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Service design and transformation: a policy focus

Resources and reading for designing services

For your service design projects, find here some of our top resources, practical frameworks and tools, and examples of What Works – highlighting impact cases from your peers, our executive partners, webinars, and events.

We hope that by sharing this it will help you and other service designers with similar challenges across local government.  Let us know what else you need.

How rethinking local service design can boost effectiveness, productivity, and user satisfaction 

Service design and transformation in the public sector involves reimagining and refining, to better meet the needs of people, communities and places.

But rather than carry on with “more of the same,” we believe the current approach and thinking needs a major overhaul for the benefits of technology to be fully realised.  

3 key internal challenges

In supporting innovative design and transformation in the delivery of public services that meet the needs of people and communities, you face the demands of:

  1. Service design principles. Supporting leaders in co-design, co-creation and co-delivery of public services that achieve better outcomes in the communities they serve.
    This includes: maximising the potential of digital opportunities within a dynamic environment; and using service design principles to consider end to end service design service requirements.
  2. Holistic ecosystem. Finding a holistic approach.
    Focusing on all the core components, stakeholders, organisations and users that combine to facilitate the establishment and delivery of service outcomes in any given ecosystem.
  3. New technology and data insights. The need to ‘bridge to digital’.
    Embracing the role of new digital technologies and effective use of data insight in delivering better services. Making the best use of systems and to realise the full benefits of technology investments.

3 key external challenges

In a recent Computer Weekly article (published on Tuesday 6 February 2024) by Jerry Fishenden, Philip Sinclair and Paul Waller declare that digital government needs a reset (whoever wins the next general election).

Resetting digital government sets out a critical perspective on digital transformation in government services summarised in these challenges: 

  1. A daunting backlog of policy impasses: health and social care, housing, environment, transport/mobility, education, justice … 
  2. The failure of large scale digital transformation of public services.
    Is there a misunderstanding of what ‘digital transformation’ is?
  3. The automating of existing paper-based processes online. 

If we just carry on doing more of the same, we’ll continue to get what we’ve always done! 

A new holistic place-based approach is needed for service design and transformation. One that Socitm has long been advocating through its work on ethical, digital place-making.

What do you need to know?

1. Service design principles

Support leaders in co-design, co-creation and co-delivery of public services that achieve better outcomes in the communities they serve.

This will include maximising the potential of digital opportunities within a dynamic environment using service design principles to consider end-to-end service design service requirements. Foster collaboration and co-creation of end-to-end service delivery, as seen through the eyes of service users.

Find something useful here
Digital Trends 2024Technology for public good, Reimagining services
From the Resource Hub
Technology for public good: South London Partnership’s InnOvaTe ‘Internet of Things’ Programme

Reimagining services: Digital Birmingham: Rethinking smart city governance
Impact casesImprovement Service: Angus Council Change Programme
WebinarSocitm: Revolutionising Social Care with AI
From AWSExecutive Education Program in Digital Transformation for the Public Sector
What WorksA framework from the LGA: Transformation capabilities: Service Design
TrainingChange Agents Reflector [whole programme]
EventsReimagining communities and places: a journey through data, technologies and service design

St George’s House: Towards Connected Places: Insights Into Actions

2. Holistic ecosystems

Understand and address the diverse needs, expectations and preferences of all core stakeholders: residents, businesses, employees, councillors, partners and regulators. 

The approach needs to be a holistic one, focusing on all the core components, stakeholders, organisations and users that combine to facilitate the establishment and delivery of service outcomes in any given ecosystem.

Find something useful here
Digital Trends 2024Community resilience; Local and national leadership
From the Resource HubPractical placemaking collection

Leadership in turbulent times
Impact casesDigital transformation: Rochford District Council

Digital by design: how Belfast Met is driving digital transformation
What WorksUniversity of Exeter’s Doughnut economics framework; Towards a Sustainable Cornwall
TrainingPlace-Based Leadership
EventsReimagining communities and places: a journey through data, technologies and service design

St George’s House: Towards Connected Places: Insights Into Actions

3. New technology and data insights

Adoption of new technologies, methods and best practices to improve service delivery outcomes. Overcome the risk and challenges of innovation and change such us resistance, inertia and uncertainty. 

‘Bridge to digital’ – to embrace the role of new digital technologies and effective use of data insight in delivering better services, to make the best use of systems and to realise the full benefits of technology investments.

Find something useful here
Digital Trends 2024Artificial Intelligence, Harnessing data, Geospacial technologies
From the Resource
Hub
Derby City Council: Phone-based AI assistance

Transforming Lives in Birmingham: Proactive Early Intervention and Prevention
Impact casesMicrosoft: Generative AI in the public sector

Easy Read solution – Swindon Borough Council innovates with generative AI
From AWSEasy Read solution: How to use generative AI to improve inclusivity (video)

AI Masterclass Part 1: Best uses of AI for governments (video)
What WorksEnabling local digital outcomes
EventsReimagining communities and places: a journey through data, technologies and service design

St George’s House: Towards Connected Places: Insights Into Actions

Franchised digital delivery: Three pillars to success

The 2024 Gartner CIO Agenda identifies three core behaviours, which they refer to as the “pillars of the franchised digital delivery model”: co-lead, co-deliver and co-govern: 

Title: Design and evolve the Digital Delivery Franchise. Underneath this are 3 square boxes containing Co-Lead, Co-Deliver and CoGovern.

In their research, Gartner found that CIOs who are most effective at delivering business outcomes from digital initiatives co-own the responsibility with their CxO peers by adopting a ‘franchise approach’ to digital delivery. 

In summary

No technological silver bullet can solve the country’s problems, be that “digital” or “AI” or “data driven” systems. But technology can make a significant difference if integrated thoughtfully into the core “business” of governing through policy making. 

Jerry Fishenden, Philip Sinclair and Paul Waller in Computer Weekly

Making it happen  

Your service design and transformation requires working in and across places. It needs ecosystems of public service organisations to break through the policy impasses of the past and present to enable meaningful improvement in the wellbeing of your people, communities and local environments:

  • Whole system policy design, breaking free of silos and narrow focus on websites 
  • Earlier involvement in policy design – starting with service users/needs and incorporating technologies, data and procurement 
  • Harnessing data to understand deep-rooted problems and deficits – who, what, where and why? 
  • Enabling relevant education and training 
  • Applying new organisational/collaborative leadership models 
  • Changing the mindset to reduce the need for transactions/demand 

The team 

If you want to discuss more about this theme, please contact the policy team below or Socitm in general.

  • Nadira Hussain, Chief Executive Officer at Socitm
    (President from 2015 to 2016 when Head of ICT for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets)
  • Huw McKee, Head of IT and Digital Transformation for Conwy County Borough Council
    (Policy theme lead and President from 2022 to 2023) 
  • Sam Smith, Institute Director at Socitm
    (President from 2020 to 2022 when Director of Customer and Digital Services for Cambridgeshire County and Peterborough City councils)

Policy theme partner: AWS (Amazon Web Services)

3 pillars to success image taken from page 5 of Gartner’s CIO Agenda 2024.