Over the past 18 months, we’ve been working with Dublin City Council (DCC) as part of the Digital Innovation Initiative, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies. Through this project, we surfaced a number of organisational challenges DCC face that extend beyond the scope of this project. As a result, we were commissioned to support DCC to better understand their digital maturity and to help them establish where they can best prioritise their time and effort to improve in the future.
The Digital Services Unit (DSU) is DCC’s newest team responsible for the digital agenda. They’re now beginning to shape a strategy that helps the council make sure the resident’s voice is heard, removes silos to encourage collaboration and commits to digital.
The DSU first needed a wider understanding of how prepared they were for change and partnered with us to conduct a maturity assessment. To do this, we looked at a range of capability areas, from technology to ways of working, leadership and culture, all of which gave us a richer understanding of digital. Assessments like these are great at opening up sometimes difficult conversations in a safe space and exploring further opportunities to become a digital organisation - which means doing the hard work of putting residents at the centre.
We began by running a self-assessment survey for staff and hosted workshops to understand staff experience giving us insight into the organisation’s current understanding and application of design practices and digital tools.
To understand the impact of current digital services on the community, we conducted councillor interviews. These provided the voice of councillors and residents, highlighting their individual experiences of interacting with the council.
Combined, these activities all formed part of the assessment and provided a high-level snapshot of the council’s digital maturity, which ultimately explored:
the current digital landscape across eight capability areas
recognition of the existing challenges across service areas that prevents the council from digital ways of working
opportunities as the council increase its digital maturity
Findings from the assessment revealed three crucial challenges. These included lack of a shared vision or strong advocacy for a digital journey, difficulty in communicating information from one part of the organisation to another and a need to truly understand resident experiences. We worked closely with staff to prioritise and explore potential solutions to these in our recommendations.
Throughout our time with the DSU and wider council, two opportunities also became clear. The first around keeping the momentum gained during COVID-19. The pandemic forced the council to adapt their ways of working and transfer services to the digital space, staff showed great motivation to keep up this pace of change. There was also a strong appetite for organisational change, as many staff members showed enthusiasm towards embracing digital and adapting to new ways of working.
To improve the council’s digital maturity we’re recommending their first steps focus on:
building a common understanding of what digital means, its urgency and begin investing properly in these techniques and ways of working
breaking down organisational silos, improving team collaboration and building a more joined-up experience for residents
building a consistent approach to service design and delivery that considers the needs of all residents in Dublin
As the DSU and wider DCC team build on the momentum of change they’ve seen in the last 18 months they’ll be well equipped to meet the changing needs of their community. Using the next few months to focus on their digital maturity, the council can truly begin to shape their services in a collaborative environment, building on the staff's ambition to embrace digital and continually improve experiences for all residents.