LGs collaborate to boost digital transformation
Digitial transformation is a huge, but necessary, undertaking. Collaboration between three South Australian local government offices has built a foundation for resource and knowledge sharing.
Resource constraints often thwart the digital transformation plans of local government departments. For three South Australian councils, the key to speeding up plans and enjoying success in a particularly challenging year lay in collaboration.
We spoke with Karin Swiatnik, LGITSA President, City of Charles Sturt, to learn more about the benefits of pulling together to enable knowledge and resource sharing.
How important is digital transformation for local government today?
Digital transformation is becoming increasingly important. Like all industry sectors, we had to move quickly in response to COVID-19 and, as such, finding ways to build resilience and manage uncertainty became key. In fact, recent research has shown that nationally, digital transformation was the highest-ranking priority for local government organisations this year, proving it’s now critical.
What are some of the challenges faced by local governments in achieving this?
Local governments are often time poor and don’t have the same level of resources as other levels of government or big businesses. Because of this, change and digital adoption can be slower and, at times, stifle innovation. That’s why adopting the right type of technology is so important, as well as collaboration across the board.
Other key challenges include the high proportion of legacy systems that exist in digital environments, technical debt and the vulnerability to cybersecurity attacks.
What are some ways that local governments can combat challenges with digital transformation and other key priorities like community engagement and tech adoption?
Technology adoption can and should play an important role in tackling these challenges head on, and collaboration is also critical.
By breaking down silos and creating a more collaborative public sector, we have the potential to unlock far greater capabilities and learn from one another. Ultimately, this enables us to create communities in which people come first.
What’s top of Adelaide councils’ list when it comes to digital transformation and what are you adopting to meet demand in this area?
One of the key initiatives for us has been updating our IT service desk solution with Freshservice, a product of Freshworks, which has helped to streamline internal operations and deliver a strong employee experience. While this might not be the futuristic ideal that some have in mind, it’s vital technology like this that can be game changers in how we operate and perform across the organisation.
As an example, by tapping into the Freshservice service catalogue, we saw a reduction in IT requests, which translated into a 10% decrease in phone calls because employees were able to easily find a resolution without having to contact the team.
You recently collaborated with two other councils to share IT service desk resources. What was the goal in this collaboration?
In 2018, a collaborative partnership was formed between the Cities of Charles Sturt (CCS), Marion (COM) and Port Adelaide Enfield (PAE) with the shared goal of greater serving our communities. To enable collaboration and knowledge-sharing across business functions, the vision is to align our IT infrastructure and applications, project by project.
As I mentioned before, one of the key opportunities for alignment has been the service desk, which is the main point of contact for IT-related requests. However, the set-up across each of the councils was very different and made effective collaboration and cross-team communication a challenge. For starters, each of us had our own service desk solutions so information from one couldn’t easily be shared with the other. On top of this, ageing legacy software provided a further challenge.
We replaced our IT service desk solutions with Freshservice which has been a game changer for us all. As well as the reduction in phone calls, we’ve also migrated over 1500 IT assets, which has transformed the way we work and manage our IT assets.
Plus, the benefits are not just in the dollar value savings. It’s helped us build a strong local network and share knowledge and skill sets more broadly, providing the foundations for sharing resources and further collaboration into the future.
What’s next for this collaboration?
We’ve since shared learnings on the benefits of fostering cross-council relationships with other South Australian councils and are now expanding the foundations for improved collaboration and communication, with a network trust project to enable the sharing of calendars and create efficiencies for staff working across the councils.
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