E-government access strategy
The project issues
The routes through which customers can access their council, and the council can deliver services to its customers, are many and varied, and it can be tempting for councils to assume that the standard approaches of One-Stop-Shops and contact centres, combined with a website, will provide the answers. In this project, the client appointed Socitm Consulting to research the opportunities for customer access and to advise on a strategic approach which would tackle not only the main issues of the savings and service improvements achievable through E-government, but also social inclusion, local democracy and involvement, and the important objective of the Council being a significant presence in the community.
The Council serves a largely rural area, with major population centres just outside its borders – giving particular problems of council access for commuters, combined with the logistical problems of providing a presence across numerous minor population areas.
The project examined numerous options – opportunities for greater involvement of the parish councils in the area, potential use of agents such as local post offices to provide a council presence, and joint working with the County Council to provide a joint district and county presence in locations such as libraries and schools.
The Socitm Consulting solution
Socitm Consulting ran workshops within the Council to explore service managers’ perceptions of customer access issues and to explore potential options for new ways of working. Background research on the geographical characteristics of the area, locations of village halls and other potential community resources, examination of the effectiveness of existing provision, and discussion with senior management on the objectives and priorities for the Council all helped to provide the background necessary to the study.
A detailed access strategy was provided, in which a network of physical access points was proposed, some provided directly by the Council, and others provided in partnership with other organisations – the County Council, neighbouring district and borough councils, voluntary sector, parish councils and other organisations.
Overall the strategy provided a framework in which the various potential initiatives of One-Stop-Shop, contact centre, neighbourhood offices, and the council website could be seen and developed.
The benefits to the client
For the client, the project provided a systematic but pragmatic approach to the provision of access for its customer base, recognising the core aspects of the Council’s vision for the future. The Council had already made good progress in implementing the key technical elements of E-government (CRMS, EDRMS, etc) and now had the strategic framework on which to plan its forward development.
Council name: South Northamptonshire District Council
Client contact: Chris Lofts, Deputy Chief Executive, 01327 322303, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lead consultant: Doug Maclean
Project no: 4076
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