Welcome!

Article

‘SWITCH’ – a Programme for Change

Scarborough Borough Council’s Deputy Chief Executive, Hilary Jones, discusses the council's ‘Switched On’ vision for services

As people increasingly use the internet to shop and bank, it’s no surprise there is a growing appetite for online Council services too. Citizens want to be able to use online channels to pay council bills, order services and access information. The demand for a better digital environment isn’t restricted to residents – for councils like ours, developments in technology can deliver internal efficiencies, not only in front and back office operations but also in opening up the potential for greater agile working.

Like most local authorities, Scarborough Borough Council wants to be able to meet these demands.  For the 100,000-plus residents in our Borough, we want to enrich their lives by improving the range and quality of services we offer, providing a better customer experience and making services more accessible, 24 hours a day.    We also want to modernise our workforce by equipping staff with the means to work most efficiently, wherever they are, ensuring the valuable staffing resources we have are able to focus on service delivery and not unnecessary administration or travel, and we are committed to finding the most financially viable ways of doing this.

Creating a digital vision

Our digital journey began in April 2013, when the Council pulled together a team of staff under the project name ‘SWITCH’.  Bringing together practitioners in ICT, Policy and Performance, Customer Services and Communications, the SWITCH team set out to develop and implement a new operating model for the Council;  one that would enable us to deliver our vision for an improved customer experience and a more agile and efficient workforce while also identifying potential efficiency savings.

With technology-driven change, the key to success is to understand, and then adapt.  In devising its ‘Switched On’ agenda the team liaised with all services across the organisation, as well as the Customer First team, to gain a better understanding of why the Council should adopt an operating model that makes greater use of digital technology.  Insight and data which reflected customers’ actual experiences were fed in to create, new service delivery processes which are now making it much easier for residents to engage with us at any time and from a range of devices.

We’ve also found that Council staff themselves are eager to embrace new technology to enhance the way they work. An internal survey revealed that more than a quarter of staff work away from their desks more than 20% of the time, doing site visits and inspections. Staff recognised that new technologies to support mobile working would make them more efficient, reducing unnecessary paperwork and the need for travel across a Borough which is geographically quite large.

‘Switching on’ to our new agenda

These insights gave the Council an excellent foundation for its ’Switched On’ programme, which is turning out to be much more than just a vision for process automation.  Switched On is about a radical redesign of services using digital technology as an enabler, focusing on two fundamental changes to the Council’s operational model:

Self-service:  We are making our services as accessible as possible online.   Supported by Firmstep’s platform of solutions, the Council has just launched a new self-service portal which offers a secure and user-friendly way for citizens to make service requests, report problems, make payments and track the progress of their requests from whatever device and whatever time is most convenient.

By doing this we have put customers in control, enabling them to fully manage their interactions with us, bringing council and community much closer together. As well as catering for customer demand, we believe that over time this will help the Council generate significant financial savings.  If just 20% of customers engage in self-service, savings can be made along the entire service delivery chain, with the costs of paper, printing, postage, and administration likely to decrease. We believe the improved take-up of self-service alone could save our taxpayers £150,000 over a 12-month period.

Mobile and remote working: Switched On is expanding our capabilities to be a mobile and agile workforce by bringing in Firmstep solutions that link officers out in the area to back-office systems, without compromising the security of the organisation or the sensitive data we handle.  Because the Firmstep platform can be accessed on tablet devices or smart phones that link staff directly to our back office systems, we expect that productivity will improve as staff can use their time more effectively.  There’ll be less travelling, leading to lower fuel costs; and tied in with more home / flexible working and an increase in the use of hot-desking, the amount of permanent office space needed in the future will be lower.

To be fit for the future, Scarborough Borough Council is going through a transition to become a very different organisation: more efficient and effective, with a marked increase in our productivity and performance, enabled by the SWITCH programme.

The investment in the Firmstep suite of enabling technology gives us customer relationship management to support our customer-first centres and call centre; a citizen self-service portal with enhanced online access that is integrated with back-office systems; and a new website to host and promote self-service as the channel of choice.  In short, a new capability that will ensure the Council can continue on its journey for continuous improvement that meets the needs of our customers now and in the future.   As our Council Leader, Cllr Tom Fox, puts it, “We must continue to innovate, not just so we can deliver services at less cost to the taxpayer, but to ensure we are offering customers the digital options that are now par for the course across the private sector and much of the public sector.”

More Stories By Brett Husbands

Brett Husbands is the co-founder and CEO of Firmstep. Firmstep's solutions help Government, public sector and private organisations to deliver better services at a lower cost through channel shift

Latest Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC., a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"At the keynote this morning we spoke about the value proposition of Nutanix, of having a DevOps culture and a mindset, and the business outcomes of achieving agility and scale, which everybody here is trying to accomplish," noted Mark Lavi, DevOps Solution Architect at Nutanix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Massive Networks mission is simple. To help your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions. Improve your customer's experience with outstanding connections to your cloud.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
"The Striim platform is a full end-to-end streaming integration and analytics platform that is middleware that covers a lot of different use cases," explained Steve Wilkes, Founder and CTO at Striim, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution and join Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader, Sergey Grebnov, in his session at @ThingsExpo, for an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Calligo, an innovative cloud service provider offering mid-sized companies the highest levels of data privacy and security, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Calligo offers unparalleled application performance guarantees, commercial flexibility and a personalised support service from its globally located cloud plat...
21st International Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Me...
"With Digital Experience Monitoring what used to be a simple visit to a web page has exploded into app on phones, data from social media feeds, competitive benchmarking - these are all components that are only available because of some type of digital asset," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that DXWorldExpo has been named “Global Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation is the key issue driving the global enterprise IT business. Digital Transformation is most prominent among Global 2000 enterprises and government institutions.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera, that offers a radically new data management architecture, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera is transforming the traditional datacenter model through modern cloud simplicity. The technology industry is at another major inflection point. The rise of mobile, the Internet of Things, data storage and Big...
"Outscale was founded in 2010, is based in France, is a strategic partner to Dassault Systémes and has done quite a bit of work with divisions of Dassault," explained Jackie Funk, Digital Marketing exec at Outscale, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We were founded in 2003 and the way we were founded was about good backup and good disaster recovery for our clients, and for the last 20 years we've been pretty consistent with that," noted Marc Malafronte, Territory Manager at StorageCraft, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex ...
While the focus and objectives of IoT initiatives are many and diverse, they all share a few common attributes, and one of those is the network. Commonly, that network includes the Internet, over which there isn't any real control for performance and availability. Or is there? The current state of the art for Big Data analytics, as applied to network telemetry, offers new opportunities for improving and assuring operational integrity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Frey, Vice President of S...