Although digital technologies are a powerful way to change a service, what really matters is the method with which change is done: user research, UX design, agile working, co-design, and solving problems in experimental ways. We now want to apply those methods to a wider set of problems, not all involving digital tech.
Due to time constraints, many Local Government Service leads are inevitably ‘heads down’ and perhaps overwhelmed by the variety of technology on offer. It can be hard to team up with neighbouring boroughs because that adds complexity and may slow things down through collaborative decision making. They need more ‘heads up’ time to reflect and review what is going on elsewhere, and try to be open minded and consider wider options – we as SMEs on the other hand need to present our products in terms of their benefits, in plain English, not as a technology offer.
There is a huge opportunity for local authorities to share common digital service patterns for highly defined, commoditised services that are repeated across multiple organisations. For services like reporting missed bins, FOI requests and complaints for example, how fundamentally different should the user journeys for these services be between individual authorities? Or, put another way, at a time of such pressure on public finances, can we continue to justify the level of local variation in the design and delivery of these services that we continue to see across the country?
The low code debate seems to have really kicked off.
The low code platforms we’ve tried place a big emphasis on making the lives of developers simpler (or redundant). Unfortunately, we notice this is at the expense of user experience. Low code makes it harder to take a user-centred, design-led approach.
When creating, you have to follow the platforms’ chosen UI components and design out of a prescribed box. Once completed, you can then tweak to meet your users needs. As the platform uses its own functionality, you are also restricted by what’s been created so far. It’s a world of functionality first and user needs later, which never ever ends well.
After careful consideration, we went for what I think was a good, pragmatic compromise. Our chosen open standards platform (this is a must), providing a “low code” development environment, has a fixed enterprise licence fee that means we can not only build unlimited apps for ourselves, but can build apps for any public sector body operating in our geography at no additional cost. Development time is much faster than it would otherwise be, and the skills required are significant, but lower than other development environments.
Worth reading both in full to help you decide if low code fits into your strategy.
At Adur & Worthing, our use of low code is core to our service design programme and the main tool used by our central digital team in change projects. We don’t go this way every time — we’re not purists — but time and again, we prove to ourselves it’s the better way.
Successful digital transformation in the public sector requires a significant shift in mind set from all employees to generate the best possible return for citizens. Councils also need to work together to generate ideas and platforms, which can then be shared across local government.
Great short-ish summary of the rise of aggregating platforms like Google, Facebook and Amazon from the ever-insightful Ben Thompson:
There’s loads of great digital transformation nuggets in here, from Coté.
Yesterday [Rob Miller] joined a large group of people whose idea of the best way to spend a beautiful sunny Saturday was to gather together in London’s City Hall and discuss ideas for ways that London can get the most out of the opportunities that ‘smart city’ developments offer.
With the particular needs of healthcare users and NHS having a strong, trusted brand, we’re noticing more and more that we need to go beyond the GDS standard and define our own universal method.