Tim Pitts, Senior Partner for local and regional government at Agilisys discusses how the combination of technology and pre-emptive thinking will see local government take the lead through any second wave of Covid-19.
Despite facing unprecedented times, local government has responded unbelievably well to Covid-19. I’ve never seen the sector spin up so many processes enabled by new technologies so quickly. Programmes that would normally have taken two years were realised in weeks, thanks to a newfound agility and responsiveness.
While the work at the peak of the crisis was phenomenal it’s important this relative lull that we find ourselves in, before a second wave potentially hits, is used effectively. However deep this next wave cuts and whatever the timings, work done today will cement our ability to respond tomorrow.
Priority must be placed on evaluating what happened, what worked – and crucially what didn’t – and what that means in terms of efficiency. This runs beyond technology and into mental and emotional wellbeing, something that has been a massive focus for us as an organisation and our partners.
In addition, ensuring the potential of technology is being maximised is vital. A simple example is Microsoft Teams, which has become a well-used video conferencing tool – but that’s only a part of the story. Who is fully utilising the clever collaboration tools it offers to truly transform operational delivery, for example?
Then there’s the big one – taking time to create service resilience. A second wave will bring a spike in sick leave, parents won’t be in work, demand from those most in need will spike, not to mention the unprecedented new demand from increased levels of unemployment. Couple that with the fact everyone’s running on fumes anyway, with many teams cut to the bone, and you have a problem.
For me, authorities that are ahead of the service resilience curve are getting as much intelligence under their belt now, such as analysing customer journeys across all channels from the past few months from telephony, digital and direct. It’s critically important, second wave or not, to understand what’s happening, what the issues are and where the failure demand is. Being able to understand every conversation that’s happened, whether it’s in the contact centre or across the organisation is key.
This intelligence is being used to bring automation and citizen interaction together, looking at ways to pre-empt contact, taking out processes that don’t need to be done by a human, from reminders to automating assessments to handling paperwork. Anything assessment–based requiring manual processes can benefit from robotic process automation.
The examples of how technology can deliver the required resilience are numerous – and can help to reinforce the great work already done by local government. On that note, it’s encouraging to see many of our clients asking us to make further developments to the Helping Hands solution that we built at the onset of the crisis, so they can deal with citizen needs at a place-based level in readiness for the next wave. That’s the sort of pre-emptive thinking that will see local government take the lead through any second wave.