Agenda item

Digital Work Programme Progress update

To provide an update, in the form of a presentation, on the progress of the Council’s Digital Work Programme (report of the Portfolio Holder Governance and Customer and the Executive Director Strategy and Governance enclosed).


With the agreement of the Chairman, this item was moved forward on the agenda for consideration.


Officers provided members with a presentation which provided an update on the Digital Work Programme, which would affect all sections of the Council.  It covered the following areas:


SHDC’s digital ambition; Digital recruitment; Environmental Services - Digital ambition, including Programme Status; Tenants’ Online Handbook and Tenants’ Portal, including Programme Status; GIS Mapping; Scan stations and payments machines; Details on customer contact; SHDC Digital Pipeline Status; and Information on Customer Contact – Analog v Digital.


Members considered the information provided within the presentation, and the following issues arose:


Digital ambition/Digital recruitment


·         Members understood that implementation was not as far advanced as it should be and asked for an explanation.


o   Officers responded that the digital programme had experienced some delays due to recruitment challenges, but with a digital team and dedicated programme management now in place, the programme was fully under way. Given the challenges appointing to posts within the digital team, the authority was looking at ways to improve the way in which recruitment was undertaken, with the assistance of the Human Resources and Communications departments, and this was now beginning to bear fruit.


·         Members noted the response, and requested that any recruitment issues be reported back to the Panel.


·         With regard to SHDC’s  web platform, members asked how the current status  compared to market leaders.


o   Officers advised that the GOSS platform was used, and that this was an industry standard used by many other councils.  The authority worked with them a great deal, and it was  trying to streamline processes alongside GOSS.


Environmental  Services


·         Members commented that it was clear that, moving forward, more customer contact with the authority would be undertaken through digital means.  However, there was still a need to retain current systems to provide a means of contact for those that chose not to interact digitally, or who had poor Wi-Fi connectivity.


o   Officers confirmed that new technology would run alongside existing, more traditional contact channels such as phone and face-to-face enquiries.


·         Members asked how savings could be quantified?


o   Officers advised that in the first two months, 1200 jobs were dealt with via tablets, and as more data became available, so the opportunity to quantify savings would increase.


·         Members questioned whether  savings could be achieved if digital improvements making it easier for the customer to make contact with the council increased demand – would savings due to internal efficiency be lost by customer contact in other ways?  This question would need answering at a later date, when more data was available.


·         Members asked what the effect on productivity would be?


o   Officers commented that early intervention could prevent some issues becoming bigger problems.  Productivity could be considered in the future, when the system had been in operation for longer.


Progress to date


·         Members commented that it would be useful to have a more detailed report with regard to progress, to show whether projects were on track or not.

·         Members also stated that reporting had to be open and honest around areas where performance was poor, but also areas of success should be identified.


o   The Portfolio Holder commented that tasks within the work programme would be changeable, due to commitments, and that this should be borne in mind when considering progress.


Tenants online handbook and portal


·         Members observed that some areas of the district had difficulty in  accessing a good Broadband service.  It was vital that the authority looked at its  infrastructure, how it would move forward in this respect, and that necessary resources were allocated where necessary. 


o   Officers were aware of connectivity issues, and stated that the online provision was an additional offer to residents, which would run alongside existing streams. However, issues with Broadband and infrastructure were part of the remit going forward, and work was being undertaken in this area.



·         Members commented that the Tenants’ Portal was very easy to use. 


·         Members asked whether, with regard to the tenant reporting system,  customer services had access to the Northgate system?


o   Officers advised that there was limited viewable access however, work would be undertaken with the expansion of Northgate which is set to amalgamate existing systems the within the Housing department.  Northgate can be fully integrated with the Goss platform which will give access to the Customer Services Team. Housing Landlord Services Manager to provide broader end to end service.


·         Members responded that this issue should be looked at with some urgency, as it had been a problem for some time.


Reporting and Direction


·         Members requested that updates be provided to the Panel on a six-monthly basis for the duration of the programme.


Scan stations etc.


·         Members requested that information on the proportion of total transactions (transactions compared to previous usage) be provided.


·         Members commented on the geographical location of the scan stations – currently these were only sited in Spalding.  Were outlying areas missing out, and could the facility be expanded further.

o   Officers responded that the machines could be rolled out however, there were verification policies in place for the machines in Spalding which meant that a member of staff needed to be available to verify information before scanning can be done.  This would need to be considered if the machines were to be made available more widely.


Customer contacts


·         Members commented that over a number of years, there had been changes in the way face-to-face and phone contact services had been provided.  Going forward, any changes to customer contact needed to be open and justifiable with regard to why they were being proposed, and members wished to be kept informed.


·         Members asked whether there would be a move towards an android or iOS app?

o   Officers advised that this was currently not the case.  All sites were currently easy to find and accessible through mobile phones, and there was therefore no current need to introduce an app.


Customer Contact Analog v Digital


·         Members commented that a percentage, rather than numbers for this information would be more useful.




a)    That the presentation, and the information provided be noted; and


b)    That further information be provided to the Panel in due course, as identified during the discussion.

Supporting documents: