A Wilkie presented the Digital Strategy, Communication Strategy and People Strategy, noting that they should provide the foundation for both transformation and delivery programmes. Due to being in a rapidly changing environment, items may need to be updated in future, and members were asked to take the strategies collectively and understand the need for agility whilst they are implemented. Delivery programmes are in place for most with development ongoing where required.
First looking at the Digital Strategy, A Wilkie advised that they need to harness the opportunities that digital presents to deliver efficient and effective services for their communities and businesses. This requires focus on internal processes, service design to avoid jumping to solutions, and making strategic decisions, such as reusing equipment and systems where possible. There will be a move towards the cloud, mobile first to allow officers to work away from the office, and having an IT system that focuses on how residents interact with the council.
M Rawdon next looked at the People Strategy, noting that it sets out to enable the workforce to have the greatest impact on meeting corporate objectives and DBC's transformation journey. There will be a focus on recruitment attention, as well as developing skills to support the current change process. It recognises the organisation’s broader transformation, particularly commercialisation, and HR (Human Resources) will support this from a people perspective. There is also a lot of work around leadership and organisational culture, and the programme that has looked at leadership culture will now filter down to middle-management level. Cost of living and the job market will also be covered by the strategy to look at how DBC is in the best position to support vacancies and bring in the right workforce. Investment is also required into HR to ensure they have the capabilities to support the transformation journey.
K Soley presented the Communication Strategy, which focuses on the strong communication foundation at DBC and will help with the creation of a more proactive communications service. Digital channels have become critical in local government communications and these therefore feature heavily in the strategy, and whilst it is imperative that the strategy ensures the council keeps pace with digital transformation, it also needs to ensure that no resident is left behind. The strategy also encompasses wider work on events and filming, and there will be a focus on how to develop these areas of work, such as the recent Halloween event in the Old Town.
Cllr Suqlain Mahmood noted that a new Head of ICT was in place and asked how they can make a document when they've had no input into the work.
A Wilkie advised that the new Head of ICT has seen the document and is comfortable with it, and it is expected that the strategy will remain under review so she can bring in further ideas.
Cllr Adeleke asked if there was any member input on the Transformation Board.
H Peacock advised that her team supports the Board and is also responsible for the project management office, which is the key administrative function for the Transformation Board to ensure that they scrutinise programme and project performance. On member input, H Peacock advised that bringing the strategies to this committee was to gain member input, and that some projects may come back through member groups to provide updates and gain further input. Input will depend on the nature of the individual projects within the strategies and it will be sought where appropriate.
Cllr Adeleke asked if the IT department was now fully staffed.
A Wilkie stated that there may be 1 outstanding vacancy, and once the new Head of Service has come in, they can look at whether further resourcing is required. Those conversations are expected in the coming months and any updates will be brought to the committee.
Cllr Adeleke suggested that the majority of our communcations related to Hemel Hempstead. He asked if this could be expanded to include Berkhamsted, Tring and the surrounding villages.
K Soley advised that this is part of the strategy to ensure that every corner of the borough is included in all the work that is being done and that communication covers all channels.
Cllr Symington commended the reports and asked if all strategies were produced internally.
A Wilkie confirmed that some external support was sought for the People Strategy. M Rawdon explained that this was on how to support the team in terms of skillset through staff focus sessions to help generate ideas. It was confirmed that around 80-90% of the strategies were created internally.
Cllr Symington commented on the challenges faced by older residents, and whilst the vast majority will engage online, she asked if the council understands its responsibility to communicate with all residents or it would fall to the voluntary sector to support the older community.
A Wilkie confirmed that the Digital Strategy recognises that different cohorts will behave in different ways and that DBC needs to be organised in the most efficient way to meet this. There is no intention to digitalise every process immediately, and instead the aim is to bring in efficiencies and meet the needs of the community.
H Peacock added that the Digital Strategy also has to marry up with the Customer and People Strategies with an understanding of how residents wish to communicate. Whilst there is a gradual move to digital first, this is not the case for all residents and that is recognised across the strategies. A Wilkie confirmed that the core of the strategies is user-centred design through understanding what residents want and then building the service based on this feedback.
The report was noted.