service would be relatively low risk, although it would also have a lower impact on people’s quality of life.
DLR: uncovering big public service challenges
We started the Digital Landscape Review in September 2021, with the goal of uncovering the most significant challenges in digital public services in Wales.
The DLR team used the successive Agile design stages of discovery, alpha and beta to structure the review:
Discovery: the team interviewed a small number of services to design and test our method.
Alpha: we surveyed a larger sample of services across Wales. That allowed us to measure roughly how much services were meeting the Digital Service Standards.
Beta: since January 2022, we’ve engaged with more than 50 organisations providing public services in Wales. From this work, we’ve prioritised a set of practical challenges in digital services, which CDPS and its partners should address.
Building on findings
We’ve gathered plenty of information on the challenges of users and service owners alike. We’re using this insight to guide the work of CDPS and our partners. We’ve made our findings available in a wiki (online directory) for other CDPS teams to draw upon as they develop digital services with our partners.
Some CDPS teams are already building on DLR findings – for example, teams working on user-centred procurement and health and care services. Other projects are now in our portfolio, to be picked up when we’re ready to tackle them.
Goodbye (for now)!
The DLR has drawn to a close. We’re very grateful to everyone who’s contributed time, effort and ideas to the review.
If you’d like to get in touch about our findings, please email us.