The vast majority of councils’ digital self serve systems are window dressing, with citizens paying for staff to rekey data they have already provided online, according to a new report.
A survey of local authority staff by supplier NDL software found that 44% of councils pay staff to rekey more than half the data entered in systems dubbed “self serve”.
It said that the issue is costing councils an average of £100,000 a year.
Declan Grogan, managing director of NDL Software, said: “Sadly the vast majority of organisations have only implemented in sparsely selected areas and most are papering over the cracks by using manual labour to present allegedly end-to-end ‘digital services’.
“There has been a good deal of noise in political areas which has created an impression of activity, when the truth is that savings have simply not been achieved.”
The report said that in most contact centres, requests are being recorded on a CRM system before being passed to departments for manual entry onto other systems.
Often, citizens have to be contacted again because staff can’t deal with the service request at the first opportunity, Grogan said.
In addition, the manual reprocessing of citizen data leads to data errors creeping in, and mean that data insights needed to improve services are not immediately available, he said.
More than a quarter of councils are taking a departmental, rather than a corporate approach to e-forms, the research found.
“Sometimes they are forced down this path by individual back-office systems which have integral e-form packages,” the report said.
Senior management often have little idea of how their digital services work, and are under the mistaken impression that their digital services have transformed back office operations, the report said.
“Perhaps the most worrying part of the general picture is that those responsible for designing the service delivery structures of the future are either unaware of, or unwilling to face, an overarching integration problem,” the report said.
And it said failure to address the issue would hamper efforts to effectively share services with other organisations.
NDL’s survey also found many instances of councils implementing technology for its own sake, without a clear business case, such as the acquisition of tablets and mobiles.