Digital transformation in local government – the way ahead

Over the last few weeks we have looked at results from the ANZ Local Government Digital Maturity Index (DMI). It is a mixed bag.

The report is based on a survey of over 100 Local Government Authorities in Australia and New Zealand, which asked about about the extent to which they are digitising their internal processes and the delivery of their services. It was researched by Government News and sponsored by Australian information and process governance software company Objective.

The benchmarking methodology allows LGAs to compare their performance against their peers, in a number of areas. It also acts as a snapshot of current performance across the board.

The Index shows that, while many LGAs have made a good start at digital transformation, very few have achieved a high degree of maturity.

The DMI contains four sub-indexes. One of these looks at external customer services – the extent to which ratepayers and other external stakeholders can interact digitally with the LGA.

Another looks at internal processes and operations – in-house systems and the extent to which staff can interact digitally with each other. A third sub-index covers overall digital strategy, and another metrics and adherence to digital standards.

Probably the most significant finding in the report is that 90 percent of respondents agree that digital is the way of the future, but that only 20 percent believe that their own LGA is doing enough to transition to a digital environment.

This is a massive disconnect. It could be regarded as disappointing, or it could been seen as a great opportunity. The survey results show where Australia’s LGAs can address the areas that are preventing the best digital experience for both citizens and workers.

One question in the Digital Maturity Index survey asked respondents to describe the most significant impediments to successful digital transformation. Answers were not prompted, but supplied as free form text. The results were categorised, with the top four areas of challenge:

  • Cost of resourcing (mentioned by 22 percent of respondents)
  • Resistance to change (19 percent)
  • Limited technical capability and infrastructure (17 percent)
  • Lack of leadership or strategy (14 percent).

Every challenge represents an opportunity. There are many – at every stage of the digital transformation journey.

LGAs that clearly articulate their goals and the anticipated benefits of digital technology for the organisation, staff and members of the community, will undoubtedly lead the way. Internal infrastructure and systems are key to a successful digital transformation but equally important is to ensure that staff are on board for the digital journey.

As LGAs progressively transform their more complex customer services – such as development applications, commercial registrations and licenses – they will realise the benefits of lower costs, time savings and improved community outcomes.

It is clear that strong leadership, more streamlined or automated processes, creative approaches to staff engagement, transitioning from legacy systems or maximising the returns from existing systems are all critica lfactors to the successful transition to a citizen-centric digital local government.

All levels of government are under pressure to deliver new and better services, with the same or reduced levels of funding and staffing. But digital transformation opens up the potential for significant efficiency gains and allows for resource reallocation to areas and tasks that add more value to the LGA.

Download the report here.


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