Ready to innovate: How local government is responding to budget pressure
Microsoft partner CPS walks through its efforts to empower local government as part of a series that highlights local government innovators across the UK
As local government across the UK responds to the 40% real terms cut in funding over the course of this parliament, how are individual councils reacting?
According to policy think tank NLGN, many councils believe the cuts represent an opportunity to innovate. In a recent survey of 65 councils, respondents appeared confident about the potential of innovation for solving the Public Sector-wide challenge of doing more with less.
This confidence can largely be attributed to a growing awareness of the need for innovation in the sector. For example, of the respondents surveyed by NLGN, one third said they expected coming up with new ideas and ways of doing things will help them meet 50% or more of their cuts targets.
Furthermore, the majority revealed a positive view of their council’s ability to innovate; they believe their colleagues can produce the ideas and the processes to deliver services in cheaper and more effective ways.
However, while there is confidence in the capability and desire to innovate, many local authorities and councils still face a number of barriers which slow down or even prevent innovations from getting off the ground.
What are the common obstacles to local government innovation?
At CPS, we have spoken to hundreds of representatives from local government and hear many of the same challenges cited as a barrier to transformation.
So, what are they?
Lack of time or money: turning ideas into action requires time and money, and when these are already stretched, finding the resources to support innovation can hold back ideas and stunt growth.
Employees aren’t engaged: all too often, employees simply clock in and clock out. They rarely have the opportunity nor the forum to share new ideas and so feel that even if they do come up with interesting solutions to problems, there is no one willing or able to listen.
A lack of process: when employees raise new ideas, there is often sadly a lack of process for turning those ideas into action – innovations are appreciated and recognised, yet rarely go much further because there is no fixed method of making this happen.
Silos across the organisation: all too often, different parts of the council don’t really speak – say your refuse collection team and your planning department. As a consequence, possible crossovers – which could see them sharing skills, ideas and solving problems together – just don’t happen.
Overcoming the barriers to innovation
Of course, there is no ‘silver bullet’ solution to many of the challenges local government faces. Nonetheless, by fostering an environment which is open to innovations and which supports new ideas and helps them flourish, local government can improve its ability to innovate.
One way to do this is through technology and digital solutions.
Take, for example, edison365.
Built on Office 365 – meaning councils which have already invested in Microsoft’s cloud platform can simply ‘plug in and play’ – edison365 is a leading ideation and innovation management tool that makes it much easier to harness the collective expertise of council employees and drive transformation in a more effective manner.
For example, edison365 supports innovation through:
• Providing a structured but flexible framework which helps you turn ideas into visible and actionable plans.
• Helping you crowdsource ideas by engaging everyone in the organisation to contribute solutions to problems.
• Boosting employee engagement by understanding and recognising the contributions of those employees who come up with ideas.
• Supporting councils to refine ideas in a collaborative manner thanks to its open and transparent way of showing how ideas are progressed.
• Designed to work on any device – from a desktop to an iPad – edison365 has a user-friendly and attractive interface, making it easy and intuitive for anyone to use.
To discover more about edison365, contact CPS today.
To learn more about how your organisation can overcome the obstacles to innovation with Office 365, register for our free webinar.