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St Albans council integrates systems in effort to streamline processes

The council of St Albans has implemented a unified digital platform to streamline how citizens interact with its services, as well as its own decision-making processes

St Albans City and District Council is unifying its disparate legacy systems on one council-wide digital platform to improve decision-making and simplify interactions with citizens.

To achieve the greater operational agility that its legacy systems and infrastructure were preventing it from having, the council wanted a completely integrated front-end and back-end system in the form of a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform.

A key requirement of the platform was agility, as the council wanted to provide customers with a “front-of-house” solution while also being able to migrate and consolidate some 45 back-office legacy systems onto the platform over time, as and when they were needed.

“When looking for the ideal solution, it was important that we found the right partner with the technical experience that would allow us to feed into the design and collaborate through an agile process,” said Caroline Croft, digital and ICT manager at St Albans council.

“Arcus Global, with its proven track record with other authorities, and a unique, true front-to-back office solution built on the world-leading Salesforce platform, gave us this flexibility.”

She added the organisations have collaboratively started to implement one digital platform that includes a library of council processes, as well as a single point of access for the customer across a range of council services.

“[Now] we have a single view of the customer journey, which has provided a whole host of new information and business intelligence to aid strategic decision-making. We are now using the same technology and accessing the same real-time data as our customers,” she said.

The transformation process

In the first phase of the project, the council implemented Arcus’s Digital Services Hub, a real-time self-service portal underpinned by Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM).

For the council, the portal has two distinct functions for both residents and staff. For residents, the Citizen’s Portal provides real-time interactions for a host of services such as Revenues and Waste & Recycling, and has given citizens the ability to serve themselves online from one single account.

“Essentially, self-serve functioning enables the citizen to transact with us when they want to, rather than when one of our offices are open. It also changes the way our citizens perceive us in terms of us being a modern and open-for-business service,” said Croft.

In December 2018, the council extended the portal to include MyTenancy, providing residents with access to live housing account information, including balances and payments. It also allows them to send and receive messages from the account.

Two months later in February 2019, the council went live with Arcus’s end-to-end green waste service, adding further functionality for residents and another online self-service process for the council.

“The new digital offering puts the customers’ needs at the heart of the journey by enabling them to self-serve online. It also gives us real-time information, which helps us better understand their needs and shape our services accordingly,” said Croft, adding that the project has freed up resources so the council can concentrate on delivering other services for people who truly need its support.

“Our decision-making was based on our perception of who the customer was, rather than the reality, and this was hampering the transformation journey.”

For staff, the Employee Portal was similarly developed for a range of internal processes such as human resource management, while a new IT service desk gave staff the same self-service functionality, essentially treating them as if they were an internal customer.

“Following a very successful first two years of the transformation programme, we have seen positive change and can quickly react to changing needs of both citizens and businesses without the traditional issues associated with legacy IT systems,” said Croft. “As such, we are primed for the next step of our digital journey.”

Read more about local authority digitisation

  • Six councils will each get up to £350,000 for digital innovation projects aiming to improve services for residents, in the latest round of the Local Digital Fund.
  • As budgets dwindle and central government delays the creation of an overarching strategy around the future of care, local authorities are looking into innovations such as robotics and voice assistant technologies to ease the pressure on resources.
  • Government technology is spreading across Europe, but policy-makers and senior civil servants are still figuring out best practices.

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