A digital journey

Stockport is designing its services for a digital age through the eyes of its residents

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a tech expert.

But that doesn’t matter, because our digital transformation programme is as much about culture change as technology. It’s how we are shaping our organisation for the future and ultimately ensuring we are fit and able to respond to whatever is around the corner.

Council services have often evolved over time, responding to new legislation, technology, studies, insights or learning, resulting in service experiences that aren’t always cohesive or reflective of individuals’ needs. 

In Stockport, we are now putting people at the heart of what we do, so services are experienced and designed through the customer’s eyes.

Our digital transformation programme is as much about culture change as technology

We talk about customers, but people often have no choice but to interact with the council. We also know they are often used to very slick service experiences elsewhere in their lives, so it’s our responsibility to ensure council services meet 21st century expectations.

Digital weaves through this but, in Stockport, our focus is on designing with people for a digital age, meaning that we look at all aspects of people’s experience of dealing with the council, to see how we can improve our services.

A great example has been our work on fostering where we have improved our fostering web pages, online enquiry form and case management system, based on insights from research and testing. This included interviews with foster carers and staff, competitor analysis, and the use of ‘empathy maps’ and ‘personas’ to understand how we could better meet our internal and external users’ needs (see bit.ly/34kuym6).

What started as a digital transformation programme has evolved into organisational-wide change. We are redesigning our services and changing the way we work with our residents, businesses and communities. This is everyone’s responsibility, from elected councillors to strategic managers and frontline staff.

In Stockport, our Digital Inclusion Alliance has already helped more than 5,000 adults to build their basic digital skills and develop the online confidence they need for everyday life (pictured, above).

We are helping to build the workforce that Stockport needs now, when 90 per cent of jobs require basic digital skills, as well as giving our residents the ability to adapt to future opportunities and specialist digital roles in the technology industry across Stockport and the broader Greater Manchester region.

We’ve invested in building the technology skills of our own workforce to give us the capability to address future changes and support further transformational change. We’ve learned ‘agile techniques’ and ‘lean thinking’ to create IT processes that are fast moving, and we have placed user need at the heart of everything we do.

We signed up to the Local Digital Declaration and collaborate with other public bodies, such as Essex County Council and Leeds City Council, pooling our collective ability and resource, to overcome common challenges to better effect for all.

I’m really passionate about the journey of change we are taking with the people of Stockport. Councillors are on the frontline with residents and have a huge role to play to champion  both the council’s online services and advocate learning digital skills.

Cllr Wilson will be talking about digital transformation at one of a series of free LGA local government data and digital transformation masterclasses in January and February in Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle and London. To find out more and book your place, please visit https://bit.ly/34phN91. For further information about Stockport’s digital journey, or to get in touch if you would like to collaborate, please visit www.digitalstockport.info.

More in this section: