Shortlisted for Digital Council of the Year 2019!

We’re delighted to have reached the shortlist for Digital Council of the Year 2019 in the Digital Leaders 100, and we’re looking forward to a fun night in June at the awards evening — the team so deserve it.

Why vote for us in the #DL100?

Quite often there is limited information made available that really shows the achievements of organisations who are up for awards.

We’d like to explain what we’ve achieved and then if you’d like for us to be Digital Council of the Year 2019, we’d love you to vote here.

What we’ve delivered

Cutting to the chase, we are proud to have delivered a very wide range of digital services over the last three years, designed with service teams using agile techniques, and built by our talented digital team using our low code platform, applying Government Digital Service design standards.

  • We’ve built several major digital services, with our first being an end-to-end waste management service, providing a range of customer self service options and integration to in-cab technology.
    You can see these here:
    Clinical waste
    Missed bin
    Request a bin
    Bulky waste collection
  • It’s truly end to end — we’ve developed the operational “back end” as well as the customer facing elements, allowing us to cut response times down from days to hours, and reducing operational costs significantly. And working in this way, we have the ability to adapt and change these services over time at low cost, in-house and to our timetable.
  • The waste project also included the development of automated voice ordering for clinical waste, pushing fully automated requests straight to field operative tablets via the platform, using Amazon Lex/Poly technology. Clinical waste collection requests to the operative now take 45 seconds using a few voice commands.
  • Our online street issues reporting, provides real time data on live incidents publicly and fully automates work requests direct to operatives in the field.
  • Our end-to-end social housing repairs service includes self service appointment booking, sophisticated operative scheduling and mobile field work. We use the Google maps API in the application to find the nearest skilled field operative and notify the customer of the arrival time taking traffic conditions into account. The project saved £80k in forecast implementation costs for third party software and avoided an £85k annual licence fee. It’s an impressive service which demonstrates the feature depth, build quality and resilience achievable with a low code platform.
  • We’ve also designed and built an asset management service, enabling digital stock condition surveying, compliance monitoring across all assets, and commercial estate management. The asset management service has API links across to our social housing repairs app to enhance information available to operatives on the front line. We are excited about the power of this platform as we experiment with remote monitoring and real-time reporting.
  • With LGA support, we also built a digital social prescribing service called Going Local, which is in use by GPs across Adur and Worthing, and won the Not for Profit category at Computing Magazine’s Digital Technology Leaders Awards 2017.
  • A range of digital HR services has been created over the last 18 months, including starters & leavers, annual leave booking and a people data dashboard (which gives fantastic real-time drill down insight into our entire staff structure). We’re currently designing and building more HR services, including digital on-boarding for new staff.
  • There are some powerful interactions between our digital services using the common data architecture and API calls between apps. For example, if an in-house plumber books a holiday on the corporate annual leave app, her status will update in the housing repairs app and she will automatically be made unavailable for jobs.
  • We’ve also created a wide range of corporate digital services including Request for Information (FOI), Complaints, Internal Audit, Business Continuity.
  • Our online Revenues and Benefits services uses the styling, which we’ve applied to a third party product.
  • Ticketless car parking has enabled auto-billing direct from a payment card and applies the styling to another third party product.
  • Our migration to Amazon Web Services for application hosting is well underway, and our infrastructure team are building up their AWS skills.
  • We are also very active in digital place-making, being the first places in the south east to bring full fibre (gigabit) to our towns, funded by the DCMS. The next two years will see us develop significant people-centred strategies for digital place-making based on the fantastic underlying fibre infrastructure currently being built, including widely available public wifi and 5G by design.

Please consider voting for Adur & Worthing here to become Digital Council of the Year 2019.

How we work

We are two relatively small councils, with modest budgets. Our total net budget for all services is £22m across the two councils, and over the last four years we have reached a £1m reduction in revenue budgets through the digital programme. Our £600k set up costs were repaid in two years and we have been running on a business as usual budget throughout. We think our low cost model has been critical to our current success and makes us truly sustainable. We also believe our strategy is within reach of any council of any size. We certainly use external agencies, but rarely, as we are focused on developing our own capabilities for the long term. We have certainly found some amazing talents within our councils.

We are very proud of the work we have done to establish service design as a way to undertake holistic change, and our SameRoom blog helps us communicate the significant projects we have led in our local system, including digital work, organisational development and systems leadership.

Future Plans

Your website’s a bit dated though isn’t it?

As Local Digital Declaration signatories, we have very intentionally spent time “fixing the plumbing” rather than putting too much focus on a “new face” without deeper changes being made. We’ve done enough plumbing work now and this year we will be launching a redesigned website to bring our whole digital estate up to a modern standard, with design standards adhered to throughout.

We have created a set of generic APIs on our platform which will allow us to publish data in real-time from the range of digital services mentioned, giving us the exciting prospect of providing live service information and performance data to the public and via social media.

Our Effortless customer services programme is redesigning our use of technology in the contact centre, improving customer contact handling in service teams and designing new and simpler ways to gain customer feedback.

Furthermore, an agile digital design project this year will improve the digital staff experience with new HR workflows integrated into a new intranet with a staff contact book which will show phone status, google calendars and dynamic organisational structure charts to aid communications across the organisation.

Providing capabilities across our local system

Adur & Worthing have ambitions well beyond council service delivery, exemplified by our social prescribing project Going Local, our MHCLG project OpenCommunity with Bucks and Devon, and the range of SameRoom multi-agency projects we have led.

To support this ambition, our low code platform is licenced on a geographical basis, meaning that our digital team can create and deliver applications at no additional licence cost to other public service and CVS organisations in our area.

We believe that this will open up opportunities to create prevention services across organisational silos, using SameRoom methods of engagement, and to support smaller organisations with limited digital capacity to adopt new digital working practices.

Further Reading on our technology approach and our digital team

Adur & Worthing developed its platform approach with two main targets in mind. Firstly we understood that our councils desperately needed to be able to rethink and redesign service operating models, harnessing the benefits of modern technologies and internet-era styles of working, and we needed to find a way to do this cost effectively.

Secondly, we needed to create an approach that was based on good data management — harnessing the value of using common data across applications, enabling easier and cheaper integrations, and giving us the ability to analyse and report data easily in real time both internally and publicly.

In 2014, working with specialist consultants, we conducted an assessment of our current state, and developed a capability map of our new technology requirements based on open standards cloud technologies. We identified and explained the problems of legacy line of business systems, and the cost and inflexibility which was being experienced time and again. Using the capability map, we procured several new technologies and the consultant expertise to help us integrate them and deploy them, with a project investment of £600k.

Our very first cloud platform implementation was Google for Work, which was undertaken rapidly, rolling out to all staff successfully within six weeks. We have seen multiple benefits with the shift to Google, particularly the collaboration culture it has fostered with applications such as Hangouts and Google docs. Our call centre staff communicate with service teams using hangouts all day every day, and meeting agendas, minutes and committee reports are easily co-produced in shared Google docs. Teams create shared spreadsheets for resource management and projects, and are able to easily create survey forms internally and for the public.

Our enterprise platform is a combination of a small core of Salesforce which provides our contact centre CRM and overall master data management. Our key innovation however, was selecting an open standards low code platform to provide many of the capabilities needed in the architecture, addressing the challenge of developer capacity and skill in our sector. Our low code platform provides a rapid application development environment, speeding up product development by 10 times the norm, without the need for expensive coding skills.

Our market scan and procurement identified the Matssoft low code platform, in use at that time in the financial services sector. Looking beyond “best practice” in local government was a critical moment for us in charting a different future.

Working with consultants in the first 9 months, we designed and built our first major digital service, creating a new end to end waste management system, fully replacing several disjointed legacy systems.

We created our initial in-house team by drawing together technically skilled people from across the organisation. One of our Senior Digital Developers was a coastal surveying technician, and another a housing officer, with a talent for creating useful Excel and Access databases. We have since expanded our team somewhat but have not increased the overall revenue budget for the service — in fact the service met a £150k savings target last year.

We will be recruiting to a Junior Developer apprentice position in 2019, who will join our fantastic team. They work using agile methods and receive full training on our low code platform along with GDS Academy training on agile development.

We’d be delighted if you could vote for us, and help celebrate and showcase an approach that we think many organisations could benefit from.