Working together to improve Services for the General Public: How can Small to Medium Sized Businesses and Local Government improve their interactions?

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In this blog, Hilary Simpson, the Founder of Sleuth Cooperative, a not for profit organisation that aims to deliver simple solutions to complex social problems – using technology and information, talks about some of the issues that small and medium sized businesses come up against when trying to work with Local Government, as well as the issues that Local Government face when working with business to improve services for the general public:

I was very lucky to be invited to a Society of IT Managers (SOCITM) Event in Duxford recently. It was crystal clear that software and services buyers in Local Government recognise the benefits and the energy that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) bring – their cutting edge innovation to the redesign of public services, that’s tried and tested in existing partnerships. Now we want to amplify that effect to make change happen faster; for Local government to spend less time reinventing the wheel – more time doing ‘what works’.

And it’s not just procurement processes that block progress – we all know that procurement frameworks are clunky.

One insight from SOCITM East was that there needs to be much more time for reflection and becoming aware of the very latest innovations before changing frontline service design. Local Government is missing opportunities and in some cases rushing to put functional specifications in place that, sadly, just replicate existing ‘as is’ ways of working. In other words – looking to the past rather than the future.

The focus needs to be on outcomes for customers, rather than procedures.

The second insight is that SMEs, too, need to do their homework. Getting time face to face with service leads is very hard to do. They are busier than ever. Are there ways around this? Perhaps a resource bank of videos where frontline staff describe the outcomes they are trying to achieve?

That’s my take on it – now we need your input on what has worked – creative problem solving ideas – please bring them to our upcoming event “Engaging SME Tech Innovators with Local Government change agents”, being held on the 11 May 2018, 10:30 – 16:30, at the University of Birmingham.

The event is going to look at behaviours, relationships, trust and contrasting organisational cultures across different sectors.

Some of us can straddle the divide. We have worked for years in Local Government or the Public Sector. Please come along and share your experience and expertise so that we can improve the interchange between Business and Local Government.

The views expressed in this analysis post are those of the authors and not necessarily those of City-REDI or the University of Birmingham.

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