Saturday, December 26, 2009

10 Things Local Authories Could Do to Reduce Costs & Improve Services in 2010

Being deeply involved with the Social, Business and Communication processes that exploit the Internet; my thinking for 2010 is influenced by my thoughts when looking back over 2009. Although no expert I put my brain waves down here and invite your views.

The 'crash of 09' have had a major impact on me personally, but it seems that in-spite of all the talk about the need for change in, Banking, Finance, State Bodies, Employment, and Education, I don't see many new strategies. Reductions in the number of employee's seems to be the only strategy, and I believe this is bad for everybody.

So here are my Ten Suggestions to Local Authorities in 2010.

1. Dump Marketing Spend:

A lot of promotion is undertaken by councils and other state bodies. Much is wrapped in talk of requirements to 'inform', 'consultant' and 'educate', when it is really only self-promotion. I don't have insights into why this happens, but I see is all the time. This money should go to genuine 'inform', 'consultant' and 'educate' campaigns. The aims must be set before the campaign, and afterwards the results must be measured and published. Get small projects to build on each other, rather than big bang ideas that never achieve the original goal.

2. Publish information 100% electronically:

After years of prevarication this should be year to set a timeline to implement paper-free processes. Every process that is planned to use paper should have a lifecycle plan to move it to a paper-free one. Given suggestion #1 these types should be the first to move. From #3 'inform', 'consultant' and 'educate' publications should use school and university resources to design and produce the material.

3. Involve the Community:

There are many keen groups in the electorate that would get involved in ways that would improve the effectiveness of 'money spent'. These groups can provide resources for consulting, design, production, and manpower for action.

4. Use social media to build links.

The Community does not need to be ‘local’ in a geographic sense. The use of social media allows like thinking and common interest groups to be formed nationwide and even worldwide. The groups should highlight best practice and new innovations that can be implemented locally, easily and quickly. Opportunities for shared services such as website provision and maintenance will come out of such groups. Social Networks also enable #2, #3 and #4

5. Use internet for referenda, polls and feedback.

Implement a much tighter loop when involving the Community, existing processes often involve a "draft, survey, final process". This does not achieve true involvement with the community as it takes too much time and the Community has on "moved on" before any results are seen. The process should move to "survey, draft, survey, draft, vote on final". Use of the Internet, Web and Mobile communications is needed to meet speed and cost requirements of such a process. Currently much information is passed to the community via third parties, modern communications will increasingly provide a direct bi-directional link. Where individuals do not have direct access to the Internet, they will need to be linked to this information stream. This could be done using 'advocates' that have mobile access and attend such get-togethers as senior coffee mornings, church meetings, PTA meetings, etc.

6. Use GPS and Geo-Location technology and data to enhance and improve service supply:

Many new phones come with built in Geo-location and Application functionality, this should utilised to provide a more automated, faster and accurate service whenever location is important to the service.

8. Use the youth to plan the future:

The youth have the availability, inclination and desire to travel, learn and experiment. Later people have more ties, less stamina and reduced desire to travel, but while many still want to learn and experiment. Many want to reap the rewards of earlier investments. State service hubs must take advantage of these differences.

9. Use the seniors to inform the Youth:

Seniors have many years of experience, have been through economic and business cycles many times, they have done things the youth wish to do, and wish to do the things the youth are doing. This knowledge needs to be passed on to the youth and the interchange of knowledge may become a two way process. Their experience can inform business processes to help reduce waste, obsolete processes, and improve their effectiveness.

10. Finally:

Resolve that in 2010 a sea change will be seen by rate payers, providing improved services at reduced cost to local tax payers and creating hi-speed and bi-directional links to the local community, and to involve the wider community in ways that can impact locally in a win-win sense.

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