LGC Awards — We made the shortlist for Digital Council of the Year!

LGC Awards 2018

Last November the Council received notification that it had been shortlisted in the LGC Awards as Digital Council of the year. The LGC Awards are described by Nick Golding, LGCs Editor as ‘about celebrating the people and organisations doing the most to ensure their area succeeds’. He says these people are true innovators, who are dedicated to local public service and improving their local area despite austerity. We were really proud to be recognised for the work we have been undertaking on digital transformation in North East Lincolnshire through being shortlisted and, as a result, being part of these true innovators.

This gave us the opportunity to reflect on our progress, but also our future direction of travel. Our submission had focussed on the work we’d undertaken with our Customer Service Transformation Programme which saved £1.2M and how this became our proof of concept for the whole organisation to shift its thinking.

As a team, we shared ideas on three reasons we thought we should win. It was fantastic to see the extensiveness and depth of thinking across the team, including from some relatively new staff. It really highlighted how much our thinking had shifted and how we were starting to think about digital as user focussed service design for end to end services.

Digital Council of the Year Shortlist

We described our ambition for digital to be a Place based approach and shared some of our achievements over the last year. This was part of our journey towards service design approaches and designing services around the user. We’re proud of what we achieved as we shifted to deliver services online and supporting our customers to self-serve through assisted digital support, where it was needed.

Some of our achievements that were recognised in us being shortlisted were:

· New council tax and benefits platform, making it more convenient for residents to submit forms when and from whatever device they choose. 9,500 face-to-face visits to NEL council offices have been avoided as a result. This was a piece of work delivered for North and North East Lincolnshire Councils who have a shared IT Service.

· In house development of the Council’s website. Evidence shows a continued rise in access to NEL’s website by mobile devices and that people accessing the site find what they want first time.

· A section on NELs new intranet (again, built in-house) shared with partners in health has facilitated the implementation of a “no wrong door” system, meaning people can get answers to their health-related queries regardless of who they ask

· Creating a new system to facilitate the move to Universal Credit, with a focus on providing early debt advice and identification of those in the most acute need. The system is used in all places and by all people a resident could ask for help — family hubs, social care workers, libraries, Citizen’s Advice, Job Centres. This has generated a reduction in face-to-face meetings about benefits of 50% as people now routinely manage their circumstances independently online

· New Customer Portal enabling residents and members to record and track enquiries and route digitally to action by services, improving council services and reducing costs. 75% of users say the portal gives them a better experience

We attended a presentation session in London in front of 4 judges for Digital Council of the Year. We gave a 10 minute presentation on why we thought we should win and then we left them to their deliberations! Were we nervous you might ask? Absolutely, but in the same time excited because we achieved a lot of great things and we wanted to share this.

As a result of being shortlisted we were invited down to a black tie awards ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel. There were more than 1000 people in attendance on the evening, all celebrating the good work that is going on around the country. We were proud to be a part of it and to celebrate what the people who work in local government are doing to improve outcomes for local people.

We’re now developing our service design model further and looking at which are the biggest problems we need to solve. We are designing services from end to end through wrapping a multi-disciplinary team around the project. We’re adopting agile project management methodologies and the team have really embraced this new way of working all the way. Go Team! There’s a buzz around the place as we kick off projects and start to work in this new and improved way. We’ve also been shortlisted for the MJ Awards; another opportunity to look at the work going on around the country to digitally transform services.

Whilst we didn’t win, being shortlisted is great recognition for the good work we are doing for those that need and use our services. What it also gives, is time to reflect on what we are doing, where we are going, what is happening in the external environment and how we can improve even further. And who knows, there might be a new, shiny award sitting in our office soon. So watch this space!