Capita Blog: making public sector productivity practical for councils

CCN Blogs | 30 August 2022

Productivity in the UK is currently a hot topic of conversation, However, it’s slowed down dramatically in recent years, and yet, is vital to levelling up – for boosting economic growth, creating jobs and contributing to a better quality of life for citizens.

The public sector represents about 20% of the country’s GDP and is a key driver of productivity growth. So, how can we realistically improve productivity levels in the sector to create better outcomes for all? We explore this in our latest report – Making Public Sector Productivity Practical – compiled in partnership with The Productivity Institute’s Professor Bart van Ark.

Improving productivity

Topping the productivity ‘how-to’ list was technological innovation, together with adaptive business design and the creation of an agile workforce. As a consulting, transformation and digital services business we couldn’t agree more – we’re passionate about providing solutions to government and local councils to help you run and improve your services for the public.

Most people who work in the public sector do so because they have an ingrained public service ethos – a desire to work in a service-oriented profession that helps people and makes society a better place. It’s safe to say that they haven’t become civil servants to be a cog in a machine or part of a production line, undertaking transactional and repetitive tasks on a daily basis. Instead, your people are at their best when they’re building relationships and engaging with your customers – and this requires time.

Your people, processes and technology

Digital transformation is critical to driving productivity in public sector organisations, simplifying, streamlining and enhancing the delivery of products and services. Automation, artificial intelligence, process improvement and new technology platforms drastically reduce the need for human involvement in transactional tasks. They’re key to liberating your people from the repetitive processes, internal meetings and paperwork that are keeping them unnecessarily busy.

Investing in infrastructure and technology gives your staff the time and energy they need to spend on building productive relationships and making the most of their human capabilities. As an example, tech innovations can support and raise productivity at the backend of the service delivery chain through shared service centres and digital platforms. This helps you to free up resources and reallocate scarce human capital to focus on frontline services. It also creates capacity within local authorities to divert funding to levelling up initiatives, as well as creating new employment opportunities. And, together with the flexible hybrid approach to office-based working that local authorities have implemented, this makes employment much more accessible for those whom office locations and time may previously have been a barrier.

Cultivating a culture of innovation

A key challenge with digital technology is that its adoption often requires a fundamental transformation of business innovation processes. Digital transformation leverages new tech, and the data it generates connects organisations, physical assets, processes and people. It combines information from different sources, improves communication flows and devises more effective interventions for people. As such, it requires tangible capital investments but also major intangible expenditures, such as an organisation-wide redesign and the building of a forward, future-thinking culture.

For government, transformational change is often born out of a crisis or disaster that requires immediate intervention. During the pandemic for example, the National Health Service responded to pressures on resources by accelerating digital strategies such as telemedicine. Governance processes and patient workflow procedures in hospitals were simplified to free up capacity for covid treatments. Necessity can indeed become the mother of innovation, but for those organisations that had already invested in new, digital ways of working, their response was far more effective. So, don’t wait for a crisis to hit before implementing the technology you need to be better, faster and more productive. Your people, your customers and your business will thank you for it.

Paul Abraham, Managing Director and Client Partner, Capita Local Public Service

Download the full report HERE     

For more practical insights from Paul Abraham, tune into the productivity puzzles podcast where he is joined by Stephen Aldridge, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Anna Smart, London Borough of Camden.