Transforming a City Government from the Outside In

Transforming Local Government presenter, The City of Aukland, New Zealand, shares how they shifted citizen behavior to use self-serve online city services and re-engineered their top 10 services.

ARTICLE | Feb 27, 2020

Lessons From Five Years in Auckland Council Digital Transformation

by City of Aukland, New Zealand

The “Before” State

Auckland Council has 10,000 employees across 9 organizations, serving 1.5 million people who can name on average 3 of the over 2,000 services the city provides. The brief for the digital transformation project was to shift the behavior of citizens to self-serve online by re-engineering the top 10 services by volume to 70% online in 3 years.

The Solution 

  1. Defined the current state by time, volume and money. 
  2. Defined our markets for types of services citizens were attempting and what ‘jobs’ those services did – we found only 5 reasons people use city services.
  3. Defined likely futures using scenarios to understand where investments would best be made, and how digital tools and experiences should be created.
  4. Tested regularly and on-going with customers of the services we were reengineering, in both online and offline ways, to fully understand the end to end journey.
  5. Created an experience to requirements to investment logic to business case map that allowed decision-makers to see what happened to cost / customer experience/time when scoping and investment decisions were made to prevent IT project managers making decisions solely based on time or budget (their responsibility) against the whole of the program (our responsibility).
  6. Created an audit tool that could be used on all 2,000 services to determine the % online we currently were. (Overall, we started at 1% - emails and downloadable PDFs; in three years, we were 77% online in the top ten services, and nearing 50% overall).

The Outcome

Utilizing Lean and Design Thinking combined methods, we located $21 million in savings over 3 years and impacted many services, including:

  • Libraries / Arts / Leisure Centers
  • City Venues / Booking
  • Parks/Rec.  & “Regional Parks” (“State Parks” are run regionally by city councils in NZ)
  • Commercial and Residential Building Permits
  • Waste and Recycling
  • Animal Control and Licensing
  • Customer Services
  • City Planning, Policy Making, and Place-Making
  • Community Development
  • Cemeteries
  • Transportation
  • Innovation Management End to End
  • City Services Dashboard and Digital Experience

Lessons Learned:  What would you like to share with others considering a similar journey?

  1. Always read the law – it helps dispel myths and many times gives agents of change empowerment knowing ‘it doesn’t HAVE to be this way.’
  2. Define the mess and the size of the prize – make it really obvious what the costs of doing nothing are.
  3. TEST – TEST – TEST with customers. Examine every part of their experience and journey, and know the journey and the problem better than anyone.
  4. Innovation barriers are always human; grow relationships and don’t shy away from conversations that bring up ‘creative tension.’
  5. Go where the problem goes; don’t stop because someone says no or at the borders of your organization. Stop when the customer goals are achieved.

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