Thoughtworks: Guiding Agile approaches to digital delivery at Stockport Council

Briefly describe the initiative/ project/ service

In recent years, increasing citizen expectation and demand for more flexible access to Stockport Council services, coupled with funding reductions, means that it is imperative we adapt to fully exploit technologies and new approaches.

Our Digital by Design programme is a significant one-off investment in digital technologies and business transformation to:

• enable many council services to be delivered online
• support budget reductions
• deliver better outcomes for citizens
• build the capability to meet the future needs of the authority.

We partnered with ThoughtWorks to understand user requirements for staff in service areas as well as citizen end-users, produce redesigned service exemplars & prototypes & inform the Council’s future technical architecture.

ThoughtWorks helped us adopt Agile delivery approaches across multiple teams & people, initially to create a more sustainable delivery engine. During their partnership with us, they worked to deliver new & improved transactions & services, develop new leadership practices & change the way we ran programmes & projects. Their work has helped shape our organisation so that we are now better able to interact with citizens online.

Why do you think it should win this award?

As our chief collaborator & partner, ThoughtWorks has been instrumental in helping us deliver & embed Agile practices:
• close collaboration
• carefully targeted & managed investment in local ‘exemplars’
• a well-coordinated programme of support & communication
• leadership at all levels.

Thoughtworks have helped us create new ways of working, breaking down the barriers between departments & within teams, which means staff, including front line staff can now be involved in service creation & development. It has also created stronger two-way communications between our leadership & staff, creating a real sense of shared mission.

Because of our partnership with ThoughtWorks, we’re now delivering better services, faster & improving relationships with citizens. Each new digital tool & service that’s been introduced has been released in minimum viable form so:

● we can test the user experience to ensure they are fit for purpose
● citizens see significant and continuous improvements to Services
● that we continually deliver value early to our business

Our programme is meeting its objectives, evidenced by the take-up of our new digital tools & the time & cost savings we are already recording.

What are the key achievements?

Delivering routine services online saves time and money which can be better used to meet the more complex needs of citizens. In partnership with ThoughtWorks we have delivered:

● a new web publishing platform, new open source technology – easy to use, update & change
● Signposts – a new approach to data visualisation for Child Safeguarding
● 60% of contacts with the Council are now digital
● Reduced home visit wait times from 10 – 2 weeks
● 13,992 My Accounts opened – efficiencies saving £20,629 per year in postage/staff time over previous methods
● 2018 faulty street lights & blocked grids reported online; 4,004 reports tracked online
● 1104 online appointments made to register births & deaths saving £18,966 – £60,650 & 159 staff days
● usage up 30%; with 35% improved response time
● Mobile visits up 21%
● Groups & Events listed online rising every month
● Over 50,000 visits to BetterOff Stockport website, over 4,000 accounts created, over £12 million monetary gains assessed
● Increased citizen digital skills in Stockport via users of Contact Centre, libraries & Community hubs
● Trained more than 40 council staff with new digital delivery skills creating a sustainable responsive delivery team

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