Information technology: the great enabler

Local councils are complex organisations. They not only need to comply with various regulatory requirements, but are often a collection of many disparate businesses, delivering a set of diverse services to a broad group of communities – residents, businesses and visitors.

Information technology plays a crucial role in creating the interconnected council vision, integrating and streamlining critical council functions and transforming them into efficient operations. But however tempting the latest, shiniest technologies and software may appear, the best solutions occur when councils take a holistic view of their system landscape and how this supports long-term business goals.

Information Technology is essentially an enabler. Having the right IT landscape is the foundation to enable the council to be a community-focussed, service-led organisation. With it, councils can engage with customers via desired channels and continuously improve services to the community.

In our experience, councils we have worked with have underinvested in IT by between 2-5 per cent, based on benchmarking of similar sized service-based organisations.  Most councils have several hundred applications, many 20 years old or more, and their ageing technologies are usually unable to communicate with each other.  This diverse and non-integrated system landscape inhibits the ability to move into modern best practice.

At the same time, historically the sector has had a limited choice with the products and ecosystem of vendors focused on local government, with the domination of a small number of boutique providers. Councils have expressed concern with the level of service and attention they have received over the years, coupled with high costs of ownership and low levels of technology maturity.

What is best practice?

Information Technology should be capable of tracking the customer-council interaction end-to-end by providing a dashboard providing a 360-degree view that builds up a holistic picture of the customer. Each customer will be able to access this dashboard via their preferred digital channel, and council staff can tap into this to provide them with the right information at the right time.

For example, if someone comes in to apply for a parking permit, Customer Service Officers can track all interactions this customer has had with the council from A-Z. This data could range from their application for a business or planning permit, dog license, or registering the customer’s children with the local library.

This new approach enriches individual data with publicly available data to drive the 21st century council’s decision-making. Even decisions as to the council’s capital investment portfolio can be enriched by overlaying residential profile data with publicly available census data.

Technology should be leveraged to streamline front, middle and back office processes – administrative affairs, finance, IT, rates/governance and office functionality to support the range of services that councils needs to provide. This impacts not only customers but vendors and contractors as well.

What to talk about with colleagues and leaders

  • Review and develop customer and IT strategies to enable the organisation to better manage customer expectations by leveraging modern technologies.
  • Perform detailed financial benefits and costs analysis of each component of the program, including qualifying and quantifying tangible and non-tangible benefits and costs.
  • Conduct detailed program planning, covering system implementation, resource planning and mobilisation and gap analysis for technology capabilities and program resourcing.
  • Undertake key change management activities, including establishing executive sponsorship and business stakeholder buy-in for the program and ensuring visibility and monitoring across key governance forums.

Kar Lim is Director, KPMG Enterprise and Toni Jones, is a partner with KPMG Enterprise and Local Government Leader.

Comment below to have your say on this story.

If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at  

Sign up to the Government News newsletter.

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required