Web services review
Bath and North East Somerset Council (B&NESC) was seeking to assess the internal support and development mechanisms available to the Council and its ability to meet the changing needs of the organisation in respect of its Website. Socitm Consulting was engaged to help the authority with this review.
The particular issues facing B&NESC are much as for many other Councils with regard to their provision of web services:
- The need to achieve widespread acceptance of the use of the web to support the business from all key stakeholders, so that the resultant web strategy (and therefore the council web site) can contribute to the Council’s plans for transformation and growth.
- Adapting to social and cultural change as driven by social media sites such as FaceBook and Twitter and the use of multimedia and web 2.0
- Partnership arrangements that merges the delivery of certain services with a new public website - currently under development.
- Planned budget reductions by the Council, which means that the web has a key role to play by being able to deliver services at a reduced cost.
The primary objective of the review was to establish whether the internal web team – the CIS Team - was meeting the current and future needs of the council and what changes could be made to improve the services that it delivers.
Socitm Consulting provided a senior web consultant who undertook a series of interviews with key stakeholders throughout the Council. Our consultant produced an analysis of the current status of the provision of web services within the Council. This analysis was based on SWOT - a strategic planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or in a business.
During the course of our interviews we gained an understanding of where the Council wanted to be in respect of its web services and in particular:
- the web strategy against best practice
- emerging trends
- future service requirements
- cultural change
- partnership working
- budgetary changes
- ancillary websites
- and importantly we identified how it would get there.
We further recommended that the council ensure that a senior officer has specific responsibility for promoting e-government in general and web services in particular throughout the Council. We highlighted the practical benefits that can be achieved by promoting web services to Council leaders (Senior Managers and Members), drawing on examples of best practice from other councils and related organisations. In addition, we recommended that the council implement a formal “Help Desk” recording facility for all work requests so that they could be managed more effectively. We also outlined the benefits of the Web team being more pro-active and engaged in Customer services projects.
Austin Warren, Web Manager commented "The Web is now one of our key communications channels with over 5000 visits per day by customers. We realised that we needed to ensure that our web strategy was sound and that the necessary resources would be available to help us meet the challenge of increasing web usage. We gave SOCITM Consulting a set of objectives and a list of areas to review, and they were able to convert this into an action plan that accurately reflected our requirements and our organisational culture. We would definitely recommend them to any local authority looking for help with planning its future Web delivery strategy."
Client contact: Austin Warren, Web Manager IS Team, T: 01225 395130, E: Austin_warren@bathnes.gov.uk
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