Digital Transformation and GIS


Digital by design and digital by default are two of the few credible responses to the ongoing budget cuts required by the public and Not for Profit (NfP) sectors​. In many authorities, the land and property domain is a prime candidate for the better use of ICT to achieve this objective. Our recent research has shown that efficiencies and service improvements can be realised in a number of ways.

Top amongst these are: transformation of business processes through simplification and greater horizontal integration; optimal implementation of 'channel shift' through mobile and social media; exploiting the potential to rationalise software platforms and shared service delivery between organisations.

Socitm has created an expanded Land, Property, Planning and GIS Practice Group with a specific mission to help local public service organisations identify and deliver savings and service improvements in your land and property service areas. To advise you on how achieve significant operational savings, we have assembled a group of expert practitioners in this field with deep experience working both inside local authorities and for system vendors. We focus on four key strategies:

Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation often focuses on the financial and customer relationship systems and misses the value that can be derived from applying the same principles to Planning, Property and GIS. In our experience, a top-level review of existing business processes will readily reveal multiple opportunities to realise efficiency savings.

Fundamentally, local authority services still rely on paper-based processes. Working in this way is not only inefficient, but also restrains staff. Transforming to a process which is based upon the principle of 'digital-by-default' can open the door to more effective officers, a more efficient service, quicker turn-round times, and a smaller paper footprint within a Council. Digital transformation no longer represents a 'step into the unknown'.

Our team have been at the forefront of work with some of largest authorities, and can bring thought leadership to your challenges.

Channel Shift

As consumers, we have all lived through and adapted to 'channel shift' strategies by commercial organisations, such as digitally booking tickets, or ordering groceries. Efficiencies are realised by the service provider as the customer is interacting with the supplier using a medium of the provider's choice.

Local authorities have been slower to adopt such tactics, and remain reluctant to encourage and persuade their customers to use mobile devices. Informed by Socitm's respected Better Connected survey, we can advise on a package of actions designed to increase the proportion of customers using web-based functionality in the land and property service areas.

Rationalising ICT assets

Most local authorities have a multitude of back office computer applications, but few have optimised their use. Some authorities now have a 'zoo' of systems, some with different levels of real or promised integration and other operating as isolated desktop systems. Many officers still believe that they are working to support the computer systems, rather than being in control! One of the key results of our advice is the opportunity to rationalise the software products deployed. 

Shared Services

Whilst merging the respective planning services of adjacent Councils is rarely seen to be an acceptable way forward, there are opportunities for some facets of service delivery to be procured, or delivered on a shared basis, thus realising costs savings

There are many ways we can help including:

  • Process Transformation reviews
  • Rationalising Software and Data Systems
  • Strategy development
  • Developing business cases
  • Identifying shared service opportunities

 To order this service, or for more details please contact us by email or by telephone on 08 8550 7916

Software Rationalisation at West Dorset, Portland and Purbeck Councils

West Dorset District Council and Portland and Purbeck Borough Council formed a partnership in 2013 designed to help drive efficiencies in their operations. One particularly important part of the partnership programme has been focused in Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

The council took a decision to rationalise their planning development systems by standardising on the Acolaid system from Idox.  However, in common with many authorities, they realised that their planning system was reliant upon a number of related systems including Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Local Land and Property Gazetteers (LLPG) and systems for processing Local Land Charges (LLC).

These systems were delivered by a disparate set of vendors, leading to incompatibilities of versions, functionality and the need for staff with a very diverse range of skills. All this in addition to higher than necessary software licensing and support costs.

Socitm Advisory were able to help by bringing together experts with deep experience in planning, GIS and LLC. The team were able to quickly understand the way in which the various software components were being used, and we able to make an immediate impact by suggesting improvements to working practices based on their experience in other authorities. The advisory team then engaged with the vendors in order to address current issues and get a clear picture of the forward plans, particularly in relation to integration.

In some cases, this involved contacts with senior management in these organisations, facilitated by personal relationships built up based on trust and integrity in pervious roles and assignments. Two reports was presented to the customer management with recommendations of rationalisation to a single GIS platform and a migration plan covering data, systems and training. 

The cost of the complete exercise was under $20,000 and was completed within two months. Armed with the information and advice, the authority management and staff have been able to take the project forward without further external support.