Today’s local government and housing associations face profound financial and logistical challenges. Council budgets have continued to be cut every year, leaving fewer resources available for organizations to provide the services that local residents demand. And as the private sector innovates, and in turn, our personal lives as consumers adapt with technology in our fast-changing world, the public sector is expected to keep pace.
Collecting, processing and reporting data is essential for almost everything that local authorities do. Against all the pressures that they face, it’s important that they take advantage of technology that will allow them to deliver faster and better value than ever before. To date, over 150 UK councils have selected Microsoft Dynamics 365 as the platform that best helps them achieve this. Here’s a closer look at the ways Dynamics 365 optimises data collection and performance reporting for local authorities.
Reporting information back to central government is an unavoidable obligation for any local authority. Whether it’s housing, homelessness, benefit claims or budgets – statutory reporting responsibilities (SRRs) are a vital yet time-consuming part of a council staff’s daily work. Important as it may be, no local authority wants to dedicate more time to the task that is absolutely necessary at a time when there are fewer resources available.
Dynamics 365 eliminates much of the manual processing, rekeying and data manipulation involved in SRRs. Once data has been received into the platform, it is properly organised in a centralised and structured fashion that everyone can access. That means that operational and statutory reporting data is easier to view, visualise and reproduce in the requisite formats required for upload to ministerial departments.
Keeping residents informed is another vital yet time-intensive part of a local authority’s obligations, and there are plenty of ways that Dynamics 365 can help them create efficiencies here. Key to this is to create a unified platform that automatically provides residents and staff with the information they need when they need it.
Consider what happens when a local resident makes a blue badge application; it progresses through various stages of review by multiple individuals before being approved or rejected. When the resident logs in online, Dynamics 365 allows them to easily see how their registration is progressing through each stage, and how long each stage can be expected to take. As one worker in the council finishes their approval task, the system automatically updates and lets the resident see that a stage has been completed.
This reduces the need for individual workers to spend valuable time continually communicating updates to residents, and provides a better customer experience as they have not had to chase the council to check if the application has been received or to see how it is progressing This in turn also decreases unnecessary contact in to the organisation meaning staff have more time to devote to task completion and phone lines are less busy.
It is essential that local authorities perform their statutory responsibilities to the highest standard whilst adhering to service specific regulations. The processes that ensure watertight compliance can be time-consuming – and prone to human error. It’s therefore vital to reduce the time spent manually reviewing compliance without compromising its security whilst guiding people through the process they need to follow through guided screens and not become reliant on staff to know the process ins and outs.
Consider, for instance, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. Any member of the public has a legal right to make this request and once submitted, organisations have 20 working days to respond. Working towards these legally mandated deadlines takes a significant portion of any authorities’ time and resources.
Dynamics 365 makes the management and attainment of meeting these deadlines easier and allows local authorities to use fewer resources in doing so. Here, all data is stored in a centralised location, with a single version of the truth which makes finding, compiling and presenting the right information quickly and more streamlined. As well as this, the system automatically tracks when an FOI request has been filed, by whom, and how close to the SLA deadline it is. The system provides a structured way to handle these cases that all staff are able to follow, and greatly reduces human error as well as highlighting cases nearing the SLA that need action thus avoiding service failures.
In local government, there’s no task or responsibility that isn’t in some way influenced by the successful collection and processing of data. Dynamics 365 provides organisations with the opportunity to accelerate and improve any business process
Many local government authorities have already taken advantage of Dynamics 365 that can be configured to adapt to the unique requirements of any situation in any organisation. For others, however, there can be a number of factors that prevent them from beginning their Dynamics 355 journey.
Deploying a Dynamics 365 platform is not quite as simple as switching the ‘on’ button. Such a powerful set of capability needs to be carefully adapted to the unique needs of individual organisations. At Hitachi Solutions, we focus on helping local authorities build the adaptive, streamlined platforms they need, to provide top-quality local services. As a result, we have invested significant Local Government knowledge, expertise and time into the development of our Dynamics 365 Local Government Accelerators that help organisations at speed, deliver a consistent service approach irrespective of channel.