Ashfield Council’s digital transformation team aspires to make every service available to residents online. Serving four distinct community areas, they’re an ambitious and enterprising council with a clear vision. To achieve it, the team needed a solution that would enable them to build apps quickly without much technical support — delivering easy-to-use services with limited resources.
Mapping out what digital transformation looks like
As a team, they discussed whether to buy ready-made solutions or create their own. Their preference was to build their own solutions, which they could do with low-code.
We want to lead on digital, with solutions that are pleasing and accessible for customers, and we want to use cutting edge technology to make every service easy for customers to use.
— Vicky Green, Digital Programme Manager for Corporate Services and Transformation, Ashfield District Council
Low-code enabled rapid app builds without much technical support. This is good for the business side of the council and complies with their IT and security policies. At first, there was a lot to learn. As with all new skills and processes, there were a few bumps in the road. They were not just shifting of old processes to new tech, transformation was more like a process of continuous improvement and managing expectations.
As a #localdigital #digitaldeclaration signatory Ashfield has a goal to share transformation progress with other councils. App-in-a-week is a practical way to live out these values. In February 2021, Ashfield joined a Netcall Community build with three other councils and the Environmental Health Inspections module was built in a week. Ashfield has benefitted from Netcall’s Community Forum and the opportunity to share apps with other councils.
The plan is to enhance the Residents’ Portal, adding more services and an online calendar of bin collection dates. It’s ambitious but it will bring useful savings on paper and printing. Some of this work is already under way.
By customising Netcall’s app, they have been able to roll out solutions quickly – updating them as the Council’s needs evolve – to deliver solutions like a new IT helpdesk.
Ashfield Council’s digital transformation tips
Understand the big picture
Have a direction and a plan, and know what the expectations are. Also remember, that it does not all have to be done at once – new features can be pushed out as they are ready.
Your Netcall project manager is a useful resource too – there’s lots of help available.
It's low-code, not no-code
Before you start work, be sure to have a dedicated team, even if it’s a small team, with dedicated time. We recommend that you consider who is undertaking the business analysis and who has coding experience, and get some good documents to help you on your journey. It’s good to have standard ways of working, testing procedures and a definition of “done”.
Look to community
When you are starting out, it is good if you can look to a community for answers and grow your skills. Look at what others are doing, share ideas and even share solutions. We found the Netcall Community to be a great resource where we could get specialised answers to our questions from other developers. It was reassuring to have access to this information. The more this is used, the better.
We are prioritising the digital roadmap for residents and the team are currently working on a two-year Liberty Create development plan. The plan is to replace more of our apps with Liberty low-code solutions.
- Environmental reporting app delivered in 1 week
- Rapid app build with little technical support
- Compliance with IT and security policies
- 24/7 digital services for residents
- Easy, efficient resident reporting solution
- Boosted productivity
- Automated appointments scheduling and updates
- Sharing digital apps in AppShare
The use of low-code has caused a ripple effect throughout the council, with more and more departments coming forward to update their systems and processes.