Digital Local Government: Learning from each other

Objective Collaborate 2017 session highlights


I’ve spent many years helping organisations make better use of their information and managing programs to drive digital transformation, around Australia and the world.

Everywhere, I see organisations experiencing the same challenges with the transition to digital:

  • How do you get started and build support?
  • Once you’ve started, how do you grow and extend the reach of digital… with existing systems, capabilities and budget?

So I’m really passionate about how we can work better together, across and between sectors, to share lessons we’ve learned and problems we’ve solved – and not keep reinventing the same wheels. That’s one of the reasons why I think the ANZ Local Government Digital Maturity Index (DMI) is so interesting.

The DMI is a benchmarking tool for local government authorities (LGAs). You can assess your own digital capability and compare your progress with others of a similar size, makeup or location.

It’s based on a survey run by Government News, which in 2017 was sponsored by Objective.

The survey questions covered four different aspects of transitioning to digital:

  • Strategy and policy: Defined plans and programs to direct digital transformation and information governance
  • External customer services: How ratepayers can interact digitally with council
  • Internal processes: How staff can interact digitally with each other.
  • Performance metrics and standards: Measuring progress and making use of industry best-practice models

Participating councils rated their capability on a scale from ‘No Awareness’ at the lowest level of maturity, through to ‘Optimised’ at the highest level. These ratings were then converted into a score out of 100.

At the end of October, Government News released a report aggregating the survey responses and providing an overview of trends across the sector, broken down by region, size and by the Australian Classification of Local Government (ACLG) code. Participants received an individual report to compare their progress with peers.

Across all respondents, the overall index is 56.4. The digital journey has begun but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

There are different levels of maturity across the regions. Queensland is leading the pack with an overall index of 62.5 and Western Australia is a close second.

There are also differences in where councils are focusing digital attention. Most effort so far has been applied to External Customer Services. The least amount of effort has been directed towards Digital Strategy and Policy.

The findings show that most local government authorities in Australia and New Zealand have started on their digital journey but digital transformation is generally still in the early stages.

90 percent of respondents agreed that digital is the way of the future. But only 20 percent believe their authority is doing enough to drive change. So there’s a strong desire for more progress.

New technologies, new skills and new ways of doing business require strategy and leadership. LGAs identified several common challenges in their transition to digital delivery and operating models. There are also clear opportunities for improvement.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be digging into these findings and blogging more about the challenges and opportunities for digital transformation in local government.

Get involved in the survey next year to assess your progress. Share the report and encourage others to participate because more responses help everyone to plan and improve.

Follow this link to read the full report and register for updates, further analysis and information about the 2018 Digital Maturity Index.

Sonya Sherman, Industry Solutions Principal

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From the author: Sonya Sherman