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    • Why the time is right for local authorities to embrace low-code solutions.

      Arguably, Australian local authorities have faced more extreme challenges in the last couple of years than they have in their long history, and are now facing “social and economic challenges unseen in peace-time Australia,” according to ALGA President Linda Scott[1]. Hot on the heels of the pandemic came flooding for many in the east, and bushfires in the west. Local government has and is responding flexibly and with innovation. Communities have shown that they are, well, communities; councils have supported local businesses in their pivot to new ways of working; and millions have been poured into capital works and other local employment-generating programs.

      At the same time, many local authorities – both regional and metro – are faced with funding challenges. City of Sydney lost $75 million in six months over Covid, while others are “are teetering on the edge of a fiscal cliff” [2] and more than half of all councils have large or very large staff shortages[3]. Concurrently, they are also trying to deliver exceptional customer experience to their ratepayers, partners and other stakeholders.

      What does this have to do with low-code? Well, as technology solutions have been brought into play to help with many issues faced by local authorities, they have also had challenges of their own. Legacy systems have proliferated, leading to data silos. ‘Home-grown’ systems from spreadsheets to ad-hoc solutions have emerged in different departments. Processes remain stubbornly manual, or inefficient and poorly ‘automated’. Platforms purchased years ago cost more to maintain than the value they deliver.

      Low-code platforms (such as Appian, of which Procensol is a partner), solve many of these issues.  A solution such as Appian offers a single, comprehensive platform that allows local authorities to cost-effectively build workflows and processes to meet their specific requirements without being tied to practices dictated by out-of-the-box software. It also enables councils to remove data silos, making data usable – and useful – across multiple sources, without it needing to be moved from its current location. And for organisations looking to move to the cloud, or that already have cloud strategies, it works on-premise, in the cloud or in hybrid environments.

      In terms of applications, numerous capabilities demanded by local authorities have already been developed on low-code platforms. Examples include dynamic case management, grants management, acquisition management, onboarding, document management, and correspondence and communication management. In each case, applications can be tailored to a specific council’s needs and processes.

      This might all sound complicated, expensive, and frankly, daunting. But this is the inherent beauty of low-code platforms: you can (indeed, we encourage you to) start small – both in terms of investment and project size. No existing applications or systems need be harmed in the making of a low-code project, so a council can ‘dip a tie in the water’ to prove ROI and efficiency, and they can do it at minimal expense. And did I mention that backend process design and management and front-end

      user interface capabilities are tightly integrated, meaning that any progress made behind the scenes can be reflected in an improved experience for citizens and partners.

      So low-code can automate processes that are currently manual, and other efficiency measures; and enable the sharing of data across disparate sources for improved decision-making. But on top of this, it improves ratepayer engagement through functionality such as digital self-service and personalised interactions. All for an investment that surprises many CIOs when I discuss it with them.

      As Justin Hanney, CEO of City of Melbourne puts it, “Embracing the opportunities for long lasting productivity improvements through new ways of working via digital transformation has been a continued focus for our leadership.” [1] Many other councils are also embracing these opportunities, and are turning to low-code platforms to do so.

      [1] Quoted in Davidson, ‘Australian Local Government CEO Index 2021’

      [1] https://alga.com.au/app/uploads/alga-election-priorities_web.pdf

      [2] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-12-03/local-governments-face-financial-future/100672458

      [3] https://www.lgcplus.com/politics/workforce/widespread-workforce-shortages-revealed-16-02-2022/

  • About the Author

    Dan Cooke

    Managing Director, Australia and Co-founder

    Dan Cooke is the Managing Director of Procensol Australia and one of the founding members of Procensol UK. Dan is responsible for managing the operations of the Procensol Australia office, including delivery of high profile consulting projects. Under Dan’s leadership, Procensol Australia has successfully established a strong presence in the Australian market, most notably with the award-winning “Connect” project for the Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and heritage Protection. (A project that has attracted attention from government departments nationwide and from the global Appian business). With 15 years of IT and BPM experience, Dan has led many enterprise improvement and digital transformation projects in both the UK and Australia.

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