Service delivery to citizens is likely to involve both digital and physical channels in the future, with local governments adding digital service channels on the back of cost pressures, citizen demand as well as central government mandate. However, challenges remain. According to Deloitte, many organisations lack the staff to develop user-friendly interfaces, the leadership to bring about change and the access to required funding.
The Deloitte survey into the digital evolution of government institutions involved 400 public sector leaders, from various branches, including central government, local government, police forces, the NHS, as well as further and higher education. The survey was backed up with quantitative research as well as a series of qualitative interviews.
In ranking the most important reasons for the development of digital government services, the chief concern was efficiency, cited by 89% of respondents. This was followed closely by improving the citizen’s experience of their government service.
Although improving the efficiency of the Government and citizen experience are on top of the agenda, only 12% report high or very high levels of involvement of citizens in the development of services. Of the respondents surveyed, 86% highlight that a cohesive user experience is necessary for success, however, just over half (52%) are worried that their organisation lacks the design capabilities to deliver positive end-user experiences.
In terms of challenges faced by local government in the development of digital services, 26% cite that they believe their organisation has the digital skills required to implement their digital strategy, while only 32% believe they have the leadership skills to be able to successfully move forward with digital implementation.
It is not merely that organisations lack the digital skills required, the respondents also find themselves in a difficulty towards finding the required skills. Only 28% believe their organisation is able to obtain the needed digital skills. Workforce issues are cited by 93% as the most difficult area to manage the digital transformation. As a result of the various headwinds, particularly from personnel issues, only 35% say that they are confident in their organisation’s responsiveness to digital.
Besides issues related to staffing, two other issues showed up as problematic to the development and implementation of a digital strategy. These include insufficient funding and too many competing priorities, with both being cited by 45% of respondents.
Cost cutting on the back of austerity measures continues to hit many local organisations in the pocket, and while digital services are expected to ultimately reduce costs through improved efficiency, many respondents still have some issue accessing funds to implement digital changes. The potential value of implementation has, in the past two years, seen 32% of those surveyed receive increases to their budgets, while 17% say that they have received significant increases.
Another issue cited by many organisations is a cultural disagreement with a move toward digital channels. Of respondents, 89% said that changing culture towards digital was challenging, 34% of those said it was highly challenging.
Besides the barriers from a lack of skilled staff, cultural issues and a lack of money, organisations surveyed also highlighted that regulations, lack of flexibility and legacy contracts form obstacles for digital procurement. Of respondents, 83% say that procurement needs to change significantly or very significantly to accommodate digital transformation. Besides the danger of getting stuck in a legacy contract, the survey respondents say that big changes in procurement procedure are needed to support agile development and to lift restrictions on terms and conditions.