Transformation is great
In 2017, the council adopted the digital transformation strategy with the aim of using digital solutions and approaches to deliver services that are better targeted and more efficient.
These digital advances have enabled residents and partners to access our services via multiple platforms 24/7. But our focus isn't solely on delivering online services, it is also about improving our processes and using residents' feedback to improve our services.
The council has appointed local company Visarc as its digital partner to assist with redesigning the cont and structure of our website. This will help it to become more user-friendly by simplifying the search system, making it easier to use and complying with the government's new accessibility guidelines for public sector websites, which came into effect in September 2019.
We have held accessibility workshops with residents to gain insight on how we can further improve the website. Whilst using digital solutions to improve our services, we are also addressing digital exclusion in the borough by developing approaches aimed at helping people who are digitally excluded from accessing services online.
The digital team is exploring how we use design to explore the wider experience of service beyond their digital parts. Together, we're working to push the limits of end to end service design, working with departments across the council to truly develop empathy with our customers and the services they use.
The team is currently conducting a mapping exercise with services to enable us to identify those processes that need to be digitised. For example, the digital team, working with the Culture department, have designed an online application form for the community grants scheme – this has reduced time spent by staff retyping data into the system and improved the experience of our residents.
Residents can now also report a fly tip through the My Ashford App (removing the need for manual intervention in the back office), they can also make payments using the self-help payment machines at the Civic Centre, and can scan photographic evidence needed for benefits or council tax.
Digital is only one part of a service. However, this is an exciting period for the team working across the council as we design better services that improve the experience of residents and make a meaningful impact.