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Warwickshire County Council (WCC) is an organisation that continuously strives to improve the quality of the service provided to their communities and individuals. One of their main priorities is their wider community’s safety, health, and independence. With growing economic, financial, and social pressures, it’s more important than ever for councils like Warwickshire to use all available resources to achieve their goals, and technological advancements are vital to improving efficiency and productivity.

This blog reflects on the initial phase of Warwickshire County Council’s business transformation journey, focusing on replacing their Firm Step Contact Centre solution with Microsoft technology. It also discusses the insights gained from this phase and how they inform phase two of the project, as discussed in a webinar hosted by Hitachi Solutions and representatives from WCC and Microsoft.

The start of Warwickshire County Council’s journey

The journey began with a collaborative discovery workshop hosted by Hitachi Solutions in partnership with WCC. During the workshop, the conclusion was that optimal efficiencies would result from replacing all front- and back-office services with a unified platform, facilitating optimised information sharing among services, departments, and residents.

Following the successful ‘go-live’ of phase one of the project, Hitachi Solutions hosted a webinar where WCC shared insights and lessons learned from the initial phase of the transformation project. We further discussed the vision and outlined plans for a complete end-to-end replacement of the organisation’s largest digital solution.

With webinar participants discussing the various limitations that could arise, such as budgetary constraints and political uncertainty in the public sector, our experts noted how the co-development approach was a key strategy to addressing these challenges and empowering WCC to pursue a digital strategy of this magnitude.

Having a complete end-to-end transformation that would bring 100% process optimisation and remove legacy solutions was integral to ‘true transformation’ for WCC.

Stephen Lugg
Head of Digital at Warwickshire County Council

Transformation challenges and how Hitachi Solutions overcame them

At any scale, a transformation journey comes with a set of hurdles. At the departmental level, there’s a risk of encountering resistance when employees are asked to shift focus from delivering essential services to participating in solution design, and attitudes may quickly pivot towards hindering digital transformation altogether.

This reality has meant that programmes with ambitious beginnings are often de-scoped in local government, as these types of solutions require significant investment to achieve genuine transformation.

To overcome these challenges and stay true to the commitment of 100% solution replacement, we measured against 5 key pillars.

Key Pillars:

Phase 1 process optimisation: Improve processes by leveraging Microsoft Dynamics 365’s out-of-the-box features without extensive overhauls of existing workflows.

Enable online payments: Introduce online payment options for all suitable services.

Close the loop: Ensure that residents are updated on their cases at every step by making information always available and easy to understand. This also reduces failure demand.

Incremental releases: Reduce time to value by deploying technology early within the project lifecycle.

Co-development: Jointly deliver solutions to enhance skills and make transformation lasting.

Simplifying the programme vision enabled WCC and Hitachi Solutions to convey the project’s objectives repeatedly, and the five pillars act as a reference for achieving measurable objectives.

Improving the customer experience

Stephen Lugg emphasised the importance of establishing a foundational platform to facilitate the integration of innovative and enhanced technologies. In the webinar, participants delved into the numerous benefits this unified platform offers. WCC residents will access their own portal securely, directing their requests to the appropriate service, with cases automatically created. They will then receive system-generated updates at each stage of their request until resolution, with all information visually displayed within their portal. We’ve coined this process as ‘closing the loop’.

Closing all loose ends and establishing a platform that holds all resident interactions, without diverting information to an alternative system, will allow WCC to deliver immediate improvement to their services and those who use them and position them to capitalise on innovative technologies, including AI, in the future. WCC’s vision is that AI and automation will return time to workers in future phases so they can focus on empathetically managing interactions with residents.

Co-development is key to success

Another element of the transformation that was instrumental to the success of phase one and will support phase two is co-development. WCC supported this approach by contributing three full-time employees to a combined delivery team. These resources have worked with the Hitachi Solutions team to deliver new solutions for ‘Highways and Complaints’ in phase one. During the webinar, it was clear that the decision to deliver the WCC solution jointly greatly increased the viability of the programme.

While diving deeper into the key takeaways from phase one, we touched on the learnings we gained from how fast new team members can learn technology and how we can all work together to train them in a collaborative working environment. All while tackling typical project pressures. Despite hurdles, we agreed that our approach had succeeded.

As we move into phase two of the engagement, WCC has established a high-performing team and gained the vital skills needed to support the platform long-term. WCC has successfully adopted 100% ownership of the solution post-go-live of phase one. Ultimately, this wouldn’t have been possible without WCC’s enthusiasm for contributing to the programme and their willingness to work collaboratively from the beginning of their journey.

Key Takeaways

Without co-development, WCC owning a percentage of the solution’s construction and building the skills needed to take ownership of the platform post-implementation, the project may not have been commercially viable. In response to budgetary challenges presented to all local authorities, Warwickshire and Hitachi Solution’s joint delivery approach has reduced construction costs and facilitated genuine platform sustainability.