Local governments currently undergoing digital transformation must overcome a shortage of adequately skilled resources to successfully implement their programs, according to a new KPMG report.

The Customer and technology transformation in Local Government Report compiled responses from 228 attendees at the public sector network’s local government transformation series in Australia and New Zealand. 

A lack of clear leadership and insufficient financial collaboration to deliver the program of work were identified as the second and third most common obstacles.

The report noted, “A successful delivery of a transformation program obviously requires bringing together a range of unique skill sets across a variety of disciplines, including project management, change management, customer experience and user experience design, solution architecture, data migration, integration, and systems analysts. No single council has all these skills to hand, nor does Local Government have a lot of free capacity or funding to release existing resources full time.”

Toni Jones, partner and local government lead at KPMG Enterprise said the successful delivery of transformation programs requires bringing together a range of unique skills sets across a variety of disciplines. 

“Councils which can tap into both internal and external resources will be the ones that overcome both availability issues and the lack of in-house technical skills.”

Tarnya McKenzie, head of customer experience and transformation, City of Port Phillip said, “There is an assumption that transformation equals technology only, and doesn’t take into account the internal cultural shift that also has to be included. Transformation encompasses new ways of working and thinking, not just tech. That’s our first challenge. 

“The second is that at some point, the transformation process will have to be incorporated into BAU and can no longer be kept separate from it. This can also be disruptive. Every council transformation has to encompass both the practicalities of implementation and the organisational ability to support it.”

Areas for transformation

Improving customer experience, digitisation and modernising technology are the prime areas for transformation in local government. 

KPMG explains the local government transformation road map encompasses three key steps on the journey to full transformed council, including program strategy development, program business case development and program operational rollout. 

From the survey, 51 per cent said their council is in strategy or business case development for their transformation programs while 37 per cent of survey respondents stated they were in operational roll out.

The majority of Victorian and Queensland respondents stated they were in strategy development phase; the majority of NSW survey respondents stated they were in business case development phase; and the majority of WA and SA survey respondents stated they were in operational roll out phase.

Jones said, “Council ‘customers’ are used to obtaining information, goods and more at the click of a button. They increasingly compare and expect the same personalised experience from their interaction with councils that they get from other public and private sector providers. 

“To provide citizens with the customer experience they expect, councils need to be seamlessly connected from front office to back. To do this, a holistic approach is vital, right from the business case stage.”

Despite an effort to transform, the report identified ongoing inefficiencies on digital channels. For example, many forms are digital on one end only, requiring a lot of manual work on the part of the organisation to process them. Fixing this issue requires connecting the front end (website) all the way through to the back office systems such as CRM, payments, finance and document management.

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