Placemaking and digital projects, due to their intrinsic connectedness, require thought. As we deal with a hydra of crisis issues, how do we make time for placemaking?

As political leaders and civil servants react to an ever-increasing array of challenges, it leaves little time to step back from the frantic pace of service delivery to think about the bigger picture. For those on the frontline, it’s a case of running just to stay still as demand rises and resources decrease.

If we’re going to make changes, even incremental ones, we need to free up the public sector to do things differently. While council-wide digital transformation may be desirable, it must comprise more than channel-shift and digitisation of processes – and rethinking your entire process of delivery is a substantial project. Taking a pragmatic approach to productivity can help create the space you need to think differently about your placemaking strategy for the future.

More than digital

Digital alone is not the answer. It’s merely a tool or a channel – it’s what we do with that tool or how we utilise that channel that matters. When poor processes are digitised, they don’t cease to be poor – they just get faster.

Too much data?

Organisations collect a vast amount of data while delivering services. We normally err on the side of collecting more than we need, just to be safe. However, it is estimated that only 3% of the data collected is ever used.

With pressure to spend every minute of our time on delivering better outcomes, having to collect data that may never be used or performing administrative tasks whose fitness for purpose has never been reviewed seems like something we could be doing better.

Making data work for you

Gathering data is all very well, but what counts is how that data is applied. Many organisations have lakes of data that flood in from every part of the organisation, forcing those compiling reports and looking for insight to fish around for the information relevant to their needs. Getting to grips with your data is essential to make the best use of it and deliver services that are quick, efficient and successful.

You can significantly boost productivity by looking at the way data moves throughout your organisation. It’s likely that, even with expensive and widely used systems, somebody, somewhere is downloading your data in a spreadsheet for a report, spending valuable time on a process that can be automated.

Small automations can provide gains that really add up over a month – and might be as simple as creating a Microsoft Power Automate process that helps manage reporting requests, automatically sending a form once a month to a set group of people and then consolidating the results into a PowerBI dashboard. Small changes that compound yield big results.

Find out more about the role of digital for levelling up, as well as some practical steps for local councils to take to achieve better placemaking. Download the report here.

Read more about levelling up

This article first appeared in TechUK

Written by

Chris Melia

Chris Melia

Growth Director at Capita Local Public Service

Chris is a highly experienced Customer Experience Director and has worked in digital and business transformation for over 17 years, working primarily in Local Government before joining Capita in 2015. He has undertaken a number of senior roles and has expertise in leading mutli-disciplined teams of specialists in delivering innovative change.

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