Why a Copenhagen Danish beats a Melbourne Muffin!


A recent report from Europe states that the City of Copenhagen conducts 80% of it’s interactions with customer’s online. This is an astounding percentage when compared with online interactions in Australian Local Government.

What percentage of your council’s interactions are online? Most likely a fraction of what Copenhagen has.

It is broadly accepted that Australian local governments lag their counterparts overseas when it comes to digital transformation.  Our research shows that Australian local governments are typically 3 – 5 years behind their UK peers.

The stark realities of this are that the vast majority of councils in Australia:

  1.  Are not providing the digital services that the community can reasonably expect. Many processes remain in traditional channels. This is inefficient and the community see it as wasting their time and their money, making them increasingly irate.
  2. Are inflicting unnecessary data entry and manual processing on staff. This is leading to job dissatisfaction and staff turnover as employees seek out employers who provide more fulfilling and enjoyable work.
  3. Have resources eaten up undertaking tasks that can either be eliminated or automated. In a rate-capping environment this is putting strain on other areas of the organisation that require increased resources.

Now, imagine if you, as the CEO or senior executive of your council, could resolve the three issues above.

The experiences of your peers overseas would suggest you can.

Digital Quick Wins

At Symphony3 we believe a digital roadmap is the first step in true digital transformation. In other words, you need to know where you are going and how to get there, digitally. However, there are some common quick wins we almost always recommend for councils in parallel to working out your roadmap.

Perhaps the most obvious one is converting your Word and pdf forms to online forms. The pdf is the proverbial Muffin in the digital bakery.

Digital online forms capability is the simple missing ingredient that Copenhagen have and most councils in Australia do not. It's this simple ingredient that makes a Danish the superior shelf item in that bakery.

Digitising your online forms.

First let’s deal with the common objection, “Digitising a bad process simply makes it a bad digital process”.  Yes, on the face of it we agree with that statement. However, experience has taught us that this objection is used as a barrier to change by people who simply don’t want to change. In reality committing to digitise forms does two things:

  • It forces the organisation to review front end processes, often for the first time in many years.
  • It forces the organisation to identify the back-end processes that may need to be changed or eliminated.

By challenging and questioning the form layout and logic, the organisation will take practical steps to improve the process. We’ve seen this time and time again. Here are some examples of process improvements we have seen as a result of moving to digital on-line forms:

Common front end process improvements:

  • The elimination of irrelevant questions. (Asking the client for information that is of no value to the organisation are eliminated).
  • The introduction of auto-completion of fields. (Logged in users can have certain fields in their forms autocompleted).
  • The provision of drop downs with information. This eliminates collection of incorrect data.
  • The introduction of save functions. (Long forms may require the user to look for data and information. The council can provide the user with the option to save drafts of their form).
  • The introduction of online payments. This removes the need for a person to come to a desk or having to phone up to pay (This process is even better for yearly or monthly payments - auto-renew processes make this possible).

Common back end improvements:

Back end improvements largely result from eliminating manual processes by integrating the front end process with back end systems. Three of the most common we have established are:

  • Integrating online payments with the finance system. The benefits of doing this are quicker reconciliation of bank accounts, greater financial visibility, and elimination of mundane manual processes and manual reconciliation. This requires some work to set-up with some council systems but once the framework is in place it can be replicated across many online forms.
  • Integrating online forms with the internal CRMS (Customer Request Management System). Integrating requests made on the website directly with the CRMS mean online requests are added to the internal workflow. The benefits are:
    • Requests are received and logged more quickly.
    • Requests are pinpointed to the correct location (using integration with GIS).
    • Requests can be tracked online by the person submitting the request.
    • Transparency and accountability  - the public can be shown what council is working on and how quickly requests are being resolved. 
  • Integrating internal information to provide a single source of truth. For example, exposing internal GIS systems on online maps means using one source of data.

The Benefits.

Online forms reduce the cost of a process substantially. We estimate a mid-size Australian council can expect to very quickly see hundreds of thousands of dollars of cost savings by converting all existing pdf forms to fully interactive and integrated online forms. The savings within three to five years extend to millions of dollars of savings.

Staff can be reallocated from mundane manual processes to tasks that deliver value to the community.

In addition to the savings, you will see customer and employee satisfaction rise.

So, leave that Muffin on the shelf, digitise your on-line forms and treat yourself to a Danish!

To find out more about how Symphony3 are assisting organisations such as yours contact us today.

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