Change management crucial for local government sector in 2021

Technology will be critical to meet citizen expectations in 2021, writes Brett Barningham – and so is change management.

Brett Barningham

The coronavirus pandemic forced many local councils to rapidly shift systems and processes online.

Those who invested in digital citizen engagement and field force mobility prior to the pandemic reaped dividends through greater engagement with citizens compared to those who had not.

In 2021, it will be essential that councils prioritise broadening the digital tool kit and ways in which they engage with citizens, mobilise their field workers with cloud-based technologies that enable them to work from anywhere at any time, and reduce costs to service through process optimisation and digital improvements.

By shifting to cloud-based technologies, local councils will benefit through reduced risk of outages and data loss through the closure on of-site infrastructure, be more agile when it comes to responding to citizen requests and enquiries, and be able to deliver services to changing stakeholder needs significantly faster – reducing overall costs through reduced capital expenditure.

Organisational culture the biggest risk for digital transformation

In 2021, local councils must focus on change management alongside their digital transformation efforts.

Many technological implementations are not as successful as they could have been with only 10-30 per cent of the opportunity realised or used in a way that was intended.  Too many organisations are not taking people along with them on a transformational journey.

It’s essential that local councils put budget aside for change management as it can have a disproportionately high impact on a council’s chances of success in implementing new technologies.

Untapped opportunities for 2021

  • The shift to remote working will enable local councils to attract and tap talent that would otherwise not consider working in rural and regional areas.
  • The increased uptake of digital technologies will help to close the digital divide between the public and private sector – and regional and city councils – vastly improving how local government interact with their citizens.
  • The use of Internet-of-Things technologies will enable operational efficiencies and improved decision making within local government.
  • The state government is playing a bigger role in development approvals.

Brett Barningham is managing director of local and state government at Civica.

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